How To Organize Meaningful Company Pride Events With Sarah Reynolds of HiBob
Curious about the inner workings of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and their pivotal role in global corporations? Find out how they become more than just party planners, acting as the voice for employees’ concerns, education, and advocacy for benefits. Join us in a wide-ranging discussion with Sarah Reynolds, Chief Marketing Officer at HiBob, as they shed light on the integral role ERGs play at their renowned HR platform. They not only organize company pride events but also facilitate the transference of knowledge to the mainstream workforce or customer base.
This engaging conversation isn’t just limited to ERGs. We also touch upon the importance of year-round celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community, not just limiting it to Pride Month. From balancing learning experiences with festive celebrations to encouraging the involvement of allies, Sarah shares their valuable insights. They also weighs in on the ever-popular trend of “rainbowization” of logos during Pride Month and the importance of making it more than a one-month affair. This episode is an enlightening exploration of creating safe spaces for learning, celebrating diversity, and much more. Tune in and learn how to make your workplace more inclusive and celebratory.
Listening Time: 18 minutes
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Creative marketing executive with deep experience in growth acceleration through product marketing, brand identity and strategy, demand generation, content marketing, marketing operations, website design, and strategic management. Passionate about pay equity, the intersection between ethics and technology, and digital transformation strategies that put people first. Non-binary and frequently found shouting about inclusive language.Follow
How To Organize Meaningful Company Pride Events With Sarah Reynolds of HiBob
William Tincup: [00:00:00] This is William Tincup and you’re listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Sarah on from HiBob, most people just call it Bob and where our topic today is how to organize company pride events. So Sarah, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and
Sarah Reynolds: HiBob. Absolutely. So as you said, my name is Sarah.
I am HiBob’s new ish chief marketing officer. I have been in the role, yay, just under six months. My [00:01:00] pronouns are they and them. And I’m also, I should probably mention one of the executive sponsors of HiBob’s, HiPride what we call BRG, Bobber Resource Group which is ERG. To the rest of the world.
Hi, Bob. For those of you who don’t know where the company behind Bob is an HR platform for the types of companies and the types of folks who really care about their people who are, modern and probably midsize and on a journey to be multinational or they’re thinking about, you know how to manage their global workforce already.
And we do everything from performance management and compensation management, time off requests, absence management employee recognition employee engagement. It’s a really it’s a comprehensive platform and we are really excited to be introducing it to the market. Thank you so much for having me.
William Tincup: Oh, absolutely. And I believe you did your start in London. Do I have this right? Yeah,
Sarah Reynolds: we so we actually we started in Tel Aviv and London. Yeah. London is one of our biggest offices and the UK is one of our most exciting [00:02:00] markets. And now we have offices. I am very happy to say in six or seven places across the world, including London, New York, where I am today.
Sydney Amsterdam, Lisbon, Tel Aviv, Berlin. Yeah we are growing fast and like I said really excited about about Bob and about the opportunity.
William Tincup: And what’s great is it’s a global company. Not only is it a global presence and you go, but you’re actually helping global customers.
Sarah Reynolds: Yes. And, for folks who work in global HR, that comes along with a really unique challenges, especially when you’re trying to scale a company culture across many different global sites. And really excited to be like filling that, that niche need for folks who are thinking about how to put people first around the globe.
William Tincup: Love that. I’ve been a fan for a long time. Let’s, let me ask back cause you, you went into the ERG, what y’all call your ERG. Tell me a little bit more about that real quick.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah. We have ERGs or we call them BRGs, Bobber Resource Groups. Our our first ARG is actually called High Pride.
It is LGBTQIA plus employees and allies at High [00:03:00] Bob. And I am very grateful to be one of the executive sponsors of our High Pride BRG.
William Tincup: Oh, that’s cool. That’s cool that you’ve brought Bob into that, but also I love that you’ve got a group of people as well as allies all getting together talking about things.
How do you I mean, this is more of a theoretical question than anything that you’re doing at Bob is how do you get some of the knowledge out of the BRG and out more into the mainstream part of either your workforce or even your customers? Like, how do you, because you’ll learn things, right? I would, I am, I’m assuming you learn things.
So how do you feel like the transference of that knowledge should play out?
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah, so I think about especially with a an ERG or a BRG focused on the LGBTQIA plus community, sometimes ERGs get overly Guess on, what do we do for a certain month of the year that is celebrating this group of employees at our company?
And then the rest of the year, [00:04:00] it’s Oh, yeah, they meet amongst themselves, but really, the company interacts with the most during pride month or during black history month or women’s history month, or any of the great holidays that we celebrate in In our companies and I think it’s an incredible opportunity to obviously recognize your lgbtqia plus employees during pride month, but you were Your erg is so much more than a party planner and so I think that I think your erg right is like a way for you to really understand the voice and The differentiated employee experience of a marginalized or traditionally marginalized group, right?
It is a critical conduit For, employee concerns from that group to reach your management team. It’s a, it’s an incredible way for employees of that group to articulate their needs to maybe advocate for new, let’s say, benefits. That would be really meaningful to them. It’s a really great opportunity for them to provide education to your [00:05:00] organization about, the topics or about the concerns that are of interest to them or have a big impact on their employee experience or their employee.
Their experience of working at your organization. And so I think that, the main thing if you’re on the receiving end of all of that is to make sure that you’re listening and make sure that you are encouraging those folks to share and not treating them as a really great party planner, which, of course, we are, but that you’re treating them as a Appreciate it.
365 days a year advocate and consultant and educational arm. Yeah, exactly. And then also, one thing I tell people all the time is sometimes when you’re a member of one of these communities, you shoulder, or you can feel like you should. Holder the responsibility for being like the perfect representative or the only educational representative.
Let me speak for
William Tincup: all african americans
Sarah Reynolds: ever Yes, yeah, let me speak for every non binary and trans person when I say Inclusive language is important. Anyway you know That, that’s a heavy burden to [00:06:00] put on a small group of people who already have, full time jobs on their plate, are already trying to be great, community support folks, are already trying to be great party planners, maybe, as part of their work in near ERG.
There is a, an incredible resource out there that I want all of your listeners to know about, and that is called the Internet. And you can go on it and you can learn from… I know what have you heard about this? It’s amazing. You can learn from people of all different walks of life. You can learn from leaders in these communities who are out there doing the work and you can educate yourself for free.
I am here to tell you so that when you have those really interesting opportunities to interact with the great folks in your ERG who are coming to tell you something or are coming to articulate and ask or a concern that you already have a leg up. In, understanding why this is important and that you’re not forcing them to shoulder the responsibility of being the perfect minority or the perfect member of a marginalized group in advocating for, everyone at your organization.
William Tincup: So a couple of things I want to get your take on [00:07:00] before we go into to pride month is explicitly is. You’ll hear things from folks around Pride Month is great, but should we celebrate Pride every day? So you’ll hear the line of logic that basically says why do we have a month?
Why should we have all the year? And the other thing I wanted to get your take on is, I think it’s the rainbowization of logos during pride month, which I’m speaking as a heterosexual male. I, it drives me crazy but again, I’m not part of that group. So maybe, maybe it is a thing, but it drives me crazy.
Cause it’s like, why don’t you just leave it as a rainbow all year long? So you actually really care, but then again, I’m not a part of that community, so I don’t really know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. So just what’s your take on the both of those things?
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah. I’m a member of the LGBTQIA plus community year round.
I am proud of my [00:08:00] identity. Not just in
William Tincup: June.
Sarah Reynolds: What? I know.
William Tincup: It’s coming to an end for you. July’s coming.
Sarah Reynolds: I am a queer, non binary, trans person 365 days a year. I cannot turn it off because it’s not a choice, right? I am this person and I am proud all year round. And I think, one of the things about, listening to your members of your ERG is making sure that you’re doing that year round, right?
But I think about Pride Month specifically, it’s an opportunity to draw attention to things that sometimes we take for granted. Or to pay a little bit of extra attention or to create some new and interesting opportunities for you to, listen to that community, interact with that community, and honestly celebrate that community as an ally to us.
Because we might be proud, 365 days a year, but that doesn’t mean that you go home and think about, queer culture 365 days a year. If you are, maybe a white. Cisgender heterosexual male, right? That might not be part of, what goes through your mind every [00:09:00] single day I think this is an incredible opportunity to celebrate, the contributions of lgbtqi plus, folks to society to bring attention to the ongoing challenges that again not everybody sees or not everybody thinks about or not Everyone is on the receiving end of 365 days a year and then You know, if I think about your question about the logo as much as I would love for our world to be, rainbow themed again, all day, every day, just like my life is rainbow themed all the time.
I think that, it is, it’s an opportunity for brands to show their support. And I would probably have told you if you had talked to me last year, I could have talked to you off about whether you call it pride washing or rainbow washing about how, sometimes this. This like cringy show of support one month of theater is like hollow from a lot of organizations.
And I think that’s still true. I think that, this type of marketing or this type of support, it resonates best when you are doing it in authentic way, when you are a company that, [00:10:00] yeah, when you’re doing the work or you’re, when you’re a company who, for example, doesn’t.
Spend the three, the other, 335 days of the year donating to conservative politicians, maybe. I think what’s changed for,
William Tincup: for me and for you is what’s gone on recently in conservative networks where they’ve boycotted brands that, that did the right thing. Quite frankly, I’m thinking about Bud Light in particular.
They did the right thing. That is a great campaign. It, it showed the breadth of what Bud Light, again, it’s not my beer of choice, but again, it showed breadth. I thought it was, I thought that it was just the right thing to do. And conservatives have attacked it in such a way that’s just, it’s beyond mean spirited.
It’s just, I can see how, I can see how your views changed a bit.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah. I think that, that backlash, whether you’re thinking about Bud Light, or you’re thinking about Target, or you’re thinking about, anything else that’s been in the news, I think that, to be honest, that was an [00:11:00] opportunity for people whose support was always, commercial, or was always hollow, or was always inauthentic, to say, you know what?
We don’t even have to change the logo this year. It’s unpopular it’s risky. It’s, it’s gonna, it’s, we think that there’s going to be backlash against it. And so we’re not even going to do the bare minimum of changing the logo. And so I think my views on, changing the logo and I very proudly changed our high bod logo and wrote a whole blog post.
About why it was important for me to do especially in the wake of all of the things that are going on, whether you think about legislation or you think about the discussion around inclusive marketing, or you think about some of the protests that have happened, it was really important for me to be visible and to be, shouting my support for my community from the rooftops at a time when other people were maybe taking the opportunity to take a backseat or to not even do The sort of like cringey corporate pride thing.
William Tincup: when you when that’s when you find out who your friends really are. Absolutely. That’s again, the cringe that we, again, we [00:12:00] could spend a whole lot of time with that stuff. But when faced with some type of adversity, especially from conservatives and really it’s not conservatives that are really doing this.
It’s, The other it’s the far end of the right party. That’s just wacky, crazy, zany. They’re the ones that are driving the train which of course is insane, but you get to find out who your friends are. So like I went to Alabama for undergrad and this is back in the nineties and I remember taking a political science class.
We were talking about racism. I asked the class at one point, I’d be like, do you want your racism? in front of you and out marching? Or do you want them in suits and having meetings without you? Because you like to actually think that there’s a world in which we’ll never have racism. That’s silly. Of course you’re always going to have, because what’s the difference between bias and racism?
Bias is a way to justify racism. So you’re always going to have racism. You can minimize it, you can diminish it, [00:13:00] you can do all kinds of things to prevent it, et cetera, but you’re always going to have it. But do you want it in front of you? And it’s where you can acknowledge that there’s a KKK right there.
They’re having a march. Okay. Now we knew who they are. Fantastic. Or do you want to hidden from you? And I’ve always leaned towards, I’d rather know, if you’re a staunch supporter of Trump or whatever, and you don’t believe in anything in, in, in your community at all, you think it’s a choice and all that stuff.
I would like to know that.
Sarah Reynolds: Thank you for identifying
William Tincup: exactly. I’d like to know that because you know what now I don’t have to deal with you because now I know you’re not a person of logic or reason. So I could just not deal with you, but I got to move to pride month because we’ll get in trouble if we don’t talk about what organizing a, pride month events.
Obviously, what do you what do you like to see? Others doing, but also, what you’ve done with Bob, what do you like to see? What [00:14:00] do you think is really good? What are some of the things maybe, it’s like that stop, start, continue model, what would you like to see in pride events?
What would you maybe like to see the
Sarah Reynolds: last? Yeah. So I like to see a good mix of like education and fun. And I like to see community involvement, not just from the folks in your ERG, but from the entire organization. So at Bob, our pride month, we actually, I just watched a drag queen walk into our New York city headquarters because we are hosting a a drag bingo event.
Oh, I’ve been a
William Tincup: judge in New Orleans. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve been at a competition . And it was actually a lot of fun. But Yes, go ahead. I’m sorry.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah and it’s a tremendous amount of fun Right? And it’s an incredible celebration Yeah. Of the beauty and the vibrancy of the LGBTQI plus community and in an event that everyone can, enjoy.
But we’ve also hosted events with some of our Partner organizations some of our like friends in the tech [00:15:00] space that are focused on things like, inclusive language training and are focused on things like the history of we had one session on the history of LGBTQIA plus monarchs throughout history.
It was like. It was, it’s like a little something for everyone. So I think it’s an incredible opportunity to hear from folks. And I will also say just because I am a big believer in this it’s also an incredible opportunity that if you are asking, especially members of the community to come in and speak to your company or host a a fabulous party that you compensate them for their time.
But you don’t ask people to do it as a favor, or you don’t ask them to do it, for exposure or, whatever that you are offering them in lieu of compensation. Please pay people for their time whether they’re a creator or an educator because their time is valuable and it is providing a tremendous service and a tremendous opportunity for you to engage with them and engage with the community more broadly.
William Tincup: Yeah, that’s basic respect, right? If you respect somebody, [00:16:00] then you’re going to compensate them for their time, because time is money. I love the balance, the yin and yang of education and fun. And I can see education, like I, I think San Francisco Terminal One, now they have a huge Harvey Milk Retrospective.
It’s basically his entire life and photos and all kinds of stuff. And it’s you know what, I had a couple of hours. I just, I was literally learning all that. I felt like I had a pretty good understanding, but not to the details in which the exhibit took you through. So it’s like. I love the education because you can do like what y’all have done where you take some parts of history okay, you look backwards, then there’s education.
It’s okay. Here’s present. Here’s what’s going on. Here’s some of the legislation that we’re seeing, et cetera, like here’s today, and then maybe even here’s some of the things of the future. Here’s some of the things that we’re looking towards either as a threat or with jubilation whatever that may be.
How do you get, how do you get allies? Yeah. Involved again, it’s like my question I asked earlier [00:17:00] about the BRG, it’s if we don’t educate the mainstream of the company, then how do we actually really impact change?
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah. I think the first thing is making sure that people even know about if you are hosting an event, make sure the whole company knows about it.
And that sounds like really basic, but I have seen, even in our own work, sometimes we’re like, Ooh, we’re going to host a session that is like really valuable on, I did something for women’s history month that was focused on negotiating salaries and they said okay, we’re going to offer this as a session to our to our ERG members at a previous company.
And I said, I love that. And I want to create a safe space for the ERG members to ask questions about what it’s like to be femme presenting or to be someone who identifies as a woman and. And how you negotiate salary from that perspective. I’d also, though, love to see a second event where we are engaging, the broader community about education on this topic and that we’re promoting it, really heavily to everyone, not just members of the ERG.
And I was very lucky the [00:18:00] organization was, on the same page as me. But, if I think about events that we’re hosting, it’s making sure that it’s not just the listserv or the slack channel, or, the employee notifications to go out to your ERG members who can benefit from taking part in these events.
But also notifications to the whole company. And then I think, encouraging your your executives, your leaders. To take part in these events and really show up and, listen and participate and ask questions and be visible even if your leaders don’t, maybe identify as a member of one of these groups.
I think that it’s an incredible opportunity for them to really set the right stage when it comes to, active participation in both the educational and the fun side of these types of pride events.
William Tincup: So a friend of mine, actually my best friend, he took me on a pride tour a couple of years ago where we went to nine different cities and you’ve obviously, for folks that are listening, the city events it’s so much fun.
Because everyone comes out we did Dallas as one of them and [00:19:00] everybody comes out and it’s just fun. Like it’s, I would say a party, it’s a celebration. And I love, again, everything you’re doing with education, I love that. Because again, I think both the community and outside of the community, but also remembering that, you know what?
There’s something fun to this as well. That should be fun so that people get into it. Like I remember when he first pitched it to me, I’m like, I don’t know. Because, no, seriously, William, you’ll, you’re going to have fun. Just come with me. Just come with me. Come with me and my husband.
We’re going to have fun. I’m like, all yeah. Let’s do it. He, we booked travel. We did the whole bit and it was probably the best trip I’ve had. It was just, it was fun. Like I met a lot of different people, but it was just like, people were smiling. Like like it was.
Thoroughly a celebration. And I just, I love that. And I love that y’all look, you look at pride events in particular at blending those two things together.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah, [00:20:00] I think it should be fun, right? Like it’s you love to do things, right? You want to do things again and again when they are fun, but I also think that it’s our responsibility, to go back to the listening part of the conversation, to make sure that folks.
Get the education about, what are the top concerns of the community? What kind of a rich and storied history does this community have? Why should I pay attention to it? 365 days a year, even if it’s new to me, even if I don’t have a personal connection to it otherwise. And I think that’s why that blend is so important.
And I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to do that tour, because I think that it, I think that it is fun and it, it should be fun, but it should also be, something that. That you take with you and you go back and you say you know what, the next time I see a news article about, what it’s like to be a trans person in Florida, for example, that I think back to that fun that I had and all those amazing people that I met and think about how this is impacting them.
And I, I can develop a little bit more, maybe empathy for the community or I can, I can, take that leap and post on social media about how awful this is, because I feel comfortable and because I know that, my network is going to support me because I know that it’s, it has people like me who have [00:21:00] had similar experiences and great, opportunities to interact with the community.
William Tincup: So do you feel any pressure whatsoever? If you’ve had a great pride month, let’s just say we’re at the end of June. So you had a fantastic pride month. Is there any pressure to have a Better pride month next year.
Sarah Reynolds: I think it depends how you define better. I think so one of the things that I talk about all the time is that inclusion is a journey.
It’s not a destination. And so for all of those companies who are thinking about, am I changing my Yeah. Am I changing my logo for Pride Month and then I put it back and I don’t have to worry about it or, how do I make my, how do I make sure that, when someone sees a rainbow logo, that it really is an authentic representation of how my company views, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging work more broadly.
I think that you you should think about, not just, hey, is it like, how do we have a bigger, Better batter, pride month party next year, but I also think that it’s an [00:22:00] opportunity for you to think about what am I going to do between now and next year to be more inclusive, to create a better sense of belonging in my organization, to drive equity, to improve our, our diversity positioning.
I think about it through an intersectional lens. So I don’t just think about, okay, how am I going to better represent or support my LGBTQIA plus community? But I also think about it through how am I going to drive accessibility? How am I going to drive better support for my black, indigenous, or people of color employees or employees who identify as black, indigenous, or people of color.
I think about it as how am I going to make sure that when Black History Month or Women’s History Month or an opportunity to recognize the Latinx community comes around that I encourage them and I support them in being able to throw a great party and also have some educational opportunities of their own.
And I think about, what can I do so that next year if someone says is it really authentic for our company to be changing our logo for this month or that month? I can very confidently say, [00:23:00] absolutely we’ve done, we have done a lot of really good work. Are we perfect?
No, but we’ve done a lot of really good work between, last pride month and this pride month. And I feel even more confident this time around in, shouting to the world about my support for this community. So last
William Tincup: question. What’s and you probably get this from the board of the executive team, but what’s success?
Like, how do you view or do it doesn’t necessarily have to be success, but I would assume that somebody at one point along the way is saying, okay what’s the goal? What do you, how do we know that we did it right? Or how do you know that we’ve You know, made some impact.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah. I think if you are sitting in an HR role right now, you might field some of those questions that sound like how do we make sure the folks who identify as part of one of these communities are having a great employee experience. And so it’s about. Maybe using tools like Bob, where you can look at, your employee engagement scores and you can, yeah, nice plug, right?
That was smooth from the marketing officer [00:24:00]
William Tincup: just flowed so easily. Go ahead.
Sarah Reynolds: Just kidding. No, you can, but you can look at, what is our, what what does our diversity, equity and inclusion data look like? How many of our employees have. felt comfortable enough to self ID as a member of this community in an HR platform.
What do we, how do we use that data to look at our employee engagement scores and cut our employee survey data and say, are the folks who identify as certain members or members of certain communities having a really great employee experience, or is it really differentiated? In all the ways we don’t want it to be right and what can we do about it?
I think that there’s a tremendous opportunity for you to do some really interesting data work If you’re sitting in an hr seat if you’re sitting in a marketing seat I talk about how inclusive marketing is smart marketing because inclusive marketing is about widening your audience And I talk about how you know I am focused on accessibility as like one of the things we need to work on at Bob when it comes to our marketing and our web presence, not just because I’m someone who is, [00:25:00] who has an invisible disability and who really believes that we should make, our website more accessible to folks who are engaging with it, say via a screen reader, but also because it’s really great for SEO and it’s really great for making sure that people are coming to our website and finding our content and being able to read all the great stuff that we put out there about, HR best practices or about inclusive marketing.
I’m really passionate about all of that stuff, but I’m passionate about it because it’s good. It’s the right thing to do. And also, it can be good for business. And so I think that, depending on the audience that you’re talking to, and depending on, who’s asking the question about, what does success look like when you’re talking to employees?
It’s about how are you supporting the community? How are you making sure that you’re you are authentic in, representing your support and that your support does extend 365 days a year when it’s your board asking, maybe it’s a different, it’s a slightly different, more, more nuanced answer about, data or about your DEI and B work or the initiatives you’re undertaking or about how your marketing, reaches the widest audience [00:26:00] possible.
William Tincup: Drops my walks off stage. I could talk to you forever. Thank you so much for carving out time and coming on the show.
Sarah Reynolds: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This is such a joy to to talk to you about and obviously, a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. I am so excited for your audience to start thinking about, maybe their planning of their next five months and everything.
Everything they’re going to do in between now and then to make it, a really authentic representation of the employee experience of LGBTQIA folks at your company. You
William Tincup: did it so well throughout the entire show. I don’t know how you did it. So close. I can’t do it. I’ve tried. I have to spell it out in my head.
I’m you did really well with it because that was the only time. The it’s hard. It’s actually really hard to go through all of them and give them all the respect that they deserve. Absolutely. Sarah, I know you got to get on to your next thing. Thank you so much. Yeah.
Sarah Reynolds: Thank you so much for your time and chat soon.
William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for [00:27:00] everyone listening until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.