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All About Affinity

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Hear from our herd about what it’s like to work at one of the most successful U.S. insurtech companies, and best places to work – straight from The Zebra’s mouth! Ready to join? Check out our current job openings.
 

Allow us to introduce ourselves…

Affinity was the second employee resources group (ERG) created at The Zebra. Cofounded by current CPO Martina Hahn and Director of Product Design Marivi Carlton, Affinity’s mission is to provide support, inclusion and opportunities for minorities and allies. Further, we strive to promote awareness, celebrate our differences and nurture avenues for career development for minorities in tech. Whether you’re an immigrant, first-generation and beyond, a person of color, mixed-race or an ally — we’re here to let you know that all are welcome!

All About Affinity - Mother Languages
Below, Martina reflects on how Affinity came to be and the impact this group has had both within and outside The Zebra.

 

Affinity’s origin story

We started Affinity precisely three years ago. I had no idea what an employee resource group was until Shebras was founded in 2018. I was inspired by the work that the Shebras were doing in creating a safe space for women. I’m a woman, but I’m also half Asian and immigrated to the United States from Germany, so I found myself at the intersection of several minority groups. Affinity ERG logo graphic

While I think the Shebras do amazing work, other minorities have different needs and experiences. I thought it was essential to create a space to support those employees. My fellow Zeeb and co-founder, Marivi, felt similarly to me. Marivi is Latine and also immigrated to the United States. Together, we brought our perspective from different cultures and ethnicities and our experience of learning about American culture.

With some initial help from Shebras, Marivi and I decided that it was an excellent opportunity for us to bring our combined experiences and passions together to cofound Affinity. 

Pathways to inclusion

Our intent for Affinity was to create a safe space to support and generate opportunities for minorities and immigrants and to ensure they feel like they are a part of the conversation here at The Zebra. We defined minorities as immigrants, first-generation and beyond, people of color, mixed-race, but also as allies. We think it’s imperative to make sure that people who want to educate themselves or are curious have the means to connect.

We had three original goals when we began: awareness, career development and community. First, we wanted to create awareness of the diversity that exists within our company. We desired a deeper understanding of the different ethnicities, races and cultures our employees represent. We also wanted to focus on career development and how to create opportunities for advancement for marginalized people. We also kept the local community in mind. What can we do to influence and impact the community we live in?

We feel fortunate to work for a company that shares these goals and financially supports the mission of this ERG. As a company, we actively search for individuals with non-traditional pathways into tech and those with varied experiences because we feel that we have a lot to gain from learning from one another. The goals of Affinity align closely with The Zebra’s ‘All Stripes Welcome’ mantra.

 

Connection & fellowship

One of the first exercises we did for Affinity was to purchase a map where people could mark where they were from. It was incredible because there were dots everywhere! It showed us that people don’t identify as a single thing — that it’s ok to identify with multiple ethnicities and cultures. It was amazing to see how multi-cultural our company really is. Affinity Group Photo 2022

Another thing we did was to create awareness through food. We brought in food from different cultures that people might not otherwise be exposed to. We found that sharing cultural significance and understanding over a meal was a great building block. Universally people have to eat; it’s a basic human need and a simple (and delicious) way to connect with people.

Early on, we knew that we wanted to do a panel to elevate minority voices to support our career development goal. It took a while for us to put together a panel in a way that was both beneficial for our Zeebs and sensitive to the panelists. We finally landed on our ‘Minorities in Tech’ panel which is now an Affinity mainstay that’s held bi-annually. This panel is something I’m particularly proud of because it creates a platform for minorities to share their experiences in and outside of work. Every time that I’ve listened to this panel, my eyes have been opened wider and wider to people’s experiences, and it deepens empathy with our colleagues and their different paths in life.

Community impact

Supporting underrepresented communities, immigrants and refugees has been at the heart of Affinity outreach and is always top of mind in planning. This past year, we became a sponsor for _OFCOLOR, an emerging arts alliance dedicated to cultivating a community of creatives and launching inclusive spaces for artists of color to showcase their craft.

We’ve worked with a Latine artist to create amazing, custom artwork for our ERG that doubled as a fundraiser to provide shelter and support services for displaced immigrants right here in Austin. We also supported Affinity members to attend BIPOC festivals and purchase goods from local artisans and vendors. We are always intentional with our budget and are proud of the partnerships we’ve developed.

Members of Affinity have also had the opportunity to volunteer their time as mentors via Huston-Tillotson University’s (HBCU) Ram Mentorship Program. The program pairs HT students with corporate and professional mentors to enrich academic success, career development and holistic growth. We look forward to growing this partnership with our recruitment team and examining paths towards a more diverse hiring pipeline.

From the herd

We asked members: why do you like being a part of Affinity? This is what they said.

“Affinity allows a safe place to share about different cultures, languages, food, experiences, etc. Our diverse differences are what makes our herd such a fun place to be, and Affinity celebrates that.” Haley Scruggs, DEI Recruiting and Sourcing Manager

“Being Indian American is a large part of who I am. However, in previous jobs, it typically wasn't a part of my 'work identity.' Affinity represents a way for me to not only proudly showcase this aspect of my identity but also celebrate that part of me.” Geeta Shukla, Salesforce Platform Manager

“Our Affinity ERG is one of the many reasons I wanted to work for The Zebra. As the daughter of a refugee, it means a lot to work within a community where the immigrant experience is valued and supported. I’m grateful for the passionate, caring, and empathetic colleagues that make up this ERG.” Summer Hasan, Senior Communications Specialist

“Representation matters, and I support Affinity because feeling out of place in your own city and chosen profession is not fair. I want everyone to be able to see examples of people that look like them doing the things they strive for.” Jason Kennedy, VP of Engineering

“I am part of Affinity because I want to keep fostering a diverse, safe space where people feel welcome and proud of who they are so that they can bring their whole selves to work. I believe diversity is a crucial component of successful teams and companies.” Harold Zavarce, Integrations Engineering Manager

“I think it's important to see representation in leadership. I want every candidate we speak with to know that if they join TZ, that they have a legitimate chance to grow into whatever they want to grow into.” Kiel Winters, Manager of Recruiting


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Martina HahnChief Product Officer

Martina Hahn serves as Chief Product Officer of The Zebra, focusing on supporting the company in realizing its vision of simplifying insurance shopping to assist consumers in navigating insurance needs through all phases of life. Her role spans the creation of insight-driven, groundbreaking products to serve consumers' unmet needs and creating the vision and strategy to drive impact, establishing the company's product as a best-in-class insurance advisor.

Before joining The Zebra in 2017 as Vice President of Product, Hahn worked at KAYAK alongside The Zebra's current CEO, Keith Melnick. She champions data-driven decision-making, and the results support it. Hahn's mobile product redesign optimized conversion rate by 70% and increased user engagement by 30%. She is the co-founder of The Zebra's employee resource group Affinity, which serves minorities, people of color, immigrants and first-generation Americans. Hahn is fluent in three languages: English, German and Mandarin.