Welcome to a new blog series at Dude Solutions: Diversity at The Dude. With this series, we aim to amplify diverse voices within our company by sharing personal stories, experiences and perspectives, while championing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
For our first Dude in the series, meet Braden Witt, Associate Product Manager for TheWorxHub.
I am Braden Witt, and I work remotely in Massachusetts. My journey to becoming a Dude started a little over a year ago. Before I was a Dude employee, I was a Dude client at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. We implemented TheWorxHubTM, and I became very involved. Fasting forward, I got to join the Dude Solutions TheWorxHub team in October 2019.
Leading up to Dude University 2019, I got asked to be featured in a client success video. Seems normal right? Well, at the time I had pink hair. I reached out to the team and offered to bring a hat. They counter-offered with, “Who cares about your pink hair? Bring it on!” To a queer kid who spent the early part of their life in a Southern Baptist pew, I have always been somewhat afraid in new situations to be fearlessly me. Being able to go from client to Dude was started by a group of Dudes who, without question, let me be me.
I was introduced this committee by a coworker. I’ve worked a lot of places where you join a group or committee for a free lunch and a poster in the lobby occasionally. But from the moment I stepped into my first D&I committee meeting, there was something being discussed, an email going out, something being planned. I love that we continually think about all the things diversity is. It is not always the most obvious thing, but the unobvious thing — a disability, their sexual orientation, a million things that you never know can make someone feel excluded. And the D&I Committee focuses and acts on that to make a safe environment for all.
The D&I Committee is continually encouraging others to do the hard work, research, have difficult conversations, ask questions and listen. We host various educational events and roundtables to promote allyship at the Dude. These are done in large part to give people the tools to have conversations, whether they are uncomfortable and out of one’s scope, they need to be had.
In the D&I Committee and Pride Resource Group, we continually discuss not putting people in boxes or making generalized assumptions — whether that’s in reference to their race, their sexual orientation and preferences, anything. These boxes and assumptions create barriers, which is why we host allyship and informational events. Our hope with these events is to create an inclusive, welcoming culture where a person can be who they are at every level of the company and beyond.
Be very aware of unconscious cultural barriers and biases. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in cultural norms; for example, a group discussing football can make someone culturally unfamiliar feel left out for preferring rugby and not having a favorite team. That’s why I think the unconscious bias trainings and educational events we are doing are so important to the overall culture at The Dude.
As someone who never finished college and has worked in just about every industry possible, my advice is to give yourself permission to be great at something.
Find something you are skilled, or want to be skilled in, and go for it. Invest in that passion or trade and it will take you places.
I would love to give a huge shoutout to everyone using the “Dude proud” spectrum background and banner on their social media and LinkedIn profiles, as well as on Zoom calls. It is one of the simplest ways to show your support, back your coworkers and make everyone feel a little more comfortable.
In gratitude to those who came before us, and to protect those who will come after, the month of June is for the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate our vow to look after one another. In 2020, the responsibility and weight to inform others of the history of the LGBTQ+ community has never been more important. Every one of us, in every place, of every color, culture, gender, sexuality, belief, and ability, deserves to stand fearlessly and authentically in the truth of who they are!
Pride in power.