When Dawn Osbourne decided to lead the Black Employee Network (BEN) in the Adobe United Kingdom offices, she was nervous but excited. Her immediate thoughts were all about making a big impact. But after a few ups and downs, she realized something really important. “I realized it’s actually all about the people. If I didn’t invest in the people, if I didn’t bring people with me, BEN wouldn’t survive” she says. Now, after having led the BEN UK for a little less than 2 years, the employee network has grown exponentially and was just awarded the Best D&I Initiative for Ethnicity by the Inclusive Tech Alliance. We tapped Dawn to talk more about her experience with BEN and what’s next.
Congratulations again on the Best D&I Initiative: Ethnicity award for BEN UK! How does it feel to be awarded?
It feels so amazing! This award is such a testament to the work and passion we all put into building BEN UK. It shows the impact we’re making and the fact that we’re running programs and events that are raising awareness and influencing decisions. It means a lot. When I first started BEN UK, I remember I didn’t want to just rollout a lot of events—I wanted to make sure the events and initiatives were meaningful. This award proves we’re going in the right direction.
What drives your passion for growing BEN UK?
The core reason why I did this was because of my son. I thought, ‘I’ve adopted this little boy, and I want to do the best for him.’ He’s so active and smart already and I want him to have access to every possible opportunity. That’s what led me to bring BEN to Adobe London and Maidenhead. He is my inspiration. That’s what keeps me going above and beyond my daytime job.
Did you think this would be possible when you started the BEN UK network?
I can’t believe it’s been less than two years. In the beginning my mindset was all about the bigger picture—how can we make a change? After trying to do a few things and not working out, I realized it’s actually all about the people. If I didn’t invest in the people, if I didn’t bring people with me, BEN wouldn’t survive. Now we have a really strong team, and we can scale. I can leave other people in charge, trust in them, and have them feel inspired to drive change. At first I used to do everything—I’m such a control freak! But I have more trust in people now to drive projects and stretch themselves. It’s fantastic.
With BEN UK growing and other networks too, what has the cultural shift been like in the office?
All our employee networks are helping each other grow, which is a real testament to the Adobe For All mission. We really raise each other up and empower one another. I now have other employees asking me about setting up their own networks. With all the exposure, I feel like it’s started a movement and it feeds into the culture. We’re getting more networks around the UK offices and they’re all very inclusive too. Not to mention we have over 30 “BEN Friends” who are allies that support us and give us valuable perspectives.
What were some of the BEN events and initiatives you were particularly proud of this year?
There are three standout events that come to mind. First is the networks fair. We had our Adobe & Women, Adobe proud, Adobe BEN, and Create Change team at tables recruiting members. It was a really good way to start the year and we’re doing it again in 2020, and with new networks! It set the momentum.
Then there was the Careers Day we hosted. We had over 50 diverse graduates come to the office and we talked about resume building, career journeys, and more. It was inspiring and we got to build a pipeline of candidates.
Lastly, in collaboration with the Facebook black employee network, we held a movie screening. This was the first time we collaborated with another external network and it was really successful. We all got to network a lot and learn from each other. It was a great partnership.
What’s next for BEN UK in 2020?
There are a couple of things. Collaborations are top of my list. We definitely want to do more partnerships with other companies, and also within our internal teams—especially the sales teams. We’ve learned that customers are proud to work with companies like us—companies that have a diverse community and help bring people up. We’re bringing that into sales conversations now and are seeing success.
Secondly, professional development is massive for me right now. I want to develop the people we have. It’s about leading people to trainings we have at Adobe, and making sure they’re using their learning fund and investing in themselves. I want to up-level the team and help them get where they need to go.
Learn more about our diversity and inclusion initiatives and drop by our website.