Black History Month means something different to everyone. For Kendall Simmons, Executive Recruiting Researcher, it means community — not only helping to build the BlackDropboxer family at Dropbox, but supporting and uplifting our surrounding communities as well. She shared with us what issues are currently top of mind for her and how she feels people can make a difference, no matter where they work.
How do you think BlackDropboxers plays a part in increasing diversity and inclusion at Dropbox?
The group helps both members and non-members feel included and heard as part of the community. I’ve been at Dropbox for two and a half years and over that time I’ve seen an evolution. We’ve been trying to make sure that we use the Slack channel to let us know if someone new is here so we can reach out and say hi to them in the hallway. We also did our first offsite and flew in BlackDropboxers from other offices to give us the opportunity to meet each other and have a real solid community building moment. The fact that they let us take two days to just focus on community building was a huge thing! I know a lot of companies aren’t able to or don’t think to dedicate the time. It made me really proud and inspired to work here, knowing that was something that our leadership wanted to prioritize, and that there were folks here who were willing to take the time to plan that as well.
What experiences are you most looking forward to during Black History Month at Dropbox?
On Thursday, we did a spotlight showcasing folks in the community here with beautiful pictures and interactive elements. It took a lot of work from a lot of folks to put it together. This heritage month for us was about us trying to do things differently from before and take a fresh approach. Even the swag we made came out so good! We’re the first ERG month, so we wanted to set the tone for the year.
What topic do you feel is top of mind for you and the black community inside or outside of Dropbox, and why?
I used to be a doula and studied maternal health. The black maternal mortality rate is top of mind for me, and just now it’s also getting a lot of press and more information is being put out. There’s more support around trying to decrease those numbers. So that’s something that I’m always thinking about. Everyone has had a mother; no matter what your relationship with that person is, they’re still the reason you got here, so it’s something that should be important to everyone.
What does sankofa mean to you? What elements of black history do you want to bring into the future?
As a community, we’re at the forefront of a lot of big cultural things, and we want to continue to remind folks of that and continue to be a force of change. I was having a conversation a few days ago with someone about the history of rock music and I was like, did you know that black people came up with that? A lot of these dance fads or fashion trends have roots in the black community, whether or not they get whitewashed and absorbed into popular culture later. I want to make sure that people know that, and bring back all the hard work and innovation from the past and make sure that doesn’t get lost and forgotten.
What’s your favorite piece of Black content from the past, present, or future?
I’m a really big reader, and I love Octavia Butler’s books. “Kindred” was really hard for me, but it was really awesome. I feel like another space in which most folks think black folks aren’t doing work in is sci-fi, especially a black female author. Her books really opened up that world for me and I’ve read so many other black female sci-fi authors since then.
You can learn more about the various ERGs that support team members of all different backgrounds at Dropbox here.