For those of you who are not familiar with Adobe’s Black Employee Network (BEN), their mission is to recruit, retain, and advance diversity at Adobe and in the tech industry by providing awareness of diversity issues, facilitating personal and professional growth, and participating in activities that uplift the local community.
With the start of Black History Month in the United States, I connected with BEN’s newest site leads to hear about their fondest memories and their main goals this year. We also shine a light on how BEN celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the importance of honoring his legacy.
As BEN’s New York site lead, Haleeq Usman, Sr Computer Scientist, Software Development, is also focused on showing the contributions that black individuals bring to our culture. “Many people focus on black athletes, musicians or actors/actresses. But I want to bring awareness to fields outside of that. For example, the first successful open heart surgery on a human being was performed by an African American during an era of racism and discrimination that prohibited African Americans from being admitted into hospitals, and black doctors were denied employment on hospital staff. I’m passionate about teaching people and BEN provides me the platform to do that” said Haleeq.
Not only that, Haleeq is provided the opportunity to recruit diverse talent to Adobe. On his fondest memory with the network, he remembers the time he and other BEN members went to Howard University to host a tech challenge. “I ended up referring one of the PhD students who participated in our hackathon challenge, which was sponsored by Adobe. He interned with the Adobe Sensei team, and he recently joined as a full-time hire. It just felt really rewarding to be a part of that journey.”
With Black History Month just starting, Haleeq and other BEN members are excited to get this year’s festivities started. “We’re planning on hosting a panel of talented leaders in business, photography, contemporary art, and graphics design. We’re also planning on hosting a hackathon in Adobe’s Union Square office later this year. We will continue to work diligently to spread the wonderful history, culture, and contributions our diversity brings into Adobe to make it an innovative and wonderful place to work.”
Having joined Adobe in 2016 as a Computer Scientist on the Creative Cloud Experience team, Horus Alkebu-Lan has been the Seattle BEN site lead since last year. “I was in a similar group in college, and it was really supportive. The last company I worked at didn’t have a black employee network, so when I joined Adobe and found out about BEN, I was excited to join. When they asked me to become a site lead last year, it seemed like a great opportunity and I was curious in taking on an active role in growing the network” said Horus.
When asked why it’s important for people to be a part of BEN, Horus was candid in his answer. “The biggest part is that, for many of us who are minorities, we lack role models in the STEM field. It’s important for us to support each other and become each other’s role models. BEN is also helpful in that it allows us to show our culture to all of Adobe. When we have events, we have a diverse turnout of people and that’s always exciting.”
And luckily having an engaged group at Horus’s BEN events has been a consistent theme. Horus’s fondest memory with BEN was when he hosted his first event and adverted disaster! “It was just after I became the site lead in Seattle. We hosted a movie screening, but every 30 minutes, the room we were in would flip the lights back on and reset the movie! I kept scrambling to start the movie over again, and after the third time, I ushered everyone to a new room. I remember very vividly that no one left the screening. The whole crowd stayed engaged the entire time, and as a new site lead, it made me feel so welcomed and supported at Adobe.”
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day
In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., BEN members across the country participated in marches and volunteer opportunities this year. In San Francisco, BEN Bay Area participated in the MLK Jr Day march, and saw participation from Adobe’s senior leaders, employees and their families, and other network group members.
“I’m so proud to work for a company that constantly provides their employees with opportunities to make an impact. For MLK Day over 40 Adobe employees and their families came together to join 15+ tech companies to march in celebration of MLK and his legacy of justice and community” said Helina Nadew, Technical University Talent Partner.
And in Washington D.C., BEN members from San Jose, San Francisco, and McLean gathered together for a weekend of activism and community service. BEN members, alongside 100,000 people, flooded Pennsylvania Avenue for the Women’s March with the mission to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. After the march, members headed to the MLK memorial to reflect on the purpose of the weekend.
“Adobe brought together a group from all over the country, from all different backgrounds, to honor a man whose vision continues to shape the lives of millions today. Having the opportunity to travel to the nation’s capital, stand in front of MLK’s monument, and read his words of compassion and love for humanity, was a truly humbling experience” said Markeia Brox-Chester, Senior Operations Associate. Visit the Spark Page for a closer look at how our employees celebrated!
Follow #AdobeForAll and see how our employees are making their communities a diverse and inclusive place for all. Visit our Diversity and Inclusion site to learn more about our initiatives. And read more about our employee networks and the employees that breathe life into them: