Celebrating Black History Month at NextRoll

As our teams across the US and around the world celebrate Black History Month during the month of February, our internal RollDeep group has prepared a variety of events and resources to help all Rollers everywhere learn and grow throughout the month. 

RollDeep is an Employee Resource Group (ERG) for our Black and African-American Rollers and allies. Its goal is to promote inclusivity, awareness, and education amongst the Black community within and outside of NextRoll.

We sat down with RollDeep’s leaders, which includes Rollers at all levels of the company in a variety of locations, to hear how we’re celebrating Black History Month, why it’s important to do so at work, and what we can take away from the celebration to become better allies in the year ahead.  

How has NextRoll celebrated Black History Month in the past?

In the past, RollDeep has primarily used Black History Month to share more of our culture and spirit with the company. We’ve done so by sponsoring playlists that were played throughout the offices and also shared with all Rollers. RollDeep has hosted movie nights, catered lunches by Black-Owned Businesses, and fireside chats on diversity. We’ve educated the company on Black History by highlighting important black figures that have made significant contributions to the world. Lastly, on top of supporting and raising awareness to Black-Owned Businesses, the ERG has established book drives to raise funds to donate books to 1st graders at an Elementary School local to San Francisco.

-Andrew Taylor, Manager II Analytics, NextRoll

How are we celebrating in a unique way this year? 

This year, RollDeep is celebrating by bringing back our Virtual Book Club, partnering with the DEI team to host a company-wide keynote presentation, and creating an internal directory of Black-Owned businesses. With most Rollers working remotely, this programming is a creative way for us to commemorate a historic month virtually while providing people with opportunities to actively participate. 

Our Virtual Book Club was such a success last year and it allowed Rollers from all over the world to connect and have enriching, meaningful discussions each week. This time around, we’re reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, a story that highlights race and privilege, in the hopes that readers are able to examine their own experiences with racism in everyday life. 

For the keynote presentation, we’re excited to have the Inclusion Design Group walk us through data and case studies on inequity in the Black experience and share with us the best practices on eliminating racial bias and discrimination in the employee life cycle from recruitment and hiring to mentoring and promotions. This will give our leaders insight into how NextRoll can continue to be an engaged ally for Black and African American employees.

In a more collaborative effort, we’re also giving Rollers the opportunity to submit their favorite local Black-Owned Businesses and even if some are out of reach for us, we can support in other ways such as an online purchase or sharing the business within our social circles. The directory will live in the RollDeep slack channel where employees can access it at any time. 

-Ebi Adegbe, Workplace Lead, NextRoll

What can people do to commemorate the event in an impactful way?

-Melina Owusu, Manager II, SDR, RollWorks

Why is it important to acknowledge and celebrate Black History Month as a company?

It’s important to celebrate Black History Month at work because it allows us to build upon our culture and values of empathy, kindness, sensitivity, and respect. It’s an invitation to be a part of a community that sees everyone for who they are, where we can engage with one another, learn from one another, and function on a deeper level.

Our goal at NextRoll is to create a diverse Roller population and gain deeper insights, understanding, and empathy for one another. Each individual's contribution is essential to developing a wealth of perspectives that may be applied to specific decisions and improve outcomes. 

One of the essential steps to develop empathy is to care for one another, be curious about one another, and nurture a growth mindset. In addition to learning about prominent figures, Black history carries a narrative around resilience, grit, achievement, and several other universally appreciated characteristics. By highlighting African-Americans' historical contributions to the progress of our society, Black History Month provides a safe environment to expand upon our understanding of one another and examine one's own biases. We begin to understand and feel connected to one another and understand each person's point of view. In doing so, our understanding of this history provides a framework to help approach today's ethnic, socioeconomic, and equitable challenges.

In addition, celebrating Black History Month extends beyond the African-American community. Through our support of Black History Month, we acknowledge that diverse contributions from all backgrounds propel our progress as a society. In addition to learning about, celebrating, and honoring the contribution of Black leaders, we want everybody to feel valued regardless of race, religion, gender, identification, physical or mental challenges, or any other characteristic.

How can people take what they learn during Black History Month and apply it throughout the year?

People can take what they learn during Black History Month and implement that knowledge in their everyday lives by holistically becoming an ally to Blacks or African Americans around them. For the purpose of focusing on being an ally at NextRoll, here’s what being an ally means:

Educate yourself.

Do your homework. It can be tempting to simply ask women, people of color, and women of color about their experiences with inequality and injustice. But that unfairly burdens them with emotional and cognitive labor. An ally takes the time to read, listen, watch, and deepen your understanding first.

Pay vigilant attention to how women, people of color, and women of color experience meetings and other gatherings, and stay alert to inequities and disparities. 

Own your privilege

Being an ally requires recognizing the advantages, opportunities, resources, and power you’ve automatically been accorded as a white man or woman while others have been overtly or subtly denied them.

Accept feedback

You need to establish trusting relationships with people from marginalized groups (especially those disadvantaged in multiple ways) who will give you unvarnished feedback about your workplace conduct.

Sponsor marginalized coworkers

Allies seek out talented protégés from entirely different racial and cultural backgrounds and become their vocal fans. They get to know these colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses, help them develop as leaders, challenge and encourage them, and tout their abilities and achievements whenever new projects, stretch assignments, or promotions are discussed. 

Insist on diverse candidates

A well-established cause of pay gaps, low retention, and stalled career progression for women, people of color, and especially women of color is bias and discrimination in hiring, professional development, and promotions. Allies can help colleagues from marginalized groups overcome this hurdle.

Build a community of allies

Allies can broaden their impact by joining or forming groups of colleagues interested in fighting racism and gender inequality. Look for like-minded people in all parts of your organization, including other units, satellite and remote locations, and employee resource groups, and then grow your base.

What does RollDeep hope people will take away from this year’s events?

RollDeep wants these events to show the importance of how representation matters and that our stories will equate to positive impacts within NextRoll and the larger community as a whole. Having real and honest conversations about Black history and the Black experience can bring meaningful change that we hope will translate into equality. We invite any NextRoll employee to join RollDeep.

Learn more about our RollDeep ERG, our other NextRoll ERGs, and our Culture on the NextRoll website.