Letting ERGs Lead at OpenSesame, Thanks to An Inspiring Diversity Grant

How $10,000 awarded from Prosper Portland will support ERG-driven training and events for our company in the coming year.

We won! For the second year in a row, OpenSesame has been honored as a recipient of one of Prosper Portland’s Inspiring Diversity Grants. 

There are many instances in life where people—especially members of historically marginalized communities—do not feel seen or heard. Since 2018, Prosper Portland, through the State of Oregon, has been awarding Inspiring Diversity Grants to organizations working to change that narrative. According to Prosper Portland, the purpose of these grants “is to inspire creative, equity-related best practices around the workforce and build new community partnerships with underrepresented populations.” They’ve given OpenSesame $10,000 to support this essential work, which will be dedicated to expanding the capacity of our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). 

Supporting ERG leaders with new initiatives

I joined OpenSesame’s People Team six months after they launched the ERGs in 2021. Currently, we have six: 

  • Asian Pacific Islanders of OpenSesame
  • Black Folx of OpenSesame
  • Juntos of OpenSesame
  • Neurodiversity at OpenSesame
  • Queers of OpenSesame
  • Women of OpenSesame

I’ve dedicated myself to supporting and empowering the leaders of these groups, and it has been the most rewarding work. The world was not built with their communities in mind, so overcoming obstacles and meeting the diverse needs of the ERGs on a daily basis is always a victory. But being acknowledged by Prosper Portland for the committed work towards positive changes in inclusion is as exciting as winning the lottery—as we continue to construct bridges towards a more psychologically safe and equitable workplace, the entire company will benefit.

When OpenSesame received our initial $10,000 Inspiring Diversity Grant in 2022, we used it to host our first-ever ERG leadership summit. The event included training workshops to empower ERG leaders with new skills and resources to support their communities. We also successfully launched ERG Week, a five-day event where the ERGs promote inclusive spaces by organizing activities for the entire company. The week builds on our previous Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) efforts by giving members of ERG communities dedicated space to share their unique and often-underrepresented insights and experiences with the rest of their colleagues.

DEI training driven by ERGs

For this year, we are using our Inspiring Diversity Grant to double down on training. While Learning & Development departments often develop DEI training, we believe it is essential to give the microphone to the communities most affected by DEI. During ERG Week 2024, our ERGs will invite speakers and organize events to reflect the perspectives of their respective communities. Each ERG will present a 45-minute workshop open to the entire company, addressing a topic they find important. And we’re encouraging collaboration among the ERGs as we strive to address the intersectionality of these communities and create even more inclusive and safe spaces.

It’s been an incredible experience witnessing OpenSesame’s journey toward fostering inclusion and diversity throughout the entire company culture. These Inspiring Diversity Grants go a long way in helping us empower our ERGs and amplify the voices of underrepresented communities. As we look ahead, my colleagues and I are committed to continuing this important work, building bridges, and creating even more inclusive and safe spaces within our company. Together, we’ll create a workplace where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued. With each step we take, we move closer to a future where diversity is celebrated, equity is upheld, and positive change is embraced. I can’t wait to see where we end up.

Learn more about the role of ERGs in fostering culture and belonging in organizations in the recorded webinar ERGs for Culture and Belonging: Unpacking Employee Resource Groups.