For the past two years, we have been able to connect with colleagues and participate in fulfilling philanthropic and fun activities in recognition of Black History Month. Much of the credit for coordinating these events and educating us about the contributions Black Americans have made throughout history belongs to BELIEF, the Employee Resource Group (ERG) for Black USAble Life employees and their allies.
If you scroll through the posts on BELIEF’s Teams channel, you’ll get a good idea of the volume and variety of information the group has shared. They’ve also offered workshops and webinars, and we’ve had fun participating in the contests they post to the channel. Thanks to their efforts, we often learn something or discover a Black-owned business that sells something we want or need.
Given the volume of information and the events they plan, you begin to understand the commitment of BELIEF’s members. “I don’t think most people realize the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes,” said Dowayne Peterson, BELIEF’s Team Leader and USAble Life manager, business systems. Dowayne, who’s been Team Leader since the group’s inception in 2021, is quick to give credit to the Action Team. “We couldn’t do any of this without their hard work.”
“Even before I joined BELIEF, my friends and I would make bags and give them to the homeless,” said Danae McGee, senior business systems analyst. “When you can come to work and have the opportunity to educate your co-workers about issues that affect the Black community, you get a double benefit. You’re able to give back to the community, and you have the satisfaction of educating people you work with about certain issues.”
Many Action Team members find that BELIEF provides them with an opportunity to develop new skills and transcend their day-to-day responsibilities. “I see nothing but potential,” said Athlene Jones, developer I-hybrid tech. “It’s definitely been beneficial to my personal development. “When team members have expertise in an area you don’t have, you can simply reach out, work together, and learn from them.” Athlene’s experience as an Action Team member of BELIEF and WISE (the ERG for the women of USAble Life) has given her new opportunities. She’s just been tapped to serve as co-Team Leader of WISE.
It’s also rewarding when people in the community express their appreciation, as Tiffany Jones, business systems analyst II, recently experienced. Tiffany was one of the many USAble Life Little Rock employees who participated in A Day of Impact Food Giveaway, sponsored by the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “One lady who was in line to get food came up and hugged me,” said Tiffany. “I wasn’t expecting that to happen, but it touched my heart. It’s always nice to know that you’re doing something that makes a meaningful difference.”
Members of all four ERGs often pool resources, share best practices, and embrace intersectionality. Many members of BELIEF are also members of WISE, UniteABLE (the LGBTQ+ ERG), or ENABLED (the ERG for employees who live with disabilities), so collaboration makes sense.
“We’re motivated to be a resource as often as we can,” said Lauren Gordon, manager, service improvement. “We’re involved in creating content, putting together initiatives and presentations, and volunteering in the community — whatever is needed — while also supporting the other ERGs. We’ve found many opportunities to work together. When an idea or something has worked well for us, we’ll share that information with the other ERGs.”
While BELIEF’s activities are front and center each February, the group’s philanthropic outreach is a year-round effort that involves employees at all USAble Life offices nationwide. The group is fulfilling its mission to empower and maximize diverse talent and lead change in our communities.