In a world where most of our members are the “only” within their industry, community, or family, our events allow us to come together and just be ourselves without the extra effort needed to “cover”, "code switch", or risk being judged.
NETWORKING & FELLOWSHIP
Every industry leader knows the power of networking. As leaders grow in their careers, most of the best opportunities arise from connections previously made. This is why we value the opportunity for our members to network. It is important to meet each other, learn about our interests and talents, and support our short and long term endeavors.
However, for Rolodexers, we do more than just network. We build a unique fellowship. This fellowship is unique, because of the individual and collective experiences our members have. In a world where most of our members are the “only” within their industry, community, or family, our events allow us to come together and just be ourselves without the extra effort need to “cover”, "code switch", or risk being judged. It is in these moments that true fellowship emerges and new connections are made.
At the founding of Rolodex, identifying even just one openly gay black senior executive of a financial services or consulting firm was difficult. There were either very few that were visible or very few that existed. However, there was a new generation of visible mid-level managers and rising young executives emerging, with an even younger generation right behind.
Rolodex was started to create an opportunity for these emerging generations to develop themselves professionally by learning from those, who were not only experts in their respective fields, but were also able to speak to the challenges of thriving in their corporate environments and industries as black LGBTQ+ professionals. Even though our focus has now expanded beyond consulting and finance to include other industries and entrepreneurship, professional development is still a clear differentiator.
While there are several groups that are geared to the needs of black gay men, few have created a facilitated space where it is culturally acceptable and expected that black LGBTQ+ professionals discuss their work experiences. As a result, we have found that until they both joined Rolodex, two members, who previously met several times in other forums, often had no idea what the other did professionally. Once that information was exchanged, the members forged a new connection, which led them to support each other by making new introductions, working together on a common project, or by building a more meaningful relationship.
While most of the pillars are about the development and fellowship of our members, we also see Rolodex as an opportunity to give back to our community through service. Far too often we see how our intersectionality makes it harder for us to be seen and heard. To be a minority within a minority can be a difficult challenge to overcome and often makes it more difficult for others to truly connect with our life’s journey. We often see this manifested within the black LGBT community. Too often, the needs of our youth are ignored within black communities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; and conversely, too often the needs of our youth are ignored within the LGBT community, because they are racial minorities. As a result, the needs of our youth to be seen, heard, mentored, and respected goes unmet.
Through our community service pillar, Rolodex Serves!, we have an opportunity to show our youth that we not only exist as a source of inspiration and success, but that we also care about them. Currently we do this by partnering with various LGBTQ+ youth organizations, where we are able to provide a curriculum of lessons for the youth on topics that generally are not found within a traditional classroom and/or are topics that are specifically relevant to the past, present, and future experiences of our youth.
ARTS & CULTURE
The Arts & Culture pillar gives our membership an opportunity to learn about those within our community that are using their gifts to engage our world and our community. We do this via open and closed events, private tours, and institutional partnerships. We believe that it is important to recognize the vast contributions we have made to societies across the world, and to reclaim our voice and narrative regarding the origin of important works throughout history.
While we often bring try to bring a learning component to this pillar, we also believe it necessary to simply celebrate the wonderfully complex works that are created by the presence of intersectionality through expression. Through these events, our members always come away feeling both enlightened, enriched, and often proud.