Fostering Inclusion Through the Black Employee Network

By: Robert Byrd, Finance Manager

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are known as the lifeblood of an organization. They provide an opportunity to foster collaboration, build and strengthen relationships, uncover mentorship opportunities, and increase employee engagement. Most importantly, though, ERGs are communities within the workplace where employees can feel most comfortable being their authentic selves, and the ERGs accessible to Comcast Advertising (Effectv and FreeWheel) employees are no different.

2020 was certainly a year of change for us all. With so much civil unrest, we asked ourselves what we could do to be part of the solution. Within our companies, we recognized an increased need for more community, and so, we set out to establish a New York Chapter of Comcast’s nationwide Black Employee Network (BEN). BEN NY was officially founded in November 2020, open to the many Effectv and FreeWheel employees located in the New York area.

There’s a very specific recipe to successfully launch an ERG: passionate employees + dedicated executive champions + a workforce culture of inclusivity and understanding. This BEN chapter was established and is being led by employees with the support of Comcast Advertising HR and the Comcast Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) teams, the guidance of the BEN HQ chapter, and four passionate executive sponsors.

The pre-launch work involved months of significant planning and decision-making. Once we made the decision to become an official chapter – linked to BEN HQ – we were able to leverage their overarching goals. BEN NY’s mission would be to foster an environment of inclusion within Comcast Advertising, empower all employees, and create opportunities to build closer relationships between FreeWheel and Effectv employees. We made the decision to launch as a local chapter with the intention to be a blueprint for others. Having this inclusive, local chapter enables us to focus on our goals at a more personalized level, so each and every member can have a voice in our newfound community.

We also had challenges to overcome: how to get membership, how to sustain the chapter, and what we could do to make BEN NY worth each member’s time. For each challenge, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from leaders and colleagues across all of Comcast including those who served as ERG leads or founding members, to help guide us. Those ERG leaders, including the leaders of BEN HQ, were eager to share tips and advice like:

  • Raise awareness and drive membership through email campaigns.
  • Recruit volunteers to avoid burnout.
  • Sustain the chapter with small offerings in between larger events.
  • Foster collaboration by partnering with BEN HQ or other ERGs.
  • Make it worthwhile for participants by emphasizing connection and community, and by welcoming everyone who wants to join across all of Comcast Advertising.

The process leading up to the BEN NY launch was transformative. So much so that we felt the best way to launch was to highlight not only BEN NY, but also all the other amazing employee resource groups that Comcast Advertising employees can get involved with. The ERG Spotlight event, called “Invest in You: Grow with Our Employee Resource Groups,” brought together representatives from BEN, FreeWheel Women Worldwide, Tech Women, and OUT@Comcast (dedicated to LGBTQ+ and ally inclusivity) to discuss the benefits of participating in ERGs. It was an opportunity for all ERGs to increase membership, build momentum, and grow our communities. It was invigorating.

Now, only a few months past the launch of BEN NY, we’re already 50 members strong. In 2021 and beyond, we hope to create and curate content and events that will help to provide a safe space to speak on specific issues while helping to further the DE&I goals of Comcast Advertising and provide our members with opportunities aligned with our mission. Some upcoming highlights include Black History Month celebrations, virtual networking events, a focus on mental health, professional development, and more.

There’s an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together.” The process of launching and maintaining the Black Employee Network and other ERGs has demonstrated exactly that. To experience a workplace culture of inclusivity, innovation, and endless collaboration, we have to create it – and we have to create it together.