Identity — whether preordained or the accumulation of lived experiences — influences one’s selfhood, character traits and perspective.
When given the space, these individual threads can be woven into a vivid tapestry: a continual work in progress, yet something to behold each step of the way.
At BlackLine, employee resource groups play a vital role in fostering authenticity, connection and understanding. When BlackLine Resources for Empowering Women, or BREW, kicked off in 2018 with the help of company founder, Therese Tucker, the fuse was lit, and a series of employee-led ERGs followed.
“Our ERGs support and shape our inclusive culture where differences are valued, treated with dignity and respect, and all are empowered to contribute to a positive and fun workplace,” explained Manager of Optimization Consultation Sharhonda Rush.
“Our ERGs support and shape our inclusive culture where differences are valued, treated with dignity and respect, and all are empowered to contribute.”
BlackLine’s ERGs attract a range of identities, from religion to race to LGBTQ professionals and women and beyond.
While discussing the company’s veteran’s ERG, Principal Customer Success Manager Carl Anderson noted how service members — alongside their friends and family — make extraordinary sacrifices and possess a rare resilience.
These qualities are not only a foundation to build community but “a very powerful asset when a company needs fortitude, grit and adaptability to solve the complex challenges that arise as part of a rapidly evolving industry climate; veterans are trained to take every changing circumstance and find a way to forge new paths,” he said.
While identities and backgrounds vary from person to person, the broader commitment to embracing and celebrating differences drives BlackLine to achieve together.
“Our company culture is rooted in the idea that all people bring something unique to BlackLine,” said Director of Global Sales Enablement Jennifer Ryan. “The magic that makes up each of us, working together towards our company’s success, makes BlackLine a great place to work.”
These professionals shared how BlackLine’s ERGs have proven instrumental in boosting employee engagement, community and achievement.
Describe BlackLines’s ERGs. How did they get started, and who is involved? Were there any challenges?
Rush: We have several ERGs at BlackLine, all of which promote a sense of belonging and inclusion: BlackLine Complexions, PEACE — Putting Energy Around Christ-Centered Endeavors, OPEN — Out Professional Engagement Network, BREW — BlackLine Resources for Empowering Women, and BlackLine Veterans.
Our first ERG, BREW, was established in 2018. BlackLine’s founder, Therese Tucker, was personally involved in sponsoring and supporting the launch of our first ERG. BREW’s mission is to provide a support system and sense of community among women colleagues and promote organic professional development and mentorship opportunities. In addition, BREW fosters and enables engagement with our local community, striving to advance all women and girls in their educational and professional pursuits.
Ryan: The ERGs at BlackLine help us to build deeper connections and live our values. They also send a powerful message that diversity, inclusion and belonging are valued at BlackLine.
Last year, our OPEN ERG, which welcomes our LGBTQIA+ and allies, asked BlackLiners to join us to film a video to honor National Coming Out Day. For some, it was their first time in the office and a great way to bring people together and celebrate our culture. We continue offering impactful initiatives to unite BlackLiners and strengthen our communities.
How do ERGs foster a sense of belonging?
Anderson: BlackLine’s ERG teams have a clear focus on inclusion and collaboration, and our Veteran’s ERG especially represents this. While many members have served in the military previously, we have an equal number of members with connections that bind them through family or experience.
These members are parents, children, spouses and family members who have witnessed and, in many cases, experienced the sacrifices of those who have served. It doesn’t matter what your relationship is to a veteran; the common theme is that all are welcome. Because military veterans come from every community and walk of life throughout our country’s history, it is easy to see their impact across our company.
Rush: Our ERGs provide leadership, growth and educational opportunities within BlackLine and support our local communities outside the office as well. To serve is the foundation of our culture, and BlackLine provides time for employees to do acts of service by supporting a nonprofit or local community programs.
“To serve is a pillar of our culture, and BlackLine provides time for employees to serve their community through charitable events hosted by our ERGs.”
Many BlackLiners work remotely, and our ERGs provide valuable resources and encourage a sense of community that enables all to thrive in a virtual and hybrid environment. Our ERGs also are a catalyst for creativity and conversation, bringing together employees with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. This empowers BlackLiners to collaborate and innovate, discuss important topics openly and contribute to positive change.
How does DEI or the work of ERGs fit into your larger company mission?
Ryan: People collaborate in ERG meetings and events to brainstorm, share and bring varied experiences and perspectives to make our company, our product and the success of our customers our main priority.
Anderson: Our employee-driven ERGs serve as networks to support our growing diverse population while advancing BlackLine’s DEI and company strategy. Our ERG strategy is focused on advancing a culture of inclusion, belonging and innovation.so that we can deliver the most innovative products to our customers.
What does the process of suggesting, forming and integrating new ERGs look like? What role do employees play in deciding what those new ERGs should be?
Ryan: Suggesting, developing and starting a new ERG at BlackLine is quite simple. On our Intranet, which we call Bullhorn after our beloved mascot, Bucky the Bull, any employee can submit a form to start a group, and then anyone can join. Our ERG programs are encouraged, supported and thriving.