Like many remote employees, Giselle Francisco joined Olo in late 2021 with the hope of connecting with coworkers beyond daily Zoom calls and Slack notifications. She quickly found her community in the Oloites of Color employee resource group (ERG).
Founded in 2020, Oloites of Color is one of several ERGs at Olo. ERGs are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. Each group organizes events and initiatives to advance professional development, strengthen internal relations, and build communities and allyship.
Oloites of Color was specifically created to provide a safe space for members and allies to discuss inclusion, opportunity, and education in the workplace and local communities.
For Giselle, Oloites of Color represented an opportunity to incorporate her passion for activism into her day job, learn from coworkers with different backgrounds, bond over shared experiences, and promote the value of DEI. So when a leadership position opened up within the ERG, she jumped at it.
We sat down with Giselle to get her take on why ERGs like Oloites of Color are so important in the workplace and how allies can demonstrate support year-round.
How do ERGs like Oloites of Color enrich employees’ lives?
Giselle Francisco: I come from the restaurant and hotel industries where you’re constantly interacting with people. When you transition to a remote position, messaging apps and email can feel limiting. ERGs give you that much-needed exposure to others at the company.
I look at it this way: You're on the job for 8+ hours per day. If you can carve out 30 minutes to an hour, once a month or once a quarter to unplug, connect with your coworkers, and learn something new, you'll be the better for it.
For example, when the Oloites of Color ERG meets up, members can discuss any adversity they may face because of their identity, share about their career progression, and learn more about others. Our events also create a space for allies to gain understanding.
The 20% of my time that I spend with the ERG makes the 80% of time I spend on my regular work so much more worthwhile.
Why is it important to promote a better understanding of colleagues from diverse backgrounds?
GF: Learning is a good thing for everyone—regardless of how you identify. When we start a dialogue with coworkers from multicultural backgrounds, we can better understand how they approach situations and their way of thinking.
Many people don’t realize that your background can impact how others see you, and vice versa. We can eliminate a lot of assumptions and mental gymnastics with open conversation.
Additionally, diversity enriches everyone. Learning from other cultures and backgrounds exposes us to things like new foods, languages, and perspectives.
How can allies show support for communities of color year-round?
GF: A big part of demonstrating support is doing the hard, internal work of recognizing your privileges. Those privileges can be minute or on a grander scale.
Once we can appreciate our privileges, we can better understand why others may not be as privileged—and how we can elevate them. It could be as simple as giving bus fare to someone struggling or packing an extra lunch for a child in need.
Small actions and repetition are better than no action at all. For example, during Black History Month, allies can demonstrate support through small actions like reading books by Black authors, visiting Black-owned businesses, and purchasing or viewing art by Black artists.
It’s also important to have conversations with communities of color and listen intently. Try to understand their perspective and the differences in experiences. There is a lot of uncomfortable history. But we have to get uncomfortable to be comfortable.