On the 25th of October 2022, from 6 pm - 7.30 pm GMT (+1), HubSpot and Black & Irish hosted a virtual panel discussion and networking event in celebration of Black History Month EMEA, “Amplifying Black ERGs in EMEA.” Black & Irish moderated the session and were joined by European ERG and DI&B leaders Jeanine Francis, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging International Senior Manager Lead EMEA & LATAM @ LinkedIn, Helen Roland, Global Forensic Accountant @ Accenture & Founder of the Ireland Chapter of GTA Black Women in Tech, Conor Buckley, Founder @ Human Collective, Bright Aboagye, Sales Team Lead @ Indeed and Adebola Olomo, Product Marketing Manager @ HubSpot.

Couldn’t tune in? No worries! Watch via the link below or continue reading for our insights.

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What is an Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

Also known as Business Resource Groups, Diversity Networks, Affinity Groups, to name a few, ERGs all have the same purpose: to bring together those with a common identity and background. These employee-led groups routinely meet, socialize, and share collective goals or work projects that help to improve the business and the individuals’ sense of belonging in the workplace. ERGs are also a space for allies to aid in working towards a goal.

Commonalities normally include:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Disabilities
  • Social or economic causes
  • Shared interests

In Jeanine Francis’ words, “(ERGs are) a safe space for employees to show up, be themselves, and share their experiences with a community that understands their very being - they get it! Personally and professionally.”

The Importance of Black ERGs in Europe

While there is a longer history of Black people in America, and so naturally, Black ERGs spouted and were first adopted there, Black communities in EMEA are coming to the forefront and (rightfully) expecting the same from employers. Discussion participants mentioned being confronted with questions in Europe, such as “Why is this space relevant in Europe? We don’t have the same struggles as America?” And that’s precisely the point.

Black experiences are not monolithic and need to be observed and celebrated. 

Adebola proceeded, “Black people are not a monolith, we have similar experiences and lives, but we want to celebrate and share the difference in those stories. In the same way Black Americans have their own experiences, as do we in Europe. So we’re motivated and driven by different things. At HubSpot, we look at local observances, BHM EMEA, and Africa Day to tell our stories in our way.”

That's not to say American stories aren't valid, but it's not a copy-paste solution regionally. Adebola proceeds, "They (HubSpot America colleagues) have built something amazing (HubSpot's ERG BLACKHub), but how can we take that and apply it to our local stories? That's what our community needs. Most Black people in Europe are Caribbean or African. When interacting, we see high engagement in our communities from sharing a photo, or a song and everyone interacts! People of the same spirit and motivation, from the same place, in one community."

Jeanine continued, "In 2020, following the George Floyd murder, there was a focus on colleagues in North America. Black colleagues in Latin America said that, sadly, these stories are prominent locally, and nobody protests. It brought to my attention that organizations need to mature in terms of how they talk about race and allyship. It needs to stop being focused on one geography. Before 2020, it wasn't readily happening, but now we're seeing that it is. We need to weave in the experiences of people all around the world. Unheard voices should be brought to the table. Yes, it's great to have allies, but how are you showing up for the unheard and unseen? Are you emphasizing nuance?"

Last but not least

Bright Aboagye stated, "The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step, and that's what we're here for and doing."

Building a safe space for these communities to flourish underpins a lot of the discussion above. At HubSpot, we've taken steps toward our commitment to build a company where inclusion and equity are embedded into everything we do. How? Through our ever-expanding Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), including BLACKHub, People Of Colour At HubSpot (POCaH), and communities such as Africans at HubSpot, our dedicated DI&B Communities team, mandatory anti-racism training for all employees and transparently publishing DI&B data each year

Interested in joining the team? Let’s grow together - see our open opportunities here.

Originally published Oct 31, 2022 8:26:08 AM, updated January 20 2023