‘Life-Changing’ Experiences Through Its BRGs and People Programs Make DraftKings a Favorite

Whether they’re navigating their career paths or giving back to local communities, those involved in DraftKings’ business resource groups and inclusion, equity and belonging programs get to drive change in their own lives — and in the lives of others.

Written by Olivia McClure
Published on Jun. 20, 2024
‘Life-Changing’ Experiences Through Its BRGs and People Programs Make DraftKings a Favorite
DraftKings
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Picture an array of more than 100 photos, and all of them of women; some depicting new mothers cradling their infants, others showing grandmothers embracing younger generations.

These meaningful images were part of DraftKings’ Mother’s Day photo contest hosted by its DK Women business resource group. Senior Director of Account Management Krista Thomas, who serves as the BRG’s co-chair, helped gather team members’ photos and highlight their remarkable stories of joy and, occasionally, heartbreak. And while three lucky employees won a spa gift card as a result of the contest, the impact of this initiative was far deeper.

“What was so nice to see from this initiative is that it attracted so many new members — both men and women — and created a connection and sense of empathy,” Thomas said. “It’s important to take a step back and realize that we’re all moving very quickly in this industry, but taking a moment to appreciate others’ stories was incredible. We’re all human.” 

In Thomas’ mind, humanity is the foundation upon which DraftKings operates. So much so, she remarked, that if you were to ask anyone at the company what they love most about working there, you’ll get a universal response: “The people, followed by the culture.” 

To empower the people who make its workplace as beloved as it is, the company aims to ensure its BRGs give a space for all DraftKings employees to learn from one another, build friendships and form strong communities that help the entire team thrive. But aside from that, added Customer Experience Manager David Sorongi, these groups enable teammates from different backgrounds to feel seen and heard. 

“Since each one’s inception, the BRGs have aimed to bring visibility and allyship to underrepresented groups,” he said. 

As this visibility and allyship have increased, DraftKings team members have seen a wider transformation sweeping across the company. 

“Our BRGs have made a huge impact on our company culture, from creating an inclusive environment to increasing productivity and morale,” said Senior Events and Experiences Manager Ashley Zapert

By fostering interpersonal connection, professional growth and equity, DraftKings’ BRGs are more than just a cultural resource; they’re a galvanizing force for good. 

 

BREAKING DOWN THE BRGS

DraftKings offers three BRGs: DK Women, DK Shades and DK Pride. Each of these groups — which are dedicated to empowering women, individuals from diverse backgrounds and members of the LGBTQ+ community, respectively — are supported by two co-chairs, an executive sponsor and employee members. With support from company leaders, Sorongi explained, team members can obtain the resources they need to implement initiatives that will have an outsized impact. 

 

Empowered to be Authentic

Sorongi said his experience with the DK Shades BRG has been “life-changing.” 

Through his involvement with DK Shades, Sorongi had the opportunity to attend the AfroTech Conference, an annual event that showcases and celebrates Black tech professionals. At the conference, he networked with others, learned about industry advancements and gained a deeper understanding of how inclusion is being integrated into product design and systems.
“The learnings from the conference have made me a more impactful leader, and I’m looking forward to attending this year’s AfroTech Conference to continue growing,” he said. 

According to Sorongi, this experience is simply one example of how seriously DraftKings takes its commitment to inclusion, equity and belonging initiatives. The company has pledged to invest $1 million in IEB efforts, and its executive leaders continuously show their support, offering mentorship and guidance to those actively involved in these initiatives. 

Sorongi noted that this emphasis on empowerment influences the company’s surrounding communities, as well. Through the company’s S.E.R.V.E.S program, a group dedicated to serving both team members and local communities, he had the chance to help build 50 beds in support of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit dedicated to building beds for children in need. 

“DraftKings’ IEB efforts and financial support are making a real difference in communities and causes we support, and to me, it sets us apart from other companies,” Sorongi said. 

 

“DraftKings’ IEB efforts and financial support are making a real difference in communities and causes we support, and to me, it sets us apart from other companies.”

 

Zapert, who serves as the co-chair of the company’s DK Pride BRG, shared that as she was building out the BRG’s 2024 programming and gathering feedback from team members, she realized that the group’s impact was more far-reaching than she thought. 

“I learned that it’s not just those who identify within the LGBTQ+ community looking for networking and support; it’s also our allies,” Zapert said. 

Having the chance to empower others has been a game-changer for Zapert. And as she helps others find the freedom to be themselves, she has had the chance to do the same. 

“DraftKings is by far the most inclusive atmosphere and culture I’ve ever been a part of,” she said. “I’ve always felt that I never had to hold back from being my authentic self.”

 

DraftKings team members seated on couches in office, chatting and laughing.
DraftKings

GEAR UP FOR GROWTH

DraftKings’ BRGs have been critical to the company’s professional growth efforts, Sorongi said. The company’s mentorship program, DK Circles, was established by the organization’s BRGs as a way to help its team members with career navigation and networking. Sorongi, who serves on the program’s mentorship team, shared that he has benefited greatly from helping others grow. 


“The beauty of DK Circles’ mentor groups is the diversity and unique makeup of each one,” he said. “Each group is designed to provide the optimal opportunity for team members across different departments to build relationships, share their experiences and have conversations regarding career navigation and development.”

 

‘A Bigger Sense of Belonging’

In Thomas’ mind, fostering true allyship isn’t that simple. 

However, she believes that any BRG can achieve this by understanding the unique challenges a group of individuals faces and enacting change on their behalf. It’s a task that’s easier said than done, but at DraftKings, Thomas has seen this goal manifest. 

This idea of allyship can be felt across the organization. Zapert added that the company’s culture, bolstered by its BRGs, creates a space in which everyone plays a part and is free to share their ideas openly. 

“We promote open communication and transparency, which creates an environment of honesty and a bigger sense of belonging,” she said. 

Sorongi knows that not every company puts its words into action — but DraftKings is different in his eyes. He said that the company has always demonstrated a dedication to equity, and its BRGs are a testament to this commitment. 

“We celebrate the power of community and its impact to create a safe space for employees to thrive,” Sorongi said. 

 

“We celebrate the power of community and its impact to create a safe space for employees to thrive.” 

 

For Thomas, the impact of the company’s culture, coupled with its BRGs, cannot be overstated. She shared that every act of inclusion, whether that’s a volunteering event or an internal mentorship program, enables the organization to thrive. 

“Having a strong IEB foundation in place will not only attract and retain top talent, but will also lead to a mix of diverse views and backgrounds that will help yield smarter decision-making and long-term success,” Thomas said. 

DraftKings’ BRGs have empowered employees to take control of their careers by embracing their unique backgrounds and talents. And in this way, Zapert noted, anyone affiliated with these groups can build a bright future for themselves and others.  

“The BRGs were started because the company believed in providing opportunities for everyone,” she said. “The company is committed to investing in IEB, and I’m excited to be part of our continued growth.”

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by DraftKings.

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