Picture this: You’ve just graduated from college, and you’re excited about your first day with a fantastic company you met at a recent career fair. Your outfit’s meticulously put together, your energy is high and you’re ready to make your mark. As you enter the building, giving smiles and nods from behind your mask, you’re escorted to the board room where new hire orientation is held. While everyone gets settled, you look to your left and right and notice you’re the only Black person in the room. Immediately, you shift from excitement to wondering the best ways to navigate this space as you move forward in your career.

Unfortunately, this story is all too familiar for people of color entering the workforce. No matter how robust the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives are, being the “only one” removes the sense of belonging even within companies that are doing the work. Representation matters, and the people at Xero aren’t satisfied with the disparity in representation among employers. Xero is a cloud accounting software platform with global reach, and with that reach, it’s taking intentional steps to address the racial gap in the workforce.

Connecting to the Culture

Xero has a people-first culture that recognizes the unique needs of its team members. It offers a customized approach for career development and provides safe spaces for people to show up as their authentic selves. Part of this effort involves directly connecting with the communities represented within the company and listening and responding to the needs of those team members. This is where Xero’s Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) enters the conversation.

Co-founded by a group of Black employees, including Michael Jones and Christian Filus, the Black Xero ERG works to create a clear support pathway for its team members. It’s a critical resource for information about programmatic strengths and opportunities, and it’s just one example of Xero’s commitment to a human-focused culture.

Xero values the humanity of all people by curating a culture of respect, fairness, inclusion and trust. This helps the organization thrive internally and externally. As it continues to do intentional work, the hope is that this culture will continue to be exemplified through efforts to build out its products, services and resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Collaboration Is the Key

A 2018 study by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants found that African Americans only accounted for 4% of new graduates hired into accounting or finance positions. Xero is doing its part to combat this poor level of representation in the industry. Recently, it launched an initiative to partner with the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA).

To rethink diversity, Xero is using the collaboration to amplify itself as a leading cloud accounting software platform and an employer of choice. This partnership also allows Black Xero employees the opportunity to access NABA’s professional development and growth resources.

An exciting moment in the collaboration is Xero’s sponsorship of NABA’s 2021 scholarship program. One of this year’s recipients, Joel Guzman, is a Rutgers University senior who received scholarship funds that Xero contributed to assist in his educational endeavors. After graduation, he will take on a full-time position at UBS as a Global Wealth Management GTP analyst.

Xero’s also teaming up with the Oakland Black Business Fund (OBBF) and the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA). OBBF is a Black-led investment firm based in Oakland, California, offering capital and technical assistance to Black-owned businesses. BBPA is a part of Xero’s international reach in Canada, delivering programs centered around professional and economic development. Each of these partnerships will allow Xero to provide mentoring opportunities to upcoming professionals and access to its cloud accounting software for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Xero understands that fighting racial disparities in corporate America is more than empty rhetoric. It takes intentional work to advocate for historically underrepresented communities. Through its work culture, collaborative efforts and continued dedication to be better, Xero is changing the game and establishing itself as a model for equity.

Visit here to learn more about Xero, its career offerings and its efforts to build a more inclusive society.

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Xero.