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  1. Blog
  2. Partners in Diversity

How Expel’s Treehouse Group Creates a Sense of Belonging for LGBTQ+ Employees

And how it improves employees’ wellbeing

Woman in a green shirt
Photo courtesy of Darlene Alderson

This article is part of InHerSight's Partners in Diversity series. Discover companies partnering with InHerSight to better support women in the workplace.

This article is part of InHerSight's ERG Spotlights series. Curious about how employee resource groups actually make a difference? Delve into real ERGs at companies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Employee resource groups (ERGs) can be integral to helping employees find a sense of community and belonging at an organization, but creating a successful ERG requires clear expectations, meaningful actions, measurable results (aka a change in a company’s benefits, culture, or policies), and feedback from members that they feel seen and heard. We asked our partner companies to share how one of their ERGs is moving the needle for equity at their organization. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at The Treehouse group at Expel, Inc.

The Treehouse Group at Expel

Expel is a computer and network security company that helps companies of all shapes and sizes minimize business risk through managed detection and response (MDR), phishing, and threat hunting. In 2020, The Treehouse ERG was formed by two queer employees who wanted a dedicated space for LGBTQ+ members and their allies. They designed the group to provide education, raise awareness of LGBTQ+ accomplishments and challenges, and encourage Expletives (what Expel employees are called) to be authentic in the workplace.

Expectation: Their goals

1. Internal commitment: Focus on Expel’s LGBTQ+ related policies, make recommendations for improvement, and evaluate the inclusiveness of diversity training programs.

2. Employee education: Provide education, programs, and initiatives for Expletives to participate in and out the workplace to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.

3. Consumer engagement: Engage LGBTQ+ consumers through initiatives such as obtaining a booth at a Pride event, launching a LGBTQ+ inclusive advertising campaign, or engaging in strategic philanthropy with LGBTQ+ organizations.

4. LGBTQ+ employee recruitment: Identify opportunities to recruit LGBTQ+ employees such as attending LGBTQ+ recruiting fairs, working with LGBTQ+ groups at local universities, and engaging in strategic philanthropy with LGBTQ+ organizations.

5. Policy feedback: Document and publish LGBTQ+ initiatives to get public feedback and provide assistance to other organizations looking to create a more inclusive work environment.

6. External commitment: Provide fundraising and sponsorship opportunities to local LGBTQ+ organizations.

Employee insight 

“Our ERG has a smaller group of folks who identify as LGBTQ+ of which I'm a part of, and we meet on a regular cadence. After Roe v. Wade was overturned I experienced a lot of internal turbulence. Thankfully, we had one of our meetings not too long after, and I was able to freely speak about how I was feeling, the concerns I was having, and the fears I was trying to ignore. I left that meeting feeling incredibly relieved because I have a community, which is truly invaluable!” —Ruth Velez, Recruiter

Action: Programming they offer

The Treehouse offers programming aimed to support career and professional development, volunteerism, recommendations to improve policies and benefits that impact the community, as well as cultural events. Some of the programs include drag shows, inclusive leadership training, informational lunch-and-learn sessions about LGBTQ+ experiences, sponsorships and fundraisers for LGBTQ+ organizations, and education and training around proper pronoun usage. 

They've discussed a wide variety of topics, including: 

  • The history and origins of the LGBTQ+ community

  • Anti-trans legislation around the United States

  • The origins and meaningfulness behind the Day of Silence

  • How allies can actively show up for the LGBTQ+ community

  • Pronoun usage and the importance of addressing people how they identify 

  • The difference between the terms "female" and woman"

  • How parents can support their children coming out

  • Transgender visibility

  • The intersection between identifying as LGBTQIA+ and mental health

Employee insight

“The Treehouse has been a place that's felt like home since day one of my time at Expel. I joined the team and immediately felt embraced by the queer community, and the larger Expel community just because this group existed. The comfort of being out and proud at work has made finding ways to be out and proud in the rest of my life more accessible. I'm so proud to be part of this group, and part of Expel.” —Macki Weaver, Manager, Recruiting Operations  

Results: Progress they’ve made

The Treehouse ensures Expel maintains its “Better When Different” commitment and elevates LGBTQIA+ employees as they continue to grow and evolve as an organization. One of their top priorities has been to increase diversity and establish Expel as a welcoming and inclusive place. The Treehouse group supports these goals in two ways: external partnerships and separate Slack channels and meetings for employees who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. 

To help increase the representation among their LGBTQ+ community, The Treehouse partners with organizations like Out in Tech, a nonprofit that seeks to unite the LGBTQ+ tech community. Together, they participate in career fairs and speaking events, and provide opportunities and visibility for LGBTQ+ people in tech.

In order to further develop a sense of belonging for the LGBTQ+ community at Expel, the company also has a Slack subgroup called the Alphabet Mafia that exists solely for employees belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. There, employees can share experiences, advice, and support in a safe space. 

It’s no wonder Expel is one of InHerSight’s 20 Best Companies for Sense of Belonging. Learn more about the company’s support for employees, their ratings, and open jobs here.

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