Celebrating Black History year-round with Blackflow

Celebrating Black History year-round with Blackflow
Feb 28, 2022

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If you’re not familiar, an affinity group, also known as an employee resource group (ERG), is a group of team members linked by a common identity.

At Webflow, we fund our affinity groups and pay our affinity group leaders to create a safe space for support, empowerment, and allyship. 

This year, we spoke with four members of Blackflow: 

  • Alicia Diaz, customer support specialist
  • Danielle Andrews, technical support specialist
  • Drew Kozmary, software engineer, front end
  • Teira Smith, customer support specialist

Here’s what they had to say:

What initially attracted you to Webflow? What role/work do you do on the team now?

Teira: After what felt like a stroke of bad luck, I started to look for a company where I could truly feel like I belong. A few months later, I had a call with the Webflow hiring team. Webflow showed me a refreshingly pleasant, warm welcome even during the hiring process. I immediately set my heart on Webflow. Presently, I am a billing specialist on our customer support team serving Webflowers every day. 

Drew: A friend started working at Webflow and had nothing but good things to say about the folks who worked here and the policies of the company. I was elated to hear about how focused the team was on building tools to empower everyone to build websites. As someone with a background in accessibility and helping people change careers into technology, it spoke to me personally — I knew I had to work here.

Alicia: I hadn’t heard of Webflow before, but I saw a job listing and checked out the website. I could feel the sense of care Webflow has for its employees —  the core behaviors, the benefits, the culture, and just how well they treated their customers. After my first interview, I knew this would be the company I’d retire at.  Everyone was so nice and genuine and truly loved their job. I HAD to get in. I am currently on the Customer Support Team. 

How has Blackflow improved your sense of belonging at Webflow? What could other companies learn from your experience?

Danielle: Blackflow has been a welcoming change from previous companies I’ve worked for. The opportunity to have a place where you can feel like you actually belong is very refreshing. Most companies  “talk the talk,” but very few actually “walk the walk.”

Drew: I was excited to hear that we had a space for Black people at Webflow! It’s definitely helped me feel like I belong and I’m really thankful for its existence. I think it’s important to have spaces for Black people and other people of color within companies — to help us connect across different teams and lift each other up. I would encourage other companies to take note and institute their own employee groups. 

Teira: Blackflow has really proved the saying, “If they wanted to, they would.” Webflow wanted to create this space and they did. I feel like a lot of companies are afraid of this type of inclusion and they’d rather not address that even though we should be equals, we aren’t all treated equally — and that’s why these communities are needed. 

Alicia: Blackflow has improved my sense of being so much. I have never worked for a company where they put the needs of their employees first. Webflow understands just how important the Black community is and they proved that by allowing us to share a private space to be 100% ourselves. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to leaders who want to support Black people within their company?

Drew: Be proactive about understanding how your Black employees feel about their workplace. Reach out to them when events outside of work might weigh heavy on them and make sure they are being supported. Otherwise, you risk causing your Black employees to feel isolated and disconnected in the workplace.

Seek out ways to educate yourself. Being Black always comes with the weight of us having to defend ourselves. It helps when we have allies willing to do so even when we aren’t present too.”

Teira Smith

Danielle: The best piece of advice I can give any leader is to actually listen to what their Black employees are saying — and there’s a difference between hearing and listening. 

What impact/contributions are you most proud of at Webflow?

Danielle:I have felt included since the day I started. The progressiveness at Webflow isn’t just a thinly veiled implementation. Webflow actually takes the time to discuss and acknowledge the differences in their employees, and encourages the celebration of said differences. 

Drew: 2021 had its difficult moments, especially for the Black community. However, I felt a strong sense of community and inclusion each time my coworkers reached out via  Blackflow to talk about how they were feeling and offer support to each other. In the past, I have felt alone at work when dealing with difficult current events — but not at Webflow!

Alicia: Webflow has always made me feel welcome and comfortable. I always felt like I could be myself 100% of the time. I felt the most proud when my manager Bryan Garrant mentioned the things that were going on in the world and how he understands just how important Black lives are. That made me so proud. Webflow shows me each and everyday that they care. The work/life balance, the emphasis on mental health, and just letting us know they care. 

What can companies do beyond Black history month to empower their Black employees?

Drew: Bring in Black speakers to talk to your employees! It’s wonderful to celebrate the achievements of others, learn from them, and be inspired by them. Bringing in Black speakers who can talk about their past, and their climb to where they are today can be an incredibly empowering and delightful experience.

“Celebrate and acknowledge that we aren’t just Black in February, we are Black all year round.”

Danielle Andrews

Teira: It’s vital to know that we aren’t being recognized and celebrated for just one month out of 12. A good take away is to always empower Black employees no matter the date or season. 

Alicia: Companies should examine the organization behind the scenes. They should conduct diversity audits, diversify the hiring tactics, and engage with the Black employees. Let them know how important they are to the company. You can choose many things, but you can not choose your race. 

Inclusion is a journey — keep going

“African Americans are one of the most historically oppressed groups in the United States, “ says Alicia, “Other companies can learn just how much value and experience that Black people can bring to the business. We face many challenges and they should be aware of those challenges.”

Blackflow is just one of our affinity groups at Webflow. We are committed to continuously improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and creating a workplace where everyone feels a sense of belonging. 

If you’re interested in joining our team and doing this work with us, check out our jobs page

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NAKISISA GEORGE

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