Q: Please describe your job at Groupon and your involvement in Blacks in Groupon (B|G):
A: According to Groupon I am a senior sales executive. However, I consider myself to be a senior marketing consultant for Fairfield County. With so many online marketing solutions out there, I help businesses determine what solution is best for them. Typically its ours, but sometimes it isn’t. I am the Chair for B|G and I help guide and work with our committee board members to develop strategies and plans that further Groupon’s mission as well as B|G’s mission.
I became a member a few months after the initial talks of launching B|G. I remember a former colleague of mine approached me and asked if I want to join the group. I attended a meeting, where they were discussing what B|G’s mission would be and the name of the group.
At that moment I saw an opportunity to be a part of the diversity solution at Groupon, and have been a member ever since.
Q: What is the mission of B|G at Groupon?
A: B|G’s mission is to make Groupon a leader in Black and African-American commerce by leveraging ethnically relevant networks and to create a diverse and supportive network that attracts and develops talented Black professionals to serve the interests of Groupon and community at large, thereby promoting a culture of unity and excellence.
There are 43 million Black Americans in the U.S. By 2015 this group will have an estimated collective buying power of 1.1 trillion dollars. I see B|G as being able to help Groupon tap into this market. We are not actively marketing to this consumer nor is our value proposition geared toward this consumer. Going after this demographic presents us with a competitive advantage and a chance to grow market share. In addition, internally we want to help Groupon provide an environment that recognizes the value of diversity as it seeks to serve a diverse consumer base.
Q: Looking back at B|G’s first year as an ERG, what were the biggest accomplishments?
A: Looking back, B|G officially launched Feb. 21, 2013, before our official launch we had done some many key things to spark excitement and engagement. We partnered with Social Innovation to host Stacy Ratner, head of Open Books, and sponsored a book drive for Open Books, during which we collected over 1000 books. We launched a Black History month campaign in Groupon’s cafeteria and launched Groupon Salutes Black History Month all before we were an official ERG.
In addition, we were a sponsor at the African Arts Festival, and successfully invited Toni Preckwinkle to be a guest speaker for Groupon’s A View from the Top Speaker series, partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, as well as Citizen Schools, to help volunteer, hosted monthly lunches, and created a sports league.
2013 was a big year for B|G. I couldn’t say it was just one thing that was a big accomplishment for B|G. It was all the things that we had been doing throughout the year that made it a success. People are engaged, they are excited to find out what B|G would be doing next, and we are proud that we are able to provide an opportunity to network with others that have shared experiences.
That is what I would consider to be B|G’s biggest accomplishment…that B|G is helping the company provide a space where people feel welcomed and included.
Q: Why is it important for a group like B|G to exist in the workplace?
A: B|G and employee resource groups (ERGs) in general help the company promote an environment that values diversity. It is important for an ERG like B|G to exist in the workplace because it provides a place for employees to gain critical skills, and it provides leadership and networking opportunities beyond their current roles. Members become a part of a community, not to mention that it inspires loyalty to the company.
Q: How have employees responded to B|G as an ERG?
A: The response that B|G has gotten from the employees has been overall very positive. More employees are curious about B|G. I believe one of our initial hurdles was that people thought that they needed to be black in order to be a part of B|G or even attend an event. The fact is that all are welcome.
Q: What plans does B|G have for 2014?
A: 2014 will be a B|Ggger year. We have a lot of great events lined up this year that will put us in the community so that we are tapping into the collective black buying power and help the company be the employer of choice among people of color.