‘Elevating Pride Across Our Organization Happens 365 Days of the Year’ — Lessons From an ERG Lead

Sponsored by ZS

Tanya Shepley

Photo courtesy of ZS.

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For Tanya Shepley, an Associate Principal at ZS, her day-to-day job involves “helping clients uncover how and why patients make healthcare choices in order to help them build more impactful solutions that improve the lives of patients,” she explains. “My work is about keeping the patients at the center of the business strategies for clients and for ZS.”

But, this is not the only role Shepley plays at ZS — she is also a lead of their Pride@ZS group. This group, “serves as a powerful network for our community of LGTBQ+ ZSers and allies around the world,” shares Shepley. “In the last year, we codified the mission for our group, which is to foster an inclusive ZS culture, provide a network of support and belonging to raise awareness for LGTBQ+ issues and to nurture outreach to our local communities.”

As a leader in this group, Shepley’s remit is bringing ZS offices around North America together. And Shepley has been instrumental in helping to organize and expand the group to amplify their impact. “This led to helping form our charter and regional model,” she says.

Further, “during the pandemic, we brought multiple cross-office collaborations to life,” Shepley explains. “Now, it's not any one single office elevating our LGTBQ+ culture or awareness for our community issues, instead, we worked as office cohorts to really grow our community and foster the participation of ZSer in our initiatives, in outreach to community and in engaging LGTBQ+ candidates. In the last two years, we have really grown in the number of community members and allies who show up and participate.”

Want to learn more about being an ERG leader and how your company can support the LGTBQ+ community during Pride Month and beyond? Shepley shares some of her top advice with us below…

Do you have any advice for other people who are looking to become leaders in an ERG?

Bring your passion, and bring your curiosity for learning. There's much that I did not know about participating in an ERG before joining Pride@ZS, but there are a lot of resources out there and certainly a lot of valuable support within and outside of our organization; however, you have to be prepared to put in the time to learn.

How do the ERGs at ZS work together on intersectional events/projects? 

It is the passion I mentioned that drives those moments of intersectionality where groups come together. This tends to be driven by those who have a desire for a particular topic area and who are, themselves, part of two different groups and believe it is important for that moment or that aspect of intersectionality to be at the front and center. But, there is no prescribed playbook for this intersectionality; it is driven by individuals.

At ZS, some examples of this have included:

  1. The theme of our Pride Month activities during 2021, which focused on our intersectionality with Black communities that were foundational partners in the early days of the pride movement in the 60s and 70s. We shared stories of the intersections of our two communities. 

  2. We just held a shared movie night/discussion with our AAPI community this month.

  3. Our Pride@ZS and Women@ZS groups organized a panel discussion, inviting transgender speakers to share their stories with ZS in honor of last year's Transgender Day of Visibility.

How is ZS  — and your ERG — celebrating Pride Month this year? 

We're very excited to have the opportunity to be back in person with our colleagues, given that we’ve been virtual for most of the past two years. But, we also found a lot of value in those virtual moments of coming together during the pandemic. So, this year, we are planning for much more of a hybrid approach where we continue to nurture those cross-office communities and collaborations, all while having room for local offices to celebrate and encourage a broader set of allies to come together. 

We certainly think there's a lot to celebrate this year, and, so, we're looking forward to really bringing Pride Month back to life in the office with participation from all ZSers. With that celebratory note in mind, we are also very cognizant of the shifting political landscape and the new laws that are being written in certain parts of the country that are having a big impact on the LGTBQIA+ community. So, thematically, this year we are making sure some of the education is addressing those topics by highlighting the legislative changes that are occurring across the country and globally.

On a wider scale, how do you celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community throughout the year, both as a company and through the Pride@ZS group? 

Celebrating our community doesn't just happen in June, and we are very cognizant that Pride@ZS does not just show up to celebrate in June. Throughout the year, we have a number of community milestones and we do a lot of training and workshops about the four pillars of our charter. We also raise awareness by amplifying issues that occur or impact the LGTBQ+ community, while also ensuring that ZS is a welcoming and inclusive environment. Elevating pride across our organization happens 365 days of the year.

How does ZS support ERG leaders like yourself? 

Much investment in organizational development has been focused around the ZS ERGs in the last two years. ZS is really supportive of our employee resource groups, such as Pride@ZS. The development of the ZS people and culture team, that I am also a member of, brings together a very diverse group with the mission to hold our values true by nurturing, supporting and enhancing the ZS culture as we continue to grow. This group regularly collaborates with the ZS ERGs to ensure our cultural traits foster a welcoming environment for  diverse employees.

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