This post was written by the leaders of the QueerStorian Employee Resource Group (ERG): Sophia Amara Obiago, Dani Constable, Leticia Rosario, and Chiara Cavaggion.
Reflecting on the past year
It’s been a whole year and I find myself here again—writing a blog post about Pride Month, company culture, DEI, and my beloved QueerStorians ERG. However, things in my life, the world, and FullStory feel quite different.
In the last year, I have finally been able to go into the office to meet some QueerStorians and other colleagues face-to-face. FullStory has doubled in size. I moved to London to join FullStory's EMEA team. And unfortunately, a plethora of new anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation has been presented around the world, in progressive and more authoritarian countries alike.
Needless to say, heading into Pride Month, the pressure is heightened. The constant weight I know many of us feel, to say something, do something, be something, becomes ever heavier. For this reason, at the great suggestion of my colleague Dani, FullStory’s Pride Month programming will be centered around Wellbeing. This year we want to create space for people to take a deep breath and put themselves first, to enjoy the fun parts of Pride, celebrating all of our awesome and unique identities, and with the help from the other QueerStorian leaders—Leti, Chiara, and Dani—discuss the steps we have taken at FullStory to foster an environment where focusing on wellbeing is encouraged.
How far we’ve come since Pride Month of 2021
No person is an island. Likewise, I believe no ERG should be fueled solely by one person’s passion and dedication—for obvious reasons like burnout, fatigue, and continuity, but also because two heads are better than one!
At the end of summer 2021, I sent out a programming survey asking QueerStorians what they wanted from our group, what they were interested in, and what type of programming and support the group should provide. Responses ranged from social interests like game nights and book clubs, to more developmental ones such as the desire for a mentorship program by senior leadership and monthly “Lunch ’n’ Learns” dedicated to cross-departmental skill sharing.
Shortly after publishing the survey results, I put out a call for volunteers to help in creating the programming and leading the ERG. Since this type of work is usually not compensated and is supplementary to one's job description, it’s important that people volunteer and are motivated by passion and the desire to build something—instead of pressuring or naming people you think would be “good fits.”
And just like that, I gained three additional companions in my pursuit: Leti, Dani and Chiara. The “Rainbow Council,” as we call ourselves, came to fruition on November 3rd 2021, and as I said back then (taken from my original Slack message), “This is the fearless group that volunteered to help with some QueerStorians programming.”
ERG activities and impact
Let’s give a round of applause to all our QueerStorians! This year has been incredibly taxing for LGBTQIA+ and marginalized folx, so for me a focus on Wellbeing was the perfect theme for our Pride Month here at FullStory. When I started at FullStory in September, I had no idea that I would become a part of an amazing group of leaders seeking to continue to grow QueerStorians in impactful ways.
Here are a few specific ways we’re celebrating Pride Month and DEI at FullStory:
We kicked off Pride Month with a guided meditation and, with the help of QueerStorian Morgan McCaughey, we are finding ways to lean into that type of mindfulness each week this month.
Our #FullCircle discussion, focused on intersectionality during Black History Month, was a great representation of where I feel our organization has grown. These conversations about belonging are important for everyone, including allies, to hear because it is not only our job to make QueerStorians feel safe, but the job of the entire organization. From my personal perspective, while there is always more work to do, FullStory is doing a great job of supporting our differences. From honoring pronouns to holding space for us to celebrate Pride Month at HQ4—our global headquarters in Atlanta—it’s nice to be able to come to work as your whole self and not feel like you need to hide parts to make others comfortable.
The QueerStorians ERG is a space where so many of us get to feel seen, heard, and safe. We share our stories, we play murder mystery games and trivia, and sometimes we just talk about whatever comes to mind. It is a space full of encouragement—for both personal and professional goals—and I am so grateful to every QueerStorian for holding this space for each other.
Seeing Amara’s blog post last year influenced my decision to join FullStory, and I know the same holds true for many others. We’re confident that intentionally providing insight into belonging at FullStory will continue to bring new and amazing folks to our organization. Personally, I am excited to continue to work on growing QueerStorians’ impact.
QueerStorians’ influence on hiring and retention
Similar to Dani, Amara’s blog post was influential in my decision to join FullStory’s Recruiting Operations team in 2021. It inspired the belief that FullStory was somewhere I could thrive and, since joining, I’ve engaged with numerous candidates who echo this sentiment. My personal experience and these interactions serve as reminders that the employee experience begins during candidacy, and candidates yearn for representation that is visible, that is out and proud. This is why I continue highlighting the blog post, More than Pride month: QueerStorians and company culture in my communications with candidates. I hope that by doing so, candidates receive the following message: We see you, we celebrate you, and you can thrive here regardless of your sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other identity you possess.
Highlighting the voices of historically marginalized groups is one way in which we embrace our increasingly diverse community and attract diverse talent. Another is by creating space for representation that deviates from the binary when prompting candidates for their pronouns and gender identity.
Here at FullStory we are committed to ensuring an inclusive and equitable candidate experience while acknowledging that this is an ongoing journey. Throughout my time at FullStory, I’ve found that progress begins with the discussion of oftentimes uncomfortable and nuanced topics that call for the re-envisioning of existing processes, practices, and structures.
Any recruiting team committed to their DEI efforts must first be able to discuss difficult topics that shed light on shortcomings and potential improvements within recruitment, amongst managers and throughout the company as whole. At the core of these discussions lies a whole lot of empathy, data, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Caring to understand the perspectives of others, the analysis of objective numbers, and the creation of tangible goals have proven to be powerful tools in walking our talk and building out our DEI strategy within Recruiting.
How QueerStorians makes a difference for new hires
I joined FullStory exactly one year ago, on June 14th. I came from a large company that was diverse and progressive, and I didn't know if that environment could be matched. I was overwhelmed with joy when I realized how large the queer and ally community is here at FullStory—a happy surprise given that it was a smaller company. The week I joined, I attended a company-wide session called "FullStory Voices: Pride Edition." FullStory Voices is a monthly session where FullStorians spend a few minutes sharing on any topic they choose (their career journey, a hobby they’re passionate about, their family’s heritage, etc.) I didn’t know what to expect at the Pride Edition of this event, but four brave FullStorians shared their stories and hardships with the entire company. It was incredibly inspiring—so much so that I too want to give back, and I will be sharing my story during this year’s Pride Edition of FullStory Voices.
Soon after joining the company, I joined the QueerStorians group and became part of the Rainbow Council thereafter. This group has had an amazing impact on me and others. I feel happy and comfortable coming to work every day, knowing that I can share my true self with others. The QueerStorians ERG hosts lunches, plays games, spends time together, and discusses current events. This group has already grown so much since I joined, and I am excited to see how many more lives and careers it will impact in the future.
Looking toward the future
We don’t have all the answers. But we do have living proof that the QueerStorians ERG is making FullStory a better, safer, and happier place to work.
Here are some takeaways to consider for your ERG journey:
It takes two (or more). Successful ERGs cannot rely on one person's passion. To ensure longevity, set up a rotating governing body.
The employee experience begins at candidacy—don’t be afraid to show off your awesome culture during the hiring cycle. Oftentimes that makes the difference.
Ask and you shall receive. Employees know what they want and know what they need. Ask how you can support them and you will know where to focus your efforts
The Rainbow Council and QueerStorians have come a long way. We are discovering more ways to engage our members while adding value to FullStory. That added value takes many forms, but the most important one is that we have created an environment where all can thrive, all are celebrated, and all are welcomed for their differences—not in spite of them.