In 2021, Braze committed to incorporating inclusivity and equity into the fabric of its culture. Cultural shifts such as this require multifaceted strategies and cross-department collaboration, but most importantly, they need a genuine commitment to connecting with underrepresented communities in tech. Our commitment to inclusivity includes the Tech For Black Founders program, partnering with the inclusive consultant agency ‘Do What Matters’ to pilot inclusive management training and recruitment pipelines, and sponsoring affinity conferences.
Affinity conferences are crucial to inclusivity because they allow companies like Braze to connect and build trust with diverse communities. Among other actions, Braze has prioritized the sponsorship of two important affinity conferences this year, starting with the Sistas in Sales 5th annual summit. What is Sistas in Sales? The founder, Chantel George, describes it as “a global organization that serves over 5,000 women of color (WoC) in sales. Sistas In Sales (SIS) creates unique events for WoC in professional sales that build hard and soft skills, networking events to find Sales WoC Executives for mentorship, and a safe space to navigate your career.” Accordingly, this summit was the perfect opportunity for Braze to connect with the community of Black and Brown saleswomen across the country.
From September 21-23, in partnership with two Braze employee resource groups (ERGs)—Black@Braze and Somos, which represents global Latin, Hispanic, and related communities—Braze sent five representatives to connect with talented sales leaders, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners. Braze representatives spent time in workshops, co-hosted panel discussions, offered resume reviews, and engaged in authentic dialogue with other attendees. Workshops ranged in topics from networking within your workplace, establishing a personal brand, and negotiation tactics. Though the summit only lasted three days, there was no shortage of empowerment and support; walking through the event space, attendees frequently overheard phrases like, “You describe your personal brand so eloquently. Can you coach me on how to do the same?” and “I appreciate how supportive you were during the panel discussions!” or “Thank you for hearing me, sis!” It was a safe space infused with love and support.
In addition to all that attendees did to uplift one another, they also heard from inspiring keynote speakers Bevy Smith and Taraji P. Henson, who shared important messages about showing up authentically, knowing your worth, and caring for your mental health—timely advice for women in the workplace. Spending three days surrounded by women who were committed to supporting and encouraging one another reminded me of the late bell hooks, and a topic she often discussed at length: The healing power of communing with Black women. Sistas in Sale is marketed as a conference for Black and Brown women in sales to network and connect with potential employers, but in reality, it’s much more than that. It is an opportunity to show up authentically, a safe space to let our guard down, and a stage to speak our truths and be heard.
Affinity conferences are arguably the most important step in our journey to becoming a more inclusive organization. Sponsoring and attending affinity conferences like Sistas in Sales allows Braze to witness and participate in moments of empowerment and connection that encourage change. That type of change has the power to transform a company from a workplace into a community, and a community that revolutionizes how we show up to work.