The mission of Adobe’s Black Employee Network (BEN) is to recruit, retain, and advance diversity at Adobe and in the tech industry. This is done by providing awareness to diversity issues, facilitating personal and professional growth, and participating in activities that uplift local communities. And through this mission, BEN has rapidly evolved into an integral part of the Communities at Adobe.
When asked what the goals were for BEN this year, Karen Robinson, BEN’s executive sponsor, said, “We’re going to build upon the great work done by past BEN leadership. We are excited to continue the development and expansion of the Adobe BEN community across all of our offices. We also want to welcome all of Adobe to learn more about what BEN does and the contributions made to this great company and the communities in which we all live.”
To support this, the Employee Network sponsors events like our annual Black History Month celebrations, classes on Hip Hop and traditional African dancing, and performances from groups like the Oriki Theater. Last year, BEN also hosted the inaugural cohort of Howard West for a tech trek, networking session, and keynotes from our CTO & EVP of Cloud Tech, Abhay Parasnis, and our EVP of Customer & Employee Experience, Donna Morris.
Behind all these events are the dedicated members that make up BEN. To get a closer look at the work they do and what it means to be a member, we chatted with Portia Neal, Manager, Traffic and Export, and Taylor Alarcon, Program Manager, Renewals Program.
For Portia Neal, who’s been with BEN since day one, becoming a member of BEN changed her Adobe Life. “Since joining BEN, the scope of things I’ve been involved with and what I’ve done has grown exponentially. I feel more connected, valued, and I feel like I have more to offer. I thought Adobe was a great place to work before I joined BEN, but now it’s 1,000 times better!”
Being able to thrive in this community played a big part of Portia’s experience at Adobe. But the best part? Portia was able to bring her real and personal self to work. “Giving back is a big part of who I am and BEN allows me to bring that same passion to work. Individual efforts do make a difference, but collectively in an organization like BEN, the impact is far greater.”
And this year in celebration of Black History Month, Portia can’t wait to share another part of her personal history with BEN and all of Adobe: her heritage. “With my involvement with BEN, I arranged the Belize International Film Festival to come to Adobe this month.” Portia, who moved to the United States from Belize when she was just 15 years old, is excited to share the richness of her Caribbean culture with her colleagues.
There’s no doubt that BEN fosters a sense of community that connects colleagues from across the company. And this is also the case for Taylor Alarcon, who recently moved to California from Illinois.
When Taylor first joined in August 2017, he relied on BEN to make connections and learn more about the business and people. “For the first month or two I was slowly integrating myself into Adobe. I met people on my floor and worked to understand the business. When I joined BEN, there was a big change in my experience though. I got to meet so many different people and got a holistic view of Adobe as an entity,” Taylor said.
And since joining BEN, Taylor’s not only developed strong friendships, he’s been making a profound difference in the community at large. “I’m proud of the work we do. Taking part in the MLK March last month was amazing, and I got to meet allies and march with them. BEN also recently hosted a group of underrepresented high school seniors, and I got to talk to them about career paths and what they’re passionate about.”
What #AdobeForAll means to them
When asked what the concept of Adobe For All meant to Portia and Taylor, they were candid with their answers.
“To me #AdobeForAll means the company cares. No matter who you are and where you come from, you’re welcome here. You’re valued and Adobe is aware of the obstacles you face and works to address concerns and give you the full Adobe experience,” said Portia.
“Adobe For All means supporting people in their endeavors, no matter their background. Adobe as a company supports all their employees, friends and families—professional or otherwise. But we can always do better, and I’m excited to be a part of BEN to have a platform to build awareness on other issues we’re facing, and make Adobe truly for all,” said Taylor.
Building community is all about feeling a connection with others, and at Adobe, we recognize the importance of building a diverse culture not only in race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and age, but also in background, experience and ideas. And we’re excited about all the work our Employee Networks continue to do towards making this possible.
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