At Blend, we believe we’re only as extraordinary as our people. Which is why we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace. We want all members of Blendkind to feel comfortable being their authentic selves, to have ample opportunity to cultivate leadership skills, and to be empowered to influence the policies and procedures that make an equitable workplace possible.
One of the most impactful ways we can fulfill that commitment is through employee resource groups (ERGs). Women@blend is one of ten ERGs that we proudly support. It provides a space for people who identify as women, gender minorities, and allies to forge meaningful connections, promote career advancement, and make an impact at Blend and beyond.
Recently, we were able to sit down with Megan Schmelzle, Women@Blend’s 2022 ERG lead, and learn more about her life, her career, and her perspective on the importance of ERGs.
Meet Megan Schmelzle
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career path?
I’m a Florida girl at heart, but I moved to North Carolina to attend UNC and then headed up to New York for my first job. I started my career in management consulting, primarily working in the higher education space on various advisory and technology transformation projects.
From there, I pivoted to working in the startup world because I was really craving the chance to make an impact on a business in its earliest stages.
Outside of work, I spend most of my time dreaming up my next adventure, finding the nearest beach, going to see live music, entertaining my cat, Tiny Toni, and generally enjoying all that New York City has to offer.
What’s your role at Blend? And what do you enjoy most about working here?
I joined Blend as an Account Partner in the beginning of 2021, and was recently promoted to Strategic Account Partner. I was excited by its mission to make financial services more accessible and the voracity with which the company was bringing consumer lending into the present day through technology.
I remember being floored by the fact that Blend was able to develop and launch a creative solution for PPP loans during the Covid pandemic — within a matter of three days. I love that every single day is a different challenge where I’m learning something new about our products, the industry, or technology in general. I’m motivated every day by the opportunity to problem solve and collaborate with my customers and my Blend colleagues.
What does being involved with an ERG mean to you?
ERGs are such an important grassroots support system for any organization-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy. They give you the incredible opportunity to reach out across an organization and connect with your colleagues in a personal and meaningful way. ERGs can be a place to find comfort, to learn about the challenges your peers face, and to grow as an individual, teammate, and ally.
You’d been a member of Women@Blend — what made you decide to lead?
I firmly believe in the value of ERGs to create brave spaces and advancement opportunities for all folks. Leading an ERG gives me access to leadership support that can help make my goals a reality. Being able to define and drive the vision for Women@Blend has been so gratifying.
I’ve always loved to connect people from different backgrounds and social groups. I’ve filled the role of some variation of “social chair/volunteer coordinator” starting in college and in every job after graduating. Being an ERG lead at Blend felt like a natural combination of those two passions for me.
What have you learned during your ERG lead tenure so far?
Creating a sense of community virtually, via Zoom and Slack, is hard work. You could easily spend 40+ hours a week doing just that and still have more you’d want to accomplish. As a remote-first company not quite in the post-Covid era, we don’t have the luxury of bonding through in-person events. So I’ve really started to recognize those challenges and try to plan better.
Coordinating efforts between our fabulous group of committee members, our Belonging team, our executive sponsor, other ERG leads, and any vendors has been a great lesson in leadership. It has been a humbling and inspiring experience.
What are some of your favorite and/or most impactful events you’ve organized?
A recent Women in Negotiation Lunch & Learn was a big hit for the group because the themes and tips the speaker presented transcended our normal ERG group meeting. My overall goal this year is to focus on intersectional programming. Our ERG, in particular, includes identities that are represented in each of our nine other ERGs. Because of that, we have a unique responsibility to make sure that we treat Women@Blend as the multifaceted group that it is and promote events that speak to members of Blendkind outside of the women’s ERG.
What is your vision for the future of Women@Blend and the organizational impact made by the ERG?
At this point, I feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface for what the Women@Blend ERG could be. We’re lucky to have the exemplary support of our Executive Sponsor, President of Title 365 Kristen Estrella, and I am looking forward to what we can accomplish working together.
I’d love to see our group influence the creation of more formal mentorship programs for women at Blend, at both the individual contributor and management levels.