Since my days in the Navy serving under “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” I’ve understood the value and importance of being “out” at work. Being open and authentic in the workplace not only allowed me to make lifelong friendships, but it also gave me the courage and determination to stand up for myself and others. The desire to advocate for others led me to co-found the Nextdoor Rainbowhood Employee Resource Group in 2017. The Rainbowhood ERG has done many things that I’m proud of, one of which was marching in the Oakland Pride Parade on two occasions. Although, one experience still stands out amongst others with a lasting impact.
In 2020, Pride month began seven days into the Black Lives Matter protest movement, a protest that would become one of the largest movements in the history of the world spanning multiple cities and continents. The Rainbowhood ERG took that moment to open Pride Month with a statement of solidarity and support for our black neighbors and employees.
In the company-wide All Hands presentation, we talked about the BLM movement and how Black transgender women are the single most vulnerable and targeted minority. It was a reminder that not only do Black Lives matter, but that Black trans lives matter too. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this statement would leave an indelible impression deeper than I’d ever imagined. As it turned out, that week was the first week for Nextdoor’s first transgender employee.
After the All Hands was over, they reached out to me to thank me for the presentation and to let me know how much it meant to them. They went on to say how meaningful it was for the company to let them know that they were acknowledged, seen and, most importantly, welcome here. In further conversations, they shared that Nextdoor was the first time in their entire life that they felt empowered to be their true authentic self from day one.
They went on to create a framework that helped Nextdoor change our nomenclature and terminology both internally and on platform to make other Trans and non-binary people feel just as welcomed on Nextdoor as they felt watching their first All Hands.
This instance reminds us of why ERGs are so important. Why being an advocate not only for yourself, but for those who don’t always have a voice themselves is so important. Nextdoor provides our ERGs with the space to participate, grow and thrive in their communities at work. And when we’re all included, we are a stronger community as a whole.