The USA TODAY NETWORK Teams Create Community By Giving Back

USA TODAY NETWORK has always been about building community, both internally and externally. A strong culture of community within the NETWORK reflects the dedication we have to building connections with the communities we work in. Engaging audiences in these communities through innovative storytelling is one way we build these connections, but there’s another way that gives a more personal touch.

Community Service Through Diverse Employee Resource Groups

Building community is such a vital part of who we are as an organization. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) were created to promote diversity and inclusion within USA TODAY NETWORK, allowing our teams to form groups with coworkers that highlight and celebrate our differences. The ERGs are employee-led and serve as a resource for members who wish to create connections with each other and, in turn, with the external communities we serve. Just a few examples of these groups include:

  • Next Gen Forward – Focusing on the millennial workforce.
  • African American Forward – Growing and supporting our African American employee population.
  • Women Forward – Solving issues regarding female advancement.
  • Pride Forward – Advocating for our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and ally employees.

A Look Inside an Employee Resource Group

Sara Schwartz, a senior editor at Studio Gannett, explained more about Women Forward, the ERG she is a member of:

“My involvement in the group initially started because I had a lot of nail polishes that had only been used once or twice. I researched local donation options and found that a nonprofit in D.C. called Thrive DC accepted donations of beauty products so they could host “spa days” for women in need. When I reached out to them, they were super excited, so I thought, ‘Let me see if I can expand on this.’

I mentioned this to my boss, Jeanette Barrett-Stokes, who helped to start the Women Forward ERG. She loved the idea and thought the group could turn it into a bigger donation. So through the ERG, we created a weeklong drive in May for our McLean office. We ended up having nearly 500 items donated in just that one week.”

The outpouring of support through donations from all over the NETWORK not only made Sara feel great about the success of this one drive, but also gave her motivation for future plans:

“The whole scenario was really encouraging. People were bringing in full bottles of shampoo and conditioner and all of these products—it was really awesome to see such a big response.As far as future planned donations, we haven’t settled on anything yet. But our ERG is ramping up and we’ve got a lot of awesome things in the works.”

Why Building a Community Matters

Sara recognizes that the NETWORK’s and all of our team members’ dedication to community service played a major role in the success of her drive, as well as all of our ERGs:

“I think that the NETWORK is in a position to make an impact—they stand behind your service ideas. There are also other community-based programs, for instance, with the Gannett Match program you can take 10 company hours a year and use them for volunteering. If there is a cause that you really believe in, you can get the company to be invested in it as well. It feels cool that the NETWORK is so supportive. It makes you feel good about where you work, knowing there are so many opportunities to get involved.”

Ultimately, when everyone in the NETWORK contributes in some way to connecting with the communities we’re in—whether it be through participating personally in an ERG, donating to one of the causes, or using volunteer hours to make a difference—our community within the NETWORK gets stronger. Sara explains the purpose she has found in it:

“The community aspect at the NETWORK is highlighted by these community service programs. When you’re part of an ERG, you get to network and meet people that you normally wouldn’t get to meet, and put names to faces you see around the building.You are getting to know one another in a different setting. I love that USA TODAY NETWORK has really been encouraging people to join the ERGs and get more involved. It builds our community and, in the end, enhances our work.”

If you’re looking to join a team committed to creating community through giving back, we would love to have you apply to join the USA TODAY NETWORK team today!

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