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.
Sheldon Spring is a graduate from the University of Washington with a Business degree in Marketing and Information Systems. He possesses an interest in consumer-driven marketing, applications of data, and business strategy and is constantly looking to learn and expand his skillset alongside driven and passionate individuals.
As an Associate Implementation Consultant, many of my daily responsibilities revolve around project and relationship management. The former is definitely also employed when organizing planning meetings for events that our organization coordinates. The latter is especially helpful when reaching out to and interacting with our company’s various internal or external contacts for said events.
I would say that my journey to becoming one of the Global Co-leads for Box API was a bit unorthodox in the sense that I was notified of the opening shortly after getting involved with my local branch of the organization in Box’s Austin office. A couple of months after becoming a member, a coworker who was the lead for another Box ERG disclosed that the Global Lead at the time was going to be leaving the company and was looking for a replacement.
After doing a bit of research into what the role entailed, a colleague who was also fairly new to the organization and I decided that splitting up the position’s responsibilities into two would make stepping in more manageable. Shortly thereafter, we expressed our interest in filling the open role and were quickly inaugurated into the Box API Leadership team structure and weekly meeting cadence.
The majority of my time serving as a Global Co-lead for Box API has been during the virtual work period associated with the pandemic. While in many ways this model of working poses challenges when it comes to community-building and more tangible methods of measuring impact, I am proud to note the various ways that our team has been able to implement/execute new programming.
Much of the success of our programming has come from a definitive effort to source more input from our members as to the types of events and topics that they would like to see discussed. An example of this is when Box API was able to host the founders/content creators behind the popular podcast: Asian Boss Girl (ABG). In partnering with other ERGs, we were able to lead a discussion centered around professional development, pursuing passions, and personal advocacy--all areas of interest expressed by our members in a survey that had gone out prior to the event.
Measuring the impact of our events is still something that as an organization we are trying to further formalize, but it typically involves a survey that is sent out after the event takes place and general comments that we receive from attendees. Popular areas of focus for impact that our leadership team tries to benchmark on include aspects like intersectionality of event content + potential speakers, engagement during the event from organization members, the relevance of discussion topics etc. If we receive positive feedback across these categories, then we usually deem the event as impactful.
Candid Conversations or “Candid Convos”, is an event that was first formed during the BLM movement that took precedence in the summer of 2020. Social media platforms during this time period were heavily populated with numerous infographics containing content that spanned a wide spectrum of information pertaining to systemic inequality, societal injustices, and race relations in the US.
Our first set of meetings for Candid Convos sought to explore and discuss the ways in which the Asian American and Pacific Islander American communities are oftentimes portrayed in the media, and how these representations have resulted in longstanding stereotypes associated with our communities. After taking a closer look at the systems that perpetuate these images within popular culture, we also held a session dedicated to exploring how these very same stereotypes and overgeneralizations can be leveraged to drive division amongst APIA and other communities of color.
Since its inception, Candid Convos has remained as a monthly event where members can join a call to talk about social issues or popular events that are related to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
When I assumed the role of one of Box API’s Global Co-leads, we were the only employee resource group without an active executive sponsor. As a result, my fellow co-lead and I worked with the D&I team to source potential candidates from our C-Suite, and conducted interviews based on this initial selection.
The interviews themselves were fairly informal, as the primary questions that we had for each candidate were essentially why they were interested in being Box API’s executive sponsor, how much time they would be able/willing to contribute to the role, and their personal connection to the API community.
Throughout the entire process our D&I team worked closely with us to level-set and brainstorm our expectations for this advisory role, and by the end of the process we ended up opting for a co-executive sponsor model with two individuals instead of one.
All ERG leaders are part of a broader team that meets on a bi-weekly basis to discuss organizational initiatives and upcoming events that respective ERGs are conducting. At the opening of each of these meetings, there is time to express accolades or congratulations to members of the team that have performed especially impactful programming that month.
Additionally, Box as a company has recently formalized a Community segment to our corporate career framework, and involvement in ERG organizations will serve as a definitive example of participation within this new space. With this change, membership/leadership in ERGs will not only fulfill a personal interest but dually a professional one as well.
While conversations around being compensated for the time and effort that being a lead of an employee resource group entails, this is something that does not currently exist at Box. Discussion continues to take place though, and with other notable tech companies providing a precedent for this kind of system, efforts to promote this as a consideration topic to our corporate leaders remains consistent.
Reaching out and working with various ERG leaders to help with promoting their events can be deeply beneficial given the heightened influence and reach that your voice provides as an executive. Engaging in this kind of action even if you are not serving as the direct executive sponsor for a given employee resource group or as a result of a recent social event also communicates a level of care and interest that can embody the D&I messaging that a majority of companies outwardly market in the current corporate environment.