Candidates evaluating the next step in their careers are likely looking for caring employers and a welcoming, supportive community at work, according to a 2022 McKinsey report.
At AlphaSights, where the company’s purpose is based on the power of connecting with the right people worldwide, employees have brought that external mission to internal initiatives, cultivating meaningful communities at work — with full support from leadership. These employee-led initiatives serve as a breeding ground for inclusivity, support and trust, which now permeates the organization, inside and out.
AlphaSights in a Nutshell
There are company-wide employee resource groups built around identities, such as Latinos @ AlphaSights and Parents @ AlphaSights, and social groups such as Alphas in the Outfield, a New York City-based company softball team. The impact of these groups is expansive, whether it is offering a safe space to cope with trauma or getting a rush of endorphins after hitting a game-winning home run.
Building a sense of belonging isn’t just a feel-good talking point for AlphaSights. The company has seen tangible impacts of these efforts to prioritize community and build equity. Take, for instance, the company’s zero percent gender pay gap. Or, the fact that 90 percent of employees say the people are what they value most.
Darya Chernina, the global director of language services, has seen these outcomes firsthand as the founder and executive sponsor of Parents @ AlphaSights. After its founding, one of the ERG’s first activities was to conduct a benefits survey for parents. The results demonstrated that parents desired more flexibility with their schedules.
“The board of our group and the COO got together to start discussing,” she said. “We put together basic guidelines for managers that have parents on their teams for how to communicate their expectations and understand the pressures that primary caregivers and parents are under. It’s a small one-pager, but it’s a powerful outcome.”
Built In talked to Chernina and two other AlphaSights team members about the support that the company provides its employee initiatives, and how these groups make AlphaSights an inclusive employer for everyone.
Despite Darya Chernina’s impressive qualifications at her job, she was apprehensive about the journey into the unfamiliar territory of parenthood when she became a “late-in-life parent” with her first pregnancy and childbirth happening right before the pandemic.
Thankfully, Chernina had a group of coworkers in the New York office who were making that journey at the same time. The group leaned on each other heavily in individual conversations to navigate the new territory of parenthood during such uncertain times.
In early 2021, about six months after returning from parental leave, Chernina brought the group together in a Slack channel to consolidate those conversations into one central group with a rallying cry she knew would resonate with the team: “If you’re spending the day swaddling, picking food up off the floor or listening to Let It Go 50 times a day, then you’re in the right place.”
That channel organically evolved into the formal Parents @ AlphaSights ERG and grew to include parents in offices around the world.
Here’s what else Chernina had to say:
On building the group: A few weeks after starting the Slack channel I was talking to the COO and he said, “Maybe this should be an employee resource group,” because we are growing our parent population and we’re hiring more experienced professionals. I talked to another ERG leader to get a rough idea of how they used their budget, and got a bunch of trackers and ideas. We’re doing stuff to get us to a point where everybody can say that this is a great place to work for parents, they feel comfortable here and the company supports them.
On inclusivity: I have realized that inclusion is exceptionally important. At a past job, I’d organize baby showers but I wasn’t a mom. It felt like process-oriented fun to me, I didn’t think about the fact that I was creating an inclusive environment for parents. I didn’t realize that prior to becoming a parent myself. It’s really meaningful, and DEI is a lot more important to me now. You can make a change and contribute positively to make people feel supported and included.
On why she does the work: Having an opportunity to create this community was a personal mission. You should bring your full self to work. Once you become a parent, it becomes a huge part of your identity. There’s no way to erase that. You’ll be dealing with a tantrum in the morning then hop on the train and have a team meeting in the office. You can’t separate those, and having that understanding and kinship with other parents keeps me going. I want to broaden that community.
Employee Resource Groups at AlphaSights
- Parents @ AlphaSights
- Latinos @ AlphaSights
- Women’s Initiative Network (WIN @ AlphaSights)
- Black Professionals @ AlphaSights
- Asian Knowledge Inclusion Network (AKIN @ AlphaSights)
- Pride @ AlphaSights
- Mental Inclusion & Neurodiversity (MINDS @ AlphaSights)
- Philanthropy @ AlphaSights
- Sustainability @ AlphaSights
- Active @ AlphaSights
According to Marissa Reyes, a lot happens in the Latinos @ AlphaSights Slack channel. On any given day, the signature knock-brush notification sound could coincide with messages spanning the spectrum of emotions, from lighthearted verdicts on the new Drake album (“It sucks”) to processing profound tragedy.
Coming from a predominantly Mexican community in Washington, then attending a predominantly white college in New York, Reyes started at AlphaSights after graduation, hungry to build up a Latino community. That’s why she banded together with a coworker to start Latinos @ AlphaSights.
This is what Reyes had to say:
On community building: Latinos @ AlphaSights is a great way to foster connection with people. Even before they officially start, it helps them understand that there is a community for them. Even if it’s just to ask someone where to go for lunch or get their hair done, it’s been a nice way to meet new talent at the firm and foster relationships.
On support from leadership: It was easy to put together. Our chairperson was a mentee of the COO, and we had a lot of support. The executives helped find us a vice president to sponsor the group. She had us put together a proposal and budget. We started a Slack channel and had our first meeting. Our very first event went way over budget, but they gave us a lot of grace. Now we have positions and requirements for an ERG board.
On the impact: We’ve been able to discuss events that have impacted Latino communities. Like when the singer Vicente Fernandez, an icon across Latin American countries, died, my mom called me. My grandma was crying, she had a whole altar for him. I would never have talked about that at work if Latinos @ AlphasSights had not been around. Or, on a more serious note, the Uvalde shooting was in a predominantly Latino community. We were able to talk about the issues that face Latino communities in ways that we probably wouldn’t have been able to otherwise if this ERG had not been formed.
When Michael Saccomanno joined AlphaSights, he was eager to join the Alphas in the Outfield softball team, but spots were limited. He’s always been a big fan of sports, but softball, in particular, sparked memories of his childhood, when his dad and grandfather would take him to games. “At 28 years old, it still makes me feel like a kid,” he said.
Saccomanno leaped at the opportunity to join the team when a spot opened up in 2019. That year, the team won the division championship. “Not saying it was because of me,” he joked. “We had a lot of fun. There were really good vibes.”
The Covid-19 pandemic brought that fun to a temporary halt, but the team hasn’t stopped bonding. As they awaited the return of the league, the group has stayed connected on Slack, filling the void with Major League Baseball banter. If all things go well, they’ll be back on the diamond later this year.
“Sports can bring so many people together and allow them to take a break for a few hours. It’s a universal language, like food or music.”
This is what else Saccomanno had to say:
On building community: The softball team started before I joined, and there has always been backing from a vice president or stakeholders. It’s a team-building and fun initiative. It’s a great icebreaker to meet colleagues that aren’t in your department who you don’t socialize with daily. There are also basketball, volleyball and a few other sports teams.
On the impact: Softball might not have the major cultural impact that ERGs have, but it’s a way to make sure people feel included and comfortable regardless of their identity. It’s also nice to step back and have a moment to just forget about everything and have fun talking to your coworkers. It’s light, and everyone is having a great time. We have good bonds. Sports can bring so many people together and allow them to take a break for a few hours. It’s a universal language, like food or music. So many people can relate to it and appreciate it, and it brings different types of people together and discover common interests. There is a human element to it.
On support from leadership: AlphaSights is listening to its people about what it needs to make this an attractive company to join. It puts its people’s voices first. Leadership instills confidence within us to find a bigger purpose, whether it’s a cultural group or something fun. It’s about building something from idea to execution. There is trust from the C-suite, they give you the lane and let you drive it forward.