Celebrating Black History Month at FullStory
Culture · 6 min read

Celebrating Black History Month at FullStory

The FullStory Team
Posted March 04, 2022

About the authors: Tim Simms, Niki Madison, Courtney Orgias, and Dani Constable co-authored this blog as part of our FullStorian ERG, BlackStorians.

We’re all familiar with the typical ways in which we annually celebrate Black History Month in the US—learning about the lives, contributions, and achievements of Black Americans like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglas, and many more. And, for many, that’s the extent of the celebration.

But here at FullStory, we don’t just want to celebrate; we want to celebrate well. That’s why celebrating Black History Month as a company looked like a far different experience this year—with more nuanced, thought-provoking, and, in some ways, challenging conversations.

Led by BlackStorians, our Employee Resource Group for Black FullStorians, we spent the final week of February hosting various conversations that explored the nuance and complexity of Blackness, Black History, and Black Health and Wellness. The sessions included:

  • The relationship between healthcare and the Black community

  • Intersectionality and Blackness

  • Being Black @ FullStory Panel Discussion

To keep the conversation going, we sat down with our BlackStorian colleagues who led these conversations to learn more about their experiences facilitating and participating in these Black History Month events.

Q: Why or how were these events impactful to you?

Tim Simms: I facilitated the Black @ FullStory session. At the idea's inception, we thought it was important to share stories of how BlackStorians got to this point in time, and how race impacted their past and their present.

Niki Madison: I was a panelist during the Black @ FullStory session because I feel that one of the most impactful ways for people to move beyond societal divisions is through empathetic conversations. Holding space for open and active listening to the lived experiences of people from various backgrounds is pivotal to building a diverse culture at FullStory.

Dani Constable: I facilitated a session on Intersectionality and Blackness centered around a podcast about Andre Leon Talley. It was a collaboration between QueerStorians and BlackStorians. It was important to have to have this discussion because being Black and queer—or Black and anything—is a meaningful space to take up that comes with specific hardships and experiences.

Courtney Orgias: I facilitated and participated in several Black History Month events centered around Black Health and Wellness (the BHM theme this year), as well as Intersectionality and Blackness, and the Black @ FullStory panel. Sessions like these are imperative because they connect us as a company, humanize underrepresented groups, and give us all a space to share, learn, and grow.

Q: Why do you feel it’s important to celebrate Black History Month at work?

Niki Madison: Celebrating Black History Month shows a concerted support for Black employees. In the last few years, corporate communications around Blackness have generally come in the face of traumatic events. For me, to have planned conversations and events around Black joy, growth, and resilience goes beyond a reactionary response to something triggering to a genuine effort to show appreciation for those who have historically been held back in work environments.

Courtney Orgias: It’s not just important to celebrate Black History Month at work; it’s important to celebrate Black History Month at work the right way. Celebrating Black History Month the right way allows space for Black employees to be seen, heard, and embraced in ways that aren’t always made available the remainder of the year.

Dani Constable: Black people generally carry way more stress and anxiety about belonging at work. Celebrating Black History Month is an easy way to make people feel like their experiences and differences are valued. While I firmly believe Black people should be celebrated year round, this month is our month, and we deserve to be highlighted.

Q: How has FullStory been a place of support and what work do FullStorians as a whole have to do moving forward?

Tim Simms: The thing I appreciate about FullStory is the juxtaposition of knowing we don't have everything right, we don't have all the answers or strategies for making things better, and we have a lot of room to grow; while at the same time being 100% committed to a better future, and taking steps in that direction.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done, but the core values we'll need to navigate to that future are in place throughout the organization.

Courtney Orgias: Going forward, we need to amplify diversity on all fronts—race, gender, level of ability, etc. and make sure that the appropriate structures are in place to support NewStorians that join the company. We have a long way to go toward diversifying leadership from a race perspective and that’s a very important hurdle to jump.

Niki Madison: I think the question should be asked as: "What work do FullStorians as a whole get the opportunity to do moving forward?" To have to do something sounds like a burdensome chore. To be a part of a company that chooses to focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion is an opportunity. Personally, I feel that seeing the actions made to solidify DEI work as central to FullStory's values has been the greatest showing of support. I'm excited to see the continued efforts to retain, mentor, and promote all FullStorians to their highest levels of achievement.

What made these Black History Month conversations so special wasn’t just that they were occurring; the impact came from the inspiring leadership and authenticity our BlackStorian colleagues showed while sharing their experiences, the connection felt amongst all those in the “room,” and the consistent engagement from FullStory leaders in these conversations.

Like many companies, FullStory is at an inflection point: we’re making strides toward a more inclusive and just culture where diversity is celebrated, and we know we’re at the beginning of a long journey. But these conversations remind us that the first few steps start with recognizing that everyone's experiences are different, using empathy, and stepping into their truth as if it were our own.

About the authors: Tim Simms, Niki Madison, Courtney Orgias, and Dani Constable co-authored this blog as part of our FullStorian ERG, BlackStorians.

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