Here at BARK, we’re always looking for opportunities to make people feel connected to each other on an individual level as well as to BARK culturally. (In addition to our overwhelming obsession of dogs, of course.) One of the ways we try to foster a diverse and inclusive work culture is through our Employee Resource Groups, aka ERGs. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that are made up of a community of team members with shared identities or experiences.
Our ERGs are dedicated to upholding the pillars of DEI programming, which in our case focuses on recruiting, advocacy, education, and retention. Our ERGs are open to all BARK locations and employees, and everyone is encouraged to join one (or many) as a member of the community or as an ally.
Below are overviews of the BARK ERGs and some of the recent programming they’ve put on for the company!
The RainBARK ERG fosters a positive and safe environment for LGBTQIA+ folks of the BARK Pack. Our main objectives are to educate, celebrate and support in matters pertaining to our queer employees. We strive to not only impact the daily lives of those who work here but to also see how we can impact the LGBTQIA+ community in surrounding areas for the better.
This past week we celebrated the Trans Day of Visibility to recognize and celebrate the trans members of the BARK community. To ensure that they and their allies weren’t just visible but looking and feeling their best, we hosted a photoshoot complete with hair, makeup, and a custom backdrop designed by our RainBARK members. Paper crowns also made an appearance, because trans folk should always be treated like royalty.
Last month we hosted a Sober St. Patrick’s Day Game Night, where RainBARK members could spend time together away from crowded bars and green beer. And, of course, Community Pride, where our office marched together and soaked in the color and joy flooding the streets of Columbus, Ohio.
Black BARK Magic
Black BARK Magic’s goal is to create a strong internal network that fosters personal and professional growth, while ensuring that BARK pack members of all shades feel comfortable and empowered in our environment. Our main objectives are to encourage open conversations, strive for representation, and identify ways to improve the neighborhood for Black communities in our own, BARK way.
Skate Night was a hit, celebrating the rich history the Black community has had in roller rinks, as was our Back-To-School Backpack Initiative to provide school supplies to inner city middle schoolers. In honor of Black History Month, we were fortunate enough to host renowned storyteller Tim Wright of Attucks Adams for 3 discussions on The Great Migration. We are currently planning a Juneteenth Bazaar in our Columbus, Ohio office to feature black-owned business within the community
LatinX provides an inclusive and supportive space for LatinX employees and friends to spend time together and collaborate on community, company, and cross-professional events. Our main objectives are to increase LatinX representation across the company, advance our ability to support our Spanish-speaking customers, and make a positive impact on the community and our BARK environment.
To help the Spanish-speaking voices in the BARK community to flourish, LatinX hosted a series of Spanish-first events, and encouraged everyone from newbies to fluent speakers to attend. Our Happy Hour featured rapid fire, “speed dating” style conversations entirely in Spanish, and Bingo Night used bingo cards with Spanish words and phrases commonly used on ouy customer service side of the business to arm non-Spanish speakers with a solid base vocabulary to use when they encountered Spanish customers.
Latin American Heritage Month was celebrated with a Scavenger Hunt: each member made an incredible homemade meal that could only be enjoyed after attendees found the Flags of Latin America hidden around the office. All proceeds benefited Proyecto Mariposas, a non-profit that provides an environment of learning, sharing and support to Latina Girls and their mothers. Our SVP of Customer Operations and chief driver of our LatinX presence and audience, Hernán Giraldo, was also kind enough to share some stories of his life growing up in Puerto Rico.
Mindful Mutts provides a safe, inclusive community full of support, resources and education for our BARK pack. Our main objectives are to end the stigma on mental health in the workplace through advocacy, education, and awareness; this includes normalizing the honest conversations on mental health topics, advocating for business changes in relation to mental health, and offering tools & support to strengthen everyone’s mental wellness toolbox.
In the past we have walked together in the Out of Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention, and were able to host animal-assisted social worker and grief expert Adam Clark in a session about handling pet grief around the holidays. Adam enjoyed his time with us so much that he agreed to return to give another talk titled “Navigating COVID-19 as a Collective Trauma Experience” early in the pandemic to help bring our employees peace and validation in this difficult time. To continue our commitment to providing respite during the pandemic, we also hosted meditative art classes that involved knitting, drawing, and painting, to help our community find healthy outlets to cope with these “unprecedented times” (a phrase we can all agree we never want to hear ever again!)
The Accessibility ERG strives for equity in the opportunities for those who identify as having a disability, caretakers of those with disabilities, and allies of the disability community. We aim for a positive, inclusive, and accessible environment for all employees with varying abilities. Our main objectives are to increase disability representation across the company, advance our accessibility to support our customers with disabilities, and make a positive impact on the community and our BARK culture.
As this ERG was formed during the pandemic, in-person initiatives have been limited, however we have come together virtually to write cards to frontline workers at Heinzerling, learn about service dogs firsthand from a licensed service dog trainer, and discuss respectful language surrounding disability with Dr. Chris Ross, Assistant Director of Professional Development and School Improvement at Ohio School for the Deaf and the Ohio State School for the Blind
The AAPI ERG provides camaraderie and community to the Asian, Asian American, Pacific Islander professionals at BARK. We aspire to be a source of strength and compassion through our shared experiences, growth through diversity and inspire others through the lens of our culture. By mobilizing the power of our professional network we will use our shared strengths and skills to be a force of kindness, and support in the community in and out of BARK.
In the past our AAPI ERG has aided Korean K9 Rescue in NYC to help furry friends in South Korea find their new families abroad. In light of the horrific violence against members of the AAPI community, Self-Defense Nights were also hosted to ensure that our AAPI pack members can feel safer as we navigate the cruel and uncertain circumstances our Asian and Pacific Islander pack members are grappling with each day
Girls to the Front
Girls to the Front is a supportive community of individuals who identify as women who empower and and inspire each other to be their best, most authentic selves. Our objective is to ensure that women throughout BARK and in our communities are treated equitably, have opportunities available to them, and have an open forum for sharing experiences that particularly affect those who identify as women. We aspire to lift each other up in positive ways and to be a role model for each other and the women in our lives.
In addition to our regular happy hours, we plan on ending Women’s history month on a strong note by hosting a virtual panel featuring BARK leaders who identify as Women to discuss topics surrounding Women in The Workplace. It will be led by our Cofounder Carly Strife; Director of Content & Communications Stacie Grissom; VP of Accounting, Controller Rosaleen Pizarro; and Head of Growth Marketing Alexandria Esguerra. Each speaker will tell the story of how they got where they are today, and provide answers during our Q&A portion where attendees can submit questions and topics they would like to see covered. More programming is currently in the works, so stay tuned for future events!