Dayna Wade, Inclusion Programs Lead
Meet Dayna Wade. As the Inclusion Programs Lead, Dayna has the unique challenge of informing, inspiring, and impassioning Blendkind on a daily basis. Luckily for us, that’s what she was born to do. From majoring in journalism, to teaching students of all ages in Brooklyn public schools, Shanghai, and George Washington University, to an unexpected shift to learning and development, Dayna followed a diverse professional path that ultimately guided her to Blend’s Belonging team.
In addition to spearheading many of the Belonging team’s internal events and programming, Dayna also focuses on supporting Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and creating opportunities for Blend employees that are rooted in inclusion, belonging, and accessibility.
ERG: More than just an acronym
Blend’s Belonging team has a mission: to create a diverse workforce and inclusive culture where employees can be their authentic selves. The team works daily to foster an inclusive environment and create conditions in which employees can participate in personal, professional, and social development opportunities that lead to a true sense of belonging in the workplace. Enter ERGs.
Blend ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that unite around a shared identity, experience, and/or interest, and they are a core part of Blend’s employee-led, inclusive culture. They help ensure that underrepresented communities and their allies have a voice and can actively influence company policies and culture while providing support and building community. Dayna works closely with ERG leaders to amplify their efforts and create impactful opportunities for the ERG communities. Part of that is championing ERG leaders, providing access to leadership development opportunities, and ensuring executive sponsorship involvement. Here’s a look at Blend’s current ERGs, with more launching soon.
ERGs provide both informal and formal platforms for their members. From quick mid-day chats for connecting and catching up to more structured events that address important community issues, ERG leaders and members use funds from their annual budget to plan events throughout the year. This year, for Black History Month, the Black@Blend ERG organized weekly events related to the theme of The Power of Disruption that included functions like a Brown Estate Vineyards virtual wine tasting, a Food for the Soul cooking class, and a Black History Month movie discussion. Sometimes ERG events are a collaborative effort, like Pride@Blend’s Lunch & Learn with Janna Barkin, author of He’s Always Been My Son and noted trans activist, Suzanne Ford, which was co-sponsored by Parents@Blend.
Find the right ERG for you
The benefits of joining an employee resource group are myriad: increasing engagement, fostering creativity and connection, developing confidence, and expanding your skillset. Plus, ERGs are fun. At Blend, ERG communication takes place in Slack. All folx have to do is begin typing “ERG” in the Slack search, and all seven (soon to be 10) ERGs will pop up.
Once you find the community (or communities) you identify with, joining the ERG Slack channel automatically makes you a member. Employees are also able to launch ERGs, provided they meet certain requirements. Once the Head of DIB approves the new group, participants will work with the Belonging team to develop a charter, define member expectations, set goals, outline a budget, and identify preliminary success measures. As part of Blend’s leadership initiative, employees have the opportunity to lead an ERG in conjunction with rotating co-leads every six months. Our ERG leaders are compensated for their work at the end of their term, provided that they meet their core responsibilities.
Another integral component to ERG member development is executive sponsorship. Members of the Blend Leadership team who identify as a member or ally of an ERG community are encouraged to become executive sponsors, which is an excellent opportunity for bidirectional mentorship.
Real change starts with validating employee voices
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging have always been key components of Blend’s identity, and since their creation three years ago, ERGs have actively influenced company policies. One of the most recent examples occurred last year, as the world was grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and working parents were trying to navigate virtual workspaces and reduced childcare options.
The Parents@Blend ERG asked Blend’s Head of Finance and then-Head of People Ops, Marc Greenberg, to conduct a listening session with them. Members took advantage of an open platform to express their concerns over things like unexpectedly having to take time off to care for a sick partner or child; or if Blend would be understanding of kids popping in and out of view during virtual meetings.
Like many companies, we hadn’t yet figured out our Covid policies or answers to all the questions that people were asking in the early stages. Following those talks, Blend created comprehensive policies and proactively revisited and extended them as things evolved, which ultimately resulted in a robust policy that supported many people during a scary time.
Become a better ally, become a better you
Diversity is a state of being, inclusion is actionable policy, and belonging is an emotional need that can only be met through sincere commitment and ongoing education. Blend is a perfect fit if you appreciate a culture of inclusion, belonging, and equity — the three core tenets of the DIB strategy.
Members of ERG programs get a jump start on the DIB learning that Blend offers by making connections, opening themselves to their peers’ voices and opinions, learning and growing, and actively working toward becoming better allies. One of the keys to progress is education, and for Dayna, this is just the beginning. She believes that as Blend grows and evolves, so will its diversity and inclusion work. That work and growth will not solely be limited to ERGs — it will become the common thread that runs through every team, uniting the entire company.
Come find your people.