United in Diversity: Sparking Conversations from Black History Month

In recognition of Black History Month, our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEI&B) team and the Black Voices at Quartz Employee Resource Group (ERG) encouraged us to come together to discuss the meaning of this month, sparking a powerful dialogue within our company. This conversation was about fostering genuine understanding, championing inclusion, and exploring how each of us can contribute to a future where inclusion plays a key role in making well-living within reach for all in our communities.

Setting the stage for a meaningful dialogue, Nicole Barnes, Sr. Customer Success Representative, expressed: “Every day should be a celebration of Black history. Nevertheless, Black History Month stands as a unique moment to pay tribute and acknowledge the remarkable contributions, accomplishments, and narratives of African Americans across history. At Quartz, individuals are empowered to demonstrate their skills and uplift one another in an inclusive manner. The privilege to educate and be educated by our peers signifies an exceptional commitment to excellence.” As Chair of our Black Voices at Quartz ERG, Nicole consistently plays a pivotal role in nurturing inclusion.

Christine Senty, our President & Chief Executive Officer, emphasized the key role ERGs play in championing diversity in organizations. “ERGs provide a forum where people can share experiences and support each other in their personal and professional development. They create a space to gather people together who have commonalities or might be underrepresented in company culture or within communities. At Quartz, we have placed DEI&B at the center of our culture and vision. Support comes from all levels of the organization – including from the executive team.”

An executive sponsor of Black Voices at Quartz, Tom Ward, VP Chief Human Resources Officer, shared why celebrating Black History Month matters to him: “Growing up as a child in Wisconsin, my U.S. history education was very Western European centric and seldom touched on Black contributions. Each year, Black History Month allows me to learn of impactful, too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans throughout history. Celebrating Black history and accomplishments in February each year helps educate our employees, members and stakeholders alike on its impact on our American Culture and how it has shaped it. A historical focus on Black health and wellness can help us understand and prioritize the need drive towards health equity for our members and the communities we serve.”

Linsey Tennyson, Sr. Director of Employer Product and an executive sponsor of Black Voices at Quartz, emphasized, “As a learning organization, it only makes sense that we honor, recognize, and teach the cultures of the members, employees, and communities we serve. Acknowledging Black History Month as an organization does not only promote diversity, it also celebrates diversity. Black History Month should be used as an opportunity for people to reflect on and learn more about the significant contributions made by Black Americans. This time should be used to celebrate those who’ve impacted not only the country but the world with their activism and achievements.”

Elizabeth Priller, our Director of DEI & Belonging, expressed pride in our company’s ERGs ability to foster open dialogues and authenticity and highlighted the role they play in driving change even beyond the organization. “I’m proud that we have an opportunity to have healthy discussions like this, to be able to be authentic, and slowly heal some of these wounds for a better future,” she said, pointing out the importance of creating safe spaces where employees feel empowered to share their perspectives, experiences, and aspirations openly with one another. “By commemorating Black history and supporting ERGs, we inspire future leaders, contributing to a diverse health care workforce that understands and addresses the unique needs of a diverse community population. These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to creating a health care environment where everyone feels valued, leading to improved health outcomes and a more equitable health care system overall.”

Ted Muzinga, Talent Acquisition Specialist, echoed the sentiment that meaningful dialogue must continue beyond designated awareness months. “We still need to have these dialogues,” he stated. Ted’s words remind us that diversity and inclusion are not checkboxes to be ticked off but ongoing journeys that demand sustained effort and engagement. Later, he added “Growing up, I didn’t always see myself reflected in the history books or the narratives taught in school. Like many others, I felt a sense of invisibility, as if my story and the stories of those who looked like me were somehow less important. However, Black History Month changed that for me. It provided a platform to showcase the rich tapestry of Black excellence, resilience, and innovation that has shaped our world. As we celebrate Black History Month, let us not only look back on the achievements of the past but also look forward with hope and determination. Let us use this month as an opportunity to educate ourselves, uplift Black voices, and work towards a future where every individual is truly seen, valued, and empowered to reach their full potential.”

Shelly Slendebroek, Employer Product Manager, spoke to the collective responsibility we all bear in championing diversity. “It’s easy for some of us to ignore it, but it’s going to take all of us to change things,” she emphasized. “I’m going to continue to learn as much as possible, so I can be that voice with my friends, family, and community,” she affirmed, reminded us that change requires active participation from each member of our community. Jay Zapata, Salesforce Administrator, echoed that feeling: “I think someone else made this famous, but change is made one person at a time.”

Nicole Barnes wrapped up the conversation with a simple yet powerful statement: “All of us need to stand together. We are all one and need to love everyone openly as ourselves.”

Image featuring the words "Black History Month" and colors representing this theme: black, red, yellow and green. The white and red spark of Quartz Benefits is also displayed in the top right corner.
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