Allow us to introduce ourselves…
Dazzle is an employee resources group that serves LGBTQIA+ employees and allies here at The Zebra. We aim to create a safe and inclusive space for all our members, whether they’re allies or identify as a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our goal is to embrace, advocate and empower this marginalized community and let members celebrate their authentic selves.
Did you know that a herd of Zebras is called a dazzle? The name refers to the optical effect created by a group of running zebras. The name is symbolic of our ERG origin story that began at the 2019 Austin Pride Parade.
Dazzle’s origin story is a personal one. One of the founders of The Zebra, who is openly gay, wanted to create a space for the LGBT community here. With the help of an incredible colleague and myself, we organized our first appearance at the Austin Pride Parade: our way of coming out as an ally to the community.
At the time, The Zebra had about 150 employees and it was all hands on deck to plan the event and put the puzzle pieces in place. Despite our small workforce, we had an incredible turnout for the parade. And the momentum of pride didn’t stop with this inaugural event. We continued to meet every month for workshops that shaped the foundation of our ERG’s mission and goals.
On a personal note, the origins of Dazzle became the origin story of my own exploration of my sexuality. During these early conversations with my colleagues, I started to dig deeper into my own identity as a bisexual woman in a heterosexual relationship. I would love for others to feel empowered to do the same introspection. This passion is what really drives my continued support and leadership of this incredible ERG.
Pathways to inclusion
I’m proud of Dazzle's impact on our inclusive work culture and the company’s reception of our pronoun initiative. We encouraged everyone to put their pronouns in Slack and email signatures to normalize this choice. We also created flag icons representing different sexualities and gender identifications to share internally.
In addition, we also rolled out an LGBT 101 educational seminar, a recurring event where Zeebs can be vulnerable and ask questions about the LGBT space. The evolution of our LGBT 101 sessions were a significant development in supporting our ERG initiatives when in-person events (like the Pride Parade) were no longer an option due to COVID-19. We were all craving connection during this time. Faced with this new at-home reality, employees wanted to be seen and heard more than ever before. Enabling outlets like our LGBT 101 seminars was crucial in keeping our ERG alive.
Seeing Zeebs take what they learned during these sessions and implement their learnings set a powerful precedent for our company culture.
Connection & fellowship
Our group is always looking for new ways to celebrate our diversity and come together and connect. One of the events Dazzle put on this year was Virtual Pride Trivia with "Get It Gals", a local women-owned business. That was incredibly fun and educational. We also hosted a Black HIV Awareness Day panel and sponsored book clubs featuring marginalized authors this past year.
I have to mention our LGBT 101s again here. This programming is incredibly impactful and changes every session based on who’s attending. We limit these workshops to 10 people to allow space for people to be heard and have the opportunity to be vulnerable. In the workshop, we discuss vocabulary, understanding that vocabulary, how we receive information and initial impressions.
We also educate participants on the LGBT umbrella and subcategories that fit underneath this umbrella. But my favorite part of the workshop is “The Genderbread Person” exercise, where we break down the different components that make up a person (i.e. gender identity, expression, sex and orientation) and talk about how fluid they really are.
This past year we were thrilled to join the LGBT Chamber of Commerce here in Austin. We also have been fortunate enough to partner with local nonprofit organizations like the Transgender Education Network of Texas, Equality Texas and Out Youth to support their fundraising efforts or bring in speakers to educate and empower our members.
We understand that our members aren’t necessarily part of this ERG because they want to explore their sexuality — that’s just a part of it. Members really care about the greater issues that the LGBT community faces and how we can support and bring awareness to these causes. I feel lucky to be part of a company that allows us to financially support these non-profit organizations and our Dazzle initiatives.
From the herd. We asked members: why do you like being a part of Dazzle? This is what they said.
"I chose to be a part of Dazzle because I really want to make an impact on our LGBTQIA+ community at The Zebra. I've gone through struggles in the past with my own sexuality and want to use that experience to help others. Also, it helps me personally by building up my confidence and gives me the opportunity to share my voice with others. I'm really excited to see what Dazzle does next!" - Alex Pannier, Solutions Desk Analyst
"I joined Dazzle/The Zebra right as I was experiencing a coming out of sorts with my identity. The Zebra normalized not only pronoun usage but also had all the different flag emojis in slack representing each sexual identity. I immediately felt seen and represented in a way that I had never felt at other companies. Dazzle's efforts made me more confident in who I am, & created a safe space for me to show up to work as my true self." - Haley Scruggs, Recruiting Manager
"It's nice to have an LGBT+ safe place in the workplace to stay in touch and stay current on events that can personally affect queer people and families." - Tawnie Garza, Sales
"As an ally of Dazzle, I choose to be a part of the group to learn the challenges this group faces. I want to learn how to support the group both professionally and personally." - Jonathan Morgan, Software Development Engineer