The OPEN Spotlight: Bart Brooks on the Importance of Visibility
As Nasdaq continuously strives to advance inclusive growth and prosperity, we spotlight Out Proud Employees of Nasdaq (The OPEN), an employee resource group (ERG) that represents the LGBTQ+ employees, their families and allies. We spoke with Bart Brooks, web producer at Nasdaq, about joining The OPEN and his goals for the network.
What is your role at Nasdaq, and please describe what an average day looks like for you?
I am the Web Producer for Nasdaq.com, and I focus on the News and Insights on the site. We provide news and information for investors looking to make smart decisions with their money, offer insights on what's coming next, and of course, offer a truly fantastic stock quotes experience (check out our Apple quotes page, for example!).
A typical day usually entails me consuming financial media, working with our writers and freelancers, our publisher partners, studying website analytics and user behavior, and thinking about the best way to give our readers the information they're looking for. I edit a lot of articles. I also work with my phenomenal colleagues on the digital team, who have such a broad array of skills, life experiences and backgrounds.
When and why did you decide to join your employee network group?
I joined The OPEN at its inception. As soon as the announcement came out that this group was being formed, I knew I had to join. I wanted to be a part of bringing visibility to the LGBTQ+ community, help create a welcoming environment for others, and get to know other LGBTQ+ employees.
Please tell us about a memorable experience you had at your employee network group.
Our marquee event is our annual Leadership Conference, but honestly, two smaller events stand out to me. The first was being part of a bell ringing ceremony commemorating Pride. It was really fun to be part of that experience. And the other is our group hosted an ice cream social, and I was one of the people who helped scoop ice cream for our fellow employees. It drew a huge crowd. My arm was sore from doing all that scooping but it was really fun seeing the huge turnout. Turns out, people like free ice cream! Who knew?
As an ally of your employee network group, what is one thing you would like to tell others?
LGBTQ+ people don't have just one coming out moment; we have to come out every time we meet someone who will play a significant part in our lives. Every time I tell someone I'm gay, there's a little mental calculation I have to make in terms of how the news will be received by the other person, and how that'll impact our relationship moving forward. Fortunately, it's easier for me than it is for many others, but the coming out experience isn't always easy, and discrimination is still a stark reality (we only have to look at the recent anti-trans laws that have been passed in Texas and Mississippi, for example). In the end, the best thing a person can do to help support the LGBTQ+ community is not to judge us for who they think we should be, but to accept us as who we are, and support us when we speak out.
Why is discussing and advocating for diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace important?
Visibility is so important; when Ellen DeGeneres came out as a lesbian on her eponymous show in 1997, it literally helped changed the way gays and lesbians were viewed in America.
But did you know that the character of Chandler Bing on the TV show "Friends" was originally written as gay? Remember, "Friends" was a mega-hit, a colossal sitcom success in the mid-90s. It was so influential that Jennifer Aniston's character even had a hairstyle named after her ("The Rachel"); as big of a deal as Ellen's coming out was, her show wasn't nearly the cultural juggernaut that "Friends" was. Imagine just how groundbreaking and impactful a positive portrayal of a gay person on a show like that might have been.
But you know what's even more impactful than a TV show character coming out? When someone in your family or circle of friends comes out. It reveals the reality that LGBTQ+ community isn't some nebulous monolith, but that we are real people, and that we are in your lives, and that you've known us all along. That's why DIB discussions are so important, because it humanizes the experience and makes these issues real.
What would you like to achieve at your employee network group?
On a macro scale, to create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ employees at Nasdaq. On a micro scale, I want to meet new people and get to know them.
How can companies better support your employee network group?
Make sure that your LGBTQ+ employees are protected, in writing, from workplace discrimination and that they feel welcomed at your organization. Even having a specially-made Pride t-shirt for employees can go a long way, for example.
Why is celebrating different representations in the workplace important?
I'll refer to my Chandler Bing answer :)
Is there something you would like to highlight regarding your group?
The people who make up the organization are all wonderful and welcoming. I'm also appreciative of how well our senior leadership supports our efforts, which truly makes a big difference in the success of The OPEN.
Is there a current events issue surrounding the group that you would like to share your thoughts on?
We are currently working on our next Leadership Conference, which is set to happen in June. Like last year, it will be virtual this year, but I can't wait for the opportunity for us to be able to safely gather in-person again.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.