“The difference is you. People are going to go to that space because of you, whomever you are, whatever you look like. So be yourself.” — Bryan Davie, Member Experience Manager, Bethesda

Standardization across Industrious locations drives consistency and upholds quality for our customer experience. However, what makes each location uniquely special is the local team in place. Bryan Davie’s advice is, “Don’t be afraid to semi-aggressively be you, whatever that is.” 

The member experience in our spaces is enriched by the individuality that our location teams bring to them. “Find spaces in your employee experience where you can be yourself because that’ll make the difference,” Davie says.

The Black@Industrious Employee Resource Group exists to promote the inclusion, retention, and success of our company’s Black employees. We caught up with co-chairs Bryan Davie and Pamela Arzú (Member Experience Manager, Downtown Houston) to learn more about creating a safe space and building community engagement.

Community through organic growth

The Black@ ERG has enjoyed some fantastic organic membership growth over the past 12 months. Much of this has been driven by Pamela and Bryan’s desire to make the Black@ ERG not only a safe space and community platform but also approachable and not overly formal. 

“We have calls every month,” says Bryan. “They’re very unscripted and informal, we just wanted to make it an opportunity for people to connect and talk about whatever is on their minds.”

Many new members who joined the group in 2023 were brought in by current Black@ members, something which Bryan is proud of as it feels much more inclusive and akin to real life.

“I want it to feel like we’re at a park, and you see a group of people like you, and you ask if you can come join. And when you do, you bring other people with you,” Bryan says.

In fact, Pamela and Bryan’s friendship was born out of a chance interaction. 

“I’d ordered new branded mugs for all our MXAs, and during the time it took me to send them out I’d noticed that Pamela had got promoted! I congratulated her and we started chatting. At the time I was a co-chair of Black@ already, and she mentioned she wished we’d done something more to celebrate Juneteenth this year, so I just asked her: Would you want to be my co-chair? And here we are today!”

A former rugby player, Bryan likens the sense of camaraderie and teamwork he experiences being a member of Black@ and a co-chair alongside Pamela to his days playing the sport. 

“It’s all about knowing where your support is. I know if I’m running with the ball, and Pam is to my right, I can throw it there, and I know she’ll be there to catch it. If we can instill that for everyone, not just in our ERG, but across the wider company and for our members too, we’ll be in such a great spot.”

Showcasing Black@Industrious talent

When Bryan first stepped in as co-chair last year, one of his goals was to “create a community and show off what we have.” As they roll out Black History Month programming in February, Bryan and Pamela are showcasing the talent within Black@Industrious. Bryan noted, “I’m really excited that we’re getting to do that and to collaborate with other ERGs. It’s going to make the employee resource groups at Industrious bigger and more important.”

To start, Black@ is sending company-wide, weekly newsletters that celebrate different forms of art post-2010 – written works, music, and visual art by Black artists. The newsletters are a collaboration among Bryan and Pamela and several other Black@ members writing content: Madada Afrah (Member Experience Associate, Washington DC Union Market) leading the design and Lauren Miller (Member Experience Manager, North Loop Minneapolis) and Tia Warren (Member Experience Manager, Dallas Farmers Market).

Pamela emphasized how they want their ERG to know that they’re more than just members in a Slack channel. 

“We want you to feel a part of this and feel empowered. Show us your talents. There are so many talented people within this company, but if we don’t ask the right questions, we’ll never know about those talents. If we can foster those talents — in any way — why wouldn’t we?” 

For ERG members, they’re collaborating with the Latin(x) Bees on a book club reading of Paul Ortiz’s An African American and Latinx History of the United States which showcases the similarities in history both groups have faced. 

Pamela explained, “Most people attempt to separate our histories but in a lot of contexts, we have experienced similar injustices. Yes, it’s a heavy read, but knowledge is only power when being used in the right way. The Latin(x) Bees chose the book and I am thankful they brought it to our attention. It’s truly a great way to collaborate and have tougher conversations where both ERGs can learn from each other. Especially for me identifying as Black but also speaking fluent Spanish – this is the glue for me.”

The month concludes with a virtual panel event open to all Industrious employees and members across North America. The panel “Black Brilliance in Every Shade” features three Industrious members from Bryan’s location: African Ancestry, Healing Equity United, and The Hill Law Group. It will be a candid conversation highlighting Black excellence and discussing the importance of diversity in the workplace. 

“I want that to be a conversation starter within our Slack channels, maybe within their homes, maybe within their minds,” Pamela said. “I want them to be able to say, ‘I just heard a really great panel. I’m inspired. I need to get my life all the way together.’” 

In planning Black History Month activations, the co-chairs are striking a challenging balance. Bryan explained, “There’s still a good level of code-switching that happens at work. We’re trying to find that balance: How are we authentically ourselves and what do we want to show our company that we can do? How much of this do we want to have as one unified voice and how much of it do we want to just show ourselves?”

Crossing the divide between Industrious employees and members

Black@Industrious has a reach that extends beyond its employee members to Industrious customers. While the ERG regularly meets virtually and may have in-person touchpoints in denser markets like the DMV area, they’re expanding their sense of community to include the customer members of their Industrious locations.

Compared to the 15 locations in DMV where Bryan is located, Industrious currently only has two offices in Houston. The smaller in-person network prompted Pamela to experiment with new kinds of engagements for the ERG.

“It’s harder for me to establish community with Black@ here, in-person. So, I’m using Black@ as an extension to my members and showcasing what the ERG is doing to them. For example, at the end of Black History Month, I’m hosting a coworking day and working with a Black creative collective Oqupi Houston to get them into the space and to be able to work from Industrious.” 

Doing this shows Industrious location members what the ERG is doing for the Industrious employee community behind the scenes. According to Pamela, it “gives them a better sense of knowing that we’re happy here, we love where we work, we love what we’re doing, and Industrious wants to include us. I love being able to tell my members about what I’m doing for the ERG and I love that they’re also following up with me asking things like, ‘Hey! So what are you all doing for Black History Month? What can we look forward to?’”

“Honestly, we’re really here to establish community, make people feel safe, make people feel happy and want to work for Industrious,” concluded Pamela. “We are more than just the everyday 8-to-5, and we’re here to do great things.”