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Last month, for the first time in two years, members of the Autodesk Black Network (ABN) flew to Denver from all over the US for an in-person summit. For this year’s program, our goal was to foster an environment that encourages us torelate to one another’s lived experiences,recharge after a monumental shift in business practices, andreconnectwith the ABN community.
As someone who joined Autodesk earlier this year, I was eager to make the trip to finally connect in person with fellow members of ABN.
The festivities kicked off Juneteenth weekend with a music festival and parade organized by the city of Denver. The parade was a beautiful commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.
We then headed to Autodesk’s Denver office, where we covered a wide range of topics related to Autodesk’s Culture Code. The sessions were tailored to cultivate a safe space for employees to discuss common challenges in the workplace and consider how our values of inclusion, courage, and impact can foster a sense of belonging.
Throughout the week, we had an open dialogue on how to advance in the workplace and garner resources. We also got advice for how to generate more meaningful connections with colleagues. I really valued how the information was easily accessible and adaptable to everyday life.
My personal experience at the summit was empowering and freeing. As a participant in the panel co-hosted with the Pride ERG focused on LGBTQ+ identity and intersectionality, I had the opportunity to experience the power of transparency and openness.
On the panel, we discussed challenges that we face being both queer and Black. Expressing my true self and being met with acceptance was such a powerful and freeing moment. My colleagues were extremely supportive and asked questions on how they can support others who also identify this way.
One of my main takeaways from the summit is how collaboration produces innovation. This feels especially true when relationships are among those of different backgrounds and cultures. Being a part of a large group and feeling valued plays a key role in adding your insight to your team and growing as a unit.
ABN member Thomas Williams flew in from Sacramento for the summit. When reflecting on the experience, he shared, “I learned how to put more ideas into action to assist in furthering my career. The events were remarkably insightful and taught me how to let go of self-doubt and learned to counteract presumed conflicts with clarifying questions.”
Sean Adams from Atlanta also found the summit to be incredibly rewarding. He added, “The idea of having the summit for ABN shows Autodesk’s commitment to their culture and values. Being able to meet so many professionals with similar goals and mindsets was exceptionally empowering. The summit really emphasized how we can accept differences and incorporate everyone’s influences to create an enhanced workspace for all.”
Horace Hall, another attendee from Atlanta, shared a bit more. “The ABN summit was astounding. Knowing that we don’t make up a large percentage in the company, for us to get together and instantly connect was amazing. The energy from everyone was incomparable and for majority of us to meet each other for the first time, it felt like everyone already knew each other. I would love to have them twice a year or even quarterly, but I’m grateful for a place to come together and learn more about inclusivity in the workplace.”
Participating in such an amazing event boosted morale and created an overall sense of belonging. The experience also showed attendees just how much they matter and how their voices could and should be heard among peers and colleagues.
Thanks to the Autodesk Black Network and the Diversity & Belonging team, we were able to come together and enjoy the company of others who face similar challenges as one another. The ABN summit was a fantastic display of how supporting and magnifying the voices of those who are underrepresented in tech can facilitate personal and professional growth in life, at Autodesk, and beyond.
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