Advocate for a Culture Where Black Professionals are Heard, Celebrated, and Elevated — Jerel Robinson

AllVoices Team
AllVoices Team
November 16, 2021
6 Min Read
Advocate for a Culture Where Black Professionals are Heard, Celebrated, and Elevated — Jerel Robinson

This post is a part of our series, Culture Champions — Spotlighting the actionable advice, tips, tricks and learnings from top ERG leaders who are making a difference in their workplaces and communities.

Jerel Robinson (He/Him) has over 15 years of experience leading and developing high-performing sales teams to consistently exceed revenue and growth targets.

As the Director of North America Sales at Eventbrite, what has best prepared you to be in this role? 

I’ve been privileged to work closely with some extremely talented people across my career and leaders that challenged me. I also found myself  "voluntold" to own some operational and financial projects, which required collaboration with partners outside of my core role. These collective experiences have shaped my career path and helped me build a formula for consistent success. 

You have a lot of experience developing high-performing teams, in your opinion what is the best way to prepare people who were previously individual contributors to management? 

The most important item is for the leader to clearly define the specific behaviors and competencies needed in a successful leader. Next, the leader and the individual contributor can assess their strengths and opportunities before building a development plan.  As part of the development, the leader can delegate specific tasks to help refine their skills. For example, many of our individual contributors help run team meetings, best practice sessions, training for new hires, and we ask for their feedback as we're evaluating important business decisions. I've learned that these activities not only help develop a plethora of skills but foster a culture of consistent feedback and drive strong employee engagement.

What was your journey to becoming an employee resource group (ERG) leader? 

Transparently the journey found me.  Eventbrite created the Briteling Belonging Group(BBG) program in 2019 and that was the origin of Black & Brite.  At the time, there was a grassroots movement in our San Francisco office and I wanted to connect and engage with more black employees. We started as more of a social group meeting up as we traveled to different offices and hosted panels during  Black History Month. We saw the events taking place during the summer of 2020 and decided to be more than a social group, but to drive change within our company and community. As we continued to organize, I found myself regularly on calls with 3 other members to determine important BBG decisions and outcomes, which was the genesis of our core leadership group.

What are the goals of your ERG? (i.e. internal, external, community, professional development, recruitment, inclusive product design, programming) 

Our vision is to be the destination where black professionals want to work. Our mission is to elevate black britelings through intentional individual and community development. We want to advocate for a culture where black professionals are heard, celebrated, and elevated.

What are some of your accomplishments over the past year in the employee experience and how would you measure your impact? 

In light of the murder of George Floyd, there was a swift movement across the country in which companies reflected on their DEI practices. Similar to others, we were galvanized by this movement and spent hours, meeting with our executive staff. Those conversations helped to cultivate our company's DEI commitments, which are shared on our careers page.  Additionally, our CHRO announced Juneteenth as a company holiday, observed globally. 

2021 has been heavily focused on marketing our ERG internally. We produced a robust Black History Month program, which included a trivia night, movie night, chef master class from BBQ pit-master Matt Horn, & a heartfelt keynote from Dr. Angela Davis. Concurrently, marketing curated BHM event collections on the platform and produced custom graphics and Zoom backgrounds. It's always great to join a virtual meeting and see your peers with your ERG logo or an iconic black figure as their background. The back half of this year has been focused on launching and expanding our mentorship & scholarship programs.

How are you celebrated and compensated as an ERG leader at Eventbrite? 

Our ERG is regularly celebrated and supported. Our CEO & executives champion our activities regularly at company meetings, attend our activities, and provide us with a budget to support our needs. Similar to most companies, our ERG leadership positions are volunteer-based and not financially compensated. Alternatively, there are secondary and tertiary benefits through the engagement. I find the experience provides a platform to build relationships with others across the company, along with skills contributing to my personal development. To help alleviate the stress, we try to disperse our responsibilities across the group to make sure one individual isn't overloaded. I'm favorable to this compensation topic gaining more discussion as many leaders are performing these leadership duties in addition to their core responsibilities, which is most likely prioritized after hours.  As you look across most companies, it will be difficult to find any component that doesn't have the fingerprints of the ERG program over it. It's essential to recruiting, company culture, and employee engagement. 

What advice do you have for folks looking to start or lead an ERG within their organization?

Don't feel like you have to wait for someone else to raise their hand to get started. One of our legacy leaders told me that if you're looking around for a leader and no one has raised their hand, it's probably you. Create your vision, mission, and goals as that will be your Polaris and will help you make important decisions. If you can acquire an executive sponsor, I highly recommend it. Our sponsor provides us with guidance when needed and helps champion our efforts across the business. 

What is your call to action for leaders to support the work of ERGs? 

Acknowledge their importance and go all-in with the program. For the program to be successful, it takes full company support. This support includes creating a culture for members to engage within the group. Oftentimes, ERG meetings happen during business hours and conflict with other business meetings. Creating a culture to allow for members to prioritize the ERG participation will go a long way with internal ERG engagement. I had a leader whose team meeting overlapped with our ERG meeting. She allowed me to prioritize our ERG meeting and show up late to her meeting without any angst. 

What is one of your proudest moments and why? 

One, in particular, was the opportunity to watch Dr. Davis' keynote, moderated by one of our BBG leaders. Dr. Davis is an icon and a living legend. She was on the walls of many homes I visited and is a face on my personal Civil Rights Mt. Rushmore.  Observing the conversation was incredible and an experience I will always remember. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

If you are an ERG member or leader, your hard work isn’t going unnoticed and your contributions are extremely valuable. Finally, companies shouldn’t feel an ERG is an initial requirement to champion DEI. One thing I most appreciate about Eventbrite is that we’re focused on driving DEI and engaging with diverse communities independently of our ERG programs.

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