Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at AspenTech exist to foster community within our workforce as well as in our lives outside of work. Diversity and inclusivity, along with excellence and innovation, are integral to our company's core values. To that end, recently, the AspenTech Black Leadership Forum ERG underwent a rebranding to the Aspen Black Collaborative (ABC). Global leaders for the ABC Nema Gaye and Nerissa Lawford sat down to explain what was behind the decision as well as the ABC’s activities at AspenTech during Black History Month.
Why did the Black Leadership Forum (BLF) rebrand the group to the AspenTech Black Collaborative (ABC)?
It was important for us to have a name that better matched our overall mission. We have been discussing this as a team for a long time. Black Leadership Forum was a great first name to start with and one of our goals is still to inspire colleagues to explore leadership paths. Within AspenTech, we felt that the term leadership did not fully represent the scope of activities that we were doing. We also wanted to make sure that everyone, including allies, felt connected and that they could participate in the ERG. This change symbolizes our steadfast commitment to unity, empowerment and inclusivity.
What are some of your favorite ERG activities/programs/initiatives you’ve participated in over the last 12 months and why?
Outside of our own activities, it’s important for us to support other ERGs and attend their events when possible. One of the last events that was impactful was the SpeakOUT event hosted by the LGBTQ+ ERG. It was very powerful to hear stories from people outside of AspenTech who were willing to share how they came out to their family and friends. It really helped reinforce the message that it is a community effort to create safe spaces and that DE&I efforts do not stop at the corporate level if we really want to have a substantial impact.
How can people benefit from joining an ERG as a member or leader?
Joining an ERG is a great way to network and connect with people from different offices. It is a very rewarding experience. It is also a great way to practice or develop additional skills that are completely transferable to your day-to-day work (i.e. project planning, public speaking, leadership and influence, problem solving etc.).
What activities/programs/initiatives can employees look forward to seeing from the ABC during Black History Month in February?
This year we have decided to highlight black figures in sustainability. This is, as you know, highly connected to AspenTech’s mission and it was important to us. We will be hosting in-person events in different offices on the same date. We will also share articles and fun facts throughout the month.
How has leading an ERG impacted your time at AspenTech?
Leading an ERG has been a great experience so far. It has been rewarding to concentrate on something outside of our main work and exchange with likeminded colleagues. We have also been very lucky to be part of the company’s DEI journey since the inception of the main group in 2020. It has been nice to feel that our voices were heard and that we are continuously making progress towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace.