As we close out the month of June, our third month of social distancing and remote working, Braze employees continue to adapt to the COVID-19 era’s new normal. Whether it’s a themed team lunch, a global All-Hands meeting, or an entire job interview process, Braze has managed to seamlessly transition from a hands-on, in-person culture to a new reality that is almost completely virtual.
Since the rise of COVID-19, we have witnessed the demise of in-person events/gatherings and the rise of online social communities. It is more important now than ever to broaden our perceptions of what a community is and to put in the work to maintain inclusion. In efforts to promote awareness around employee inclusion, Braze has laid the foundation for equal opportunity through its diversity and inclusion initiative, Braze For ALL. With six employee resource groups (ERGs) under this initiative thus far, the Pride@Braze ERG adapted to the unconventional planning of a virtual Pride celebration.
Pride 2020 at Braze: Embracing a Virtual Celebration
Fifty-one years ago, the LGBTQ+ community rioted at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in response to police harassment, marking not only the beginning of a revolution but the unification of queer people as a singular community. This year, Pride@Braze worked with Braze For ALL’s Speaker Series and Culture Club committees, as well as with our Employee Experience team, to create a virtual celebration that provided Braze employees with an opportunity to come together in support of the continued struggles and successes of the LGBTQ+ community.
We began our celebration with a virtual fireside chat with accomplished US playwright Kate Moira Ryan that explored her own experiences coming out and finding a community, her involvement with LGBTQ+ activism and its intersections with activism around Black lives and civil rights. She also shared stories about her experiences as a member of New York’s queer community during the AIDS crisis and how her perspective as a queer woman has shaped her work in theater.
We followed that conversation with two virtual events focused on the celebratory side of Pride. First, we were joined by NYC’s very own Lagoona Bloo for an evening of music, camaraderie, and drag queen bingo—complete with Pride-related swag for our lucky bingo winners. Then, we partnered with digital marketing company Persado for an additional virtual drag queen bingo hosted by Pridesado, their LGBTQ+ ERG, and San Francisco-based drag queen, Lady Camden. This event was donation-based and 100% of the proceeds went to The Audre Lorde Project and Black Transmen Inc., two non-profits benefiting LGBTQ+ youth of color.
Pride Isn’t Just a Party: The Importance of Giving Back
Since Stonewall, the LGBTQ+ community has marched together in a singular cause—equality for all. Our community has survived oppression. Our community has brought about sweeping change and will continue to fight for our rights. But this year, more than ever, we all have a duty to stand up and speak out in support of the Black community. Simply put, Pride wouldn’t exist without Black lives.
Given that, it was important to us to make sure that the celebration of this year’s Pride included concrete support for Black and queer individuals. Thanks to funds set aside from our Marketing team’s advertising budget in connection with our boycott of Facebook advertising and donations from our ERGs, partnerships, and clubs, we were able to donate a combined total of $66,300 to three organizations that aligned with our values of community, social-justice, and inclusion: Black Lives Matter, The Trevor Project, and Melanin & Mental Health.
While the pandemic may have put a damper on global Pride celebrations, it also presented all of us with an opportunity to look at Pride Month through a different lens. And while we all look forward to a future where joining together in person to celebrate Pride is again possible, I hope we continue to remember the people who fought against discrimination, bigotry, and hatred to bring about lasting change for the LGBTQ+ community.