Life At Square: 3 Employees Candidly Share Their Experience of Inclusion and Black Pride at the Company
Photo Credit: Square

Life At Square: 3 Employees Candidly Share Their Experience of Inclusion and Black Pride at the Company

If you run a business or founded a startup then you are probably familiar with the mobile payment company, Square. The company helps millions of business owners with financial services and also provides a top tier internal employee experience. Black employees at Square are a part of an inclusive and comfortable work environment that allow them to thrive and be authentically themselves. 

With inclusion initiatives, such as their ERGs, the San Francisco-based company is fully transparent about ensuring employees feel valued, recognized and able to succeed in the workplace. Through addressing key needs and virtual community-building activities, each and every person has the space to contribute in unique and meaningful ways everyday, regardless of their race or background.

Want to know more and get a glimpse of the day-in-the-life of an employee at Square? Check out three Black Squares Association members take on what #LifeatSquare is like below.

Photo Credit: Ayo Suber/Ayo Suber

Ayo Suber, UI Engineer on the Design Technology Team

AfroTech: Briefly tell us about your role and your time with Square.

Suber: I am Ayo Suber, a UI Engineer on the Design Technology Team at Square. Our team is responsible for front end work related to marketing, squareup.com, and the web version of our app. I’ve been at Square for two and a half years and have been on a few teams, but because of my background in art and my interest in creative coding, I think Design Technology is a great fit. 

AfroTech: How are you involved with the Black Squares Association at Square? Explain some of its initiatives. 

Suber: I got involved in the leadership of BSA and our Women@ communities pretty much as soon as I joined Square. My coworker was a Women@ lead and I kept bringing ideas to her, so she finally was like why don’t you just join as a lead? I got asked to join BSA’s leadership because I saw a campaign we did in New Orleans (where I’m from) that I felt wasn’t reflective of the Black community there, so I brought it up in our company-wide meeting and that resulted in better reviews of campaigns, and BSA was impressed by the initiative. 

AfroTech: What are some BSA projects or events you’re particularly proud of?

Suber: At Square, each month is dedicated to a particular community. During my first year in BSA we decided on a Black Arts theme. I created a map of all the Bay area Black-owned galleries, along with a companion website highlighting Black artists in the Bay, and we partnered with the African American Arts and Culture Complex.

AfroTech: Why is your work at Square important? How does it connect to the company’s purpose of economic empowerment? 

Suber: The organization I’m in at Square acts like our internal brand and design agency, so our work is focused on connecting our customers and potential customers to our product story and stories of economic empowerment. Because of this, I’ve been able to work on fun projects outside of my scope of work, including an audio story about New Orleans based-artist Brandan ‘B Mike’ Odums. My coworker made a beautiful site to go along with this series with some cool onscroll interactions, so I’m excited to work with a team of such creative engineers.

AfroTech: What’s been your experience with the AfroTech + Square partnerships?

Suber: I’ve been helping recruit for Square at AfroTech events pretty much since I joined. It’s the event everyone looks forward to, and we usually fly in Squares from other offices to help so it’s like a family reunion. I love meeting all the students and young people who are excited about tech and it’s a great place to catch up with my friends in the Black tech community. I’m also the one who does that list of events every year. 

AfroTech: What’s your favorite memory/experience with the culture at Square as a Black employee?

Suber: My favorite memory as a black employee at Square was right before COVID. I put together a BSA brunch where there was no agenda, just a space for all of us to ‘kiki’ and kick it. It was a much needed fellowship, and little did we know it would be the last time we would all be in the same space physically, so I am thankful for that experience.

Photo Credit: Dushane Ramsay/Dushane Ramsay

Dushane Ramsay, Lead of Creative Strategy Team

AfroTech: Briefly tell us about your role and your time with Square.

Ramsay: I lead the Creative Strategy team here at Square. Mostly, that means I work with the marketing and product teams to come up with compelling ways to showcase the value of our products and the meaning of our brand. I spend a lot of time thinking about what our sellers need, and thinking about human ways to communicate how products and brands can answer those needs. A big part of my job is asking a lot of questions, which often means virtual meetings are longer than they’re supposed to be. Can this be my formal apology to my team? 

AfroTech: How are you involved with the Black Squares Association at Square? Explain some of its initiatives. 

Ramsay: I started at Square about six months ago and was excited to join BSA. The community does a great job of providing guidance, opportunities and nuanced advice for new folks, but it’s honestly also just a great opportunity to let your hair down. Even though the group itself is incredibly diverse, there’s a certain common language that everyone speaks, which creates a certain type of comfort. BSA is where you can go to get that little midday joke that will energize you for a strong finish.

AfroTech: What are some BSA projects or events you’re particularly proud of?

Ramsay: I can’t take credit for any of it, but I’m most proud of how consistent the BSA leads are. The lights are never off. There is always useful engagement, opportunities or great conversation happening.  Sometimes it might be a chance to learn about Bitcoin, or opportunities to check in on your mental health with a counselor, or play a chat-based trivia game that gives us the chance to connect with each other.  

AfroTech: Why is your work at Square important? How does it connect to the company’s purpose of economic empowerment? 

Ramsay: I’m here to create impact. As much as we want people to understand the variety of things we build to make business better, we also want people to understand why we’re doing it in the first place. Once people understand and adopt the bigger picture, it’s going to create more possibilities for a lot of people who don’t see enough options in our current economic system. I want Square to be a household brand, maybe not in usage, but that everyone completely understands that there’s a brand that exists to fuel their entrepreneurial ambitions. I honestly believe our brand story can change the world – I’m here for it.

AfroTech: What’s been your experience with the AfroTech + Square partnerships?

Ramsay: I participated in the Tech is Still Hiring virtual recruiting session and really enjoyed it. As a non-technical creative, I’d love to do more of it. I think the term “tech” can sometimes be limiting. It can be easy for people to assume that because what we’re talking about is a technology company, it requires you to be an engineer, or something more technical. I think my perspective shows you that there there are lots of roles within marketing, within communications, within social media, etc that are still available and need to be filled by more Black people. 

AfroTech: What’s your favorite memory/experience with the culture at Square as a Black employee?

Ramsay: This year is obviously a dumpster fire. In response to the violence against Black people, I was appreciative that our CEO (who is not Black) took time to speak directly, and exclusively to the Black community at Square. But he used the time to listen to what we had to say, instead of trying to make us feel better. He took some criticism, accepted open ended questions, and brainstormed new ideas with us. That went a long way for me, and as a new person it clarified a lot about the culture here. It’s transparent, accessible and responsive. I’m also here for that. 

Photo Credit: Monet Spell/Jesse Kirkcaldy-Lash

Monet Spells, Design Director

AfroTech: Briefly tell us about your role and your time with Square.

Spells: I am a Design Director at Square, working with the Commerce Platform team. I spend my days focusing on the core merchant experience to ensure we’re creating and designing features that are scalable and simple for all sellers, while being easy for our internal Square teams to add to. I joined Square in January 2018.

AfroTech: How are you involved with the Black Squares Association at Square? Explain some of its initiatives. 

Spells: The Atlanta BSA chapter started late 2019, which meant I finally saw myself reflected in my office. When I joined Square, the Atlanta office was not particularly diverse and I have enjoyed seeing our diversity numbers increase—precipitated by more disciplines and job profiles coming to Atlanta—and having the opportunity to engage. The most valuable part for me has been having a dedicated space to…be. To put a Rihanna GIF in a Slack channel and say “whew chile” and have someone know exactly what I mean.

AfroTech: What are some BSA projects or events you’re particularly proud of?

Spells: With the recent Black Lives Matters protests and conversations about racism and excessive policing, I am proud of two things: BSA collaborating with Square leadership and Square responding with our stance, and facilitating Q&A sessions with our CEO and company-wide town halls with Square employees. In both of these forums I heard from leadership that my identity mattered. I mean, Juneteenth is now a Square holiday! It was a powerful moment and reaffirmed my excitement to work at Square. 

AfroTech: Why is your work at Square important? How does it connect to the company’s purpose of economic empowerment? 

Spells: Running a business is not simple. My design philosophy is that sellers should be experts in their business, not our software. So, while our sellers are thinking about their cost margins, customer engagement, taxes, paying their employees and keeping the lights on, I don’t want them to then have to think about how to track sales in their point-of-sale system or whether their reports are accurate. My work at Square is important because wherever we can simplify a process, we are giving sellers time back to grow their business and engage in their own economic empowerment. 

AfroTech: What’s been your experience with the AfroTech + Square partnerships?

Spells: I participated in my first AfroTech + Square partnership with the Virtual Panel and subsequent networking session. It was an enriching display of smart people sharing their experiences in order to inspire, support, and communicate “you’re not the only one” to the attendees.

AfroTech: What’s your favorite memory/experience with the culture at Square as a Black employee?

Spells: This might be cheating, but my entire experience at Square is my favorite memory with the culture as a Black employee, because it has shown me all of the ways I am encouraged to bring my whole self to work and the value of using my position to advocate for diversity. When I interviewed at Square, I wondered if I would be one of the first black women in the Atlanta office. I was nervous in exactly the ways anyone with this thought would be, but decided to take a chance and “see what happens”. First, I’ll say that I was surprised to see how committed Square was to reducing bias and increasing diversity as they continued to hire in Atlanta. It confirmed, for me, that having a work culture filled with allies and advocates that are committed to inclusion is a very healthy foundation upon which to build a diverse workplace. Second, as the number of Black employees increased in the office, I noticed a beautiful culture shift that I can only describe as “Square Atlanta has some swag.” For example, walking into the cafeteria and hearing a comparison of female rappers through time, or having coworkers understand how I express myself through cultural GIFs was incredible. Now, in light of COVID, BLM protests, and general craziness, it’s nice to feel that I have other Black employees that understand the ways in which it’s hard to show up and pretend to be unbothered during these times. 

Not only does Square have all of the resources needed for employees to succeed in the workplace, but it also has all the tools you need to run your business. Whether you’re selling online or safely in-person, the company has tools to guarantee you can easily connect with your customers. Want to use Square for your business? Click here to get 30 percent off of Square Reader for contactless chip with code AFROTECH30 while supplies last.

This piece has been brought to you in partnership with Square.