It can be nearly impossible to bring your best self to the office if you’re not able to be your true self at work. Out at DISH, one of six employee resource groups at the company, promotes a culture of acceptance throughout the company by hosting both educational events and networking opportunities. 

It all started nearly two years ago when Barry Hoyer, a manager on the corporate finance team, had a conversation about his positive experience with acceptance within his own team and what could be done to ensure everyone at DISH had the same experience. He now serves as one of Out at DISH’s co-presidents along with senior IT manager Tina Spalten. 

He and his team laid the groundwork with HR and organized the group around three pillars: education, equality and community. 

“We wanted to look at how we can support the LGBT community at DISH, but also how can we build a stronger network of allies throughout the company and make sure that people are aware of the issues,” Hoyer says. 

On the equality front, Hoyer and Spalten have a regular audience with DISH CEO Erik Carlson and EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer David Scott to discuss areas in which the company can focus on supporting LGBTQ+ employees. 

And when it came to community, the mission was simple: be visible and let others know that it is OK to show up as your authentic self every day. 

“The more that people feel comfortable to be themselves, the better their time here at DISH is going to be, both from a work quality and output perspective, but also for tenure and feeling valued,” Hoyer says. 

It may be young, but the ERG has already drawn in approximately 500 members across all of DISH. In February, the group organized an LGBTQ community panel at its Englewood headquarters that included DISH executives and three people from community organizations across Denver. 

“They came and spoke with DISH about what it meant to be your authentic self and gave some advice to those that were scared to be their authentic self at work. Plus, how to be a better ally and what does being an ally really mean,” Spalten says. 

Carlson, DISH COO John Swieringa and several other members of the senior leadership team were in attendance to learn themselves and show their support for the community. 
“That really showed that they had genuine interest in understanding what does it mean to learn more about our community and how they can help make sure that DISH is an inclusive and inviting place,” Spalten says. 

The group also held a pride party in June to celebrate DISH’s first time participating in the Denver parade. Smaller events are held monthly to give all members a chance to attend and learn from each other, and Out at DISH has begun partnering with other ERGs within DISH to host shared events. 

Looking ahead to the next year, Hoyer and Spalten are aiming to have more consistent programming throughout the year for Out at DISH members. They also want to double-down on their educational focus. “I think last year was a lot about building the community and now this year’s going to be a little more about engaging the larger DISH audience and the larger community, including allies,” Spalten says.

– Sara Winegardner

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