DigitalOcean employee resource groups make a splash by donating $100K to charitable organizations

Nicole Jablon

Posted: February 2, 20235 min read

DigitalOcean’s journey toward building an inclusive organization took an enormous step forward when we started Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in 2021. The ERGs were established to support employees drawn together by common interests, shared characteristics, and similar life experiences. Their aim is to encourage ideas, promote a sense of belonging, and enhance the employee experience. Since then, our ERGs have gained significant momentum through social events, speaker panels, volunteering opportunities, and more.

We currently have five ERGs, and hope to continue adding more in the future:

  • Afro Sharks aims to support, amplify, and uplift Black communities through community building, mentorship, communication, and recruiting efforts.
  • Emerging Sharks seeks to connect and support professionals early in their careers.
  • Rainbow DOlphins provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ employees to bring their authentic selves to work, celebrate what makes each of us unique, and continuously learn from predecessors.
  • Shark Tank aims to support and assist our people in uniform as they transition to post-military life, as well as to provide them with opportunities to grow.
  • Women of DO is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and equitable environment for all female-identified employees and allies where they can strengthen their voices, grow their professional development skills, raise awareness of issues affecting the modern woman, inhabit their authentic experience, network, and gather socially.

At DigitalOcean, we believe that our community is bigger than just us. In 2022, our ERGs donated $100,000 to organizations that matter to them and their communities.

Educating Youth and Adults in Technology and Beyond

Three ERGs donated to organizations whose missions are to educate future technology professionals and leaders. Afro Sharks donated to Black Sisters in STEM, The Hidden Genius Project, and the National Society of Black Engineers, which all upskill students in engineering and technology. Afro Sharks also gave back to Tulsa-based organization Urban Coders Guild which strives to educate parents about the opportunities STEM education can offer their children.

As one Afro Shark member described, “This is important to me personally because most people think tech only happens on the East and West coasts or in larger cities, but we have to expand to other areas. It gives students a chance to see that they can have a big impact in the tech industry without moving to the coasts.”

Women of DO contributed to nonprofits that empower women’s education of females including Malala Fund and Foundation to Educate Girls Globally. Emerging Sharks chose to give to Coded by Kids, which focuses on providing young people from underrepresented groups with software development, digital design, computer science, and tech startup-focused entrepreneurship programs.

Not only do our ERGs have overlapping interests, but they also feel strongly about donating to some of the same organizations that are aligned with their ERG goals and missions. Women of DO and Emerging Sharks both gave to Girls Who Code, an organization that prepares girls to thrive and lead in the technology workforce.

One Emerging Sharks member personally connected with this organization, saying, “Girls Who Code was a major contributor to my career. I participated in the Girls Who Code summer program when it was brand new and loved it so much I decided to major in Computer Science in college. I wouldn’t be an engineer without Girls Who Code and I’m so glad we have the opportunity to support them.” In addition, Afro Sharks and Emerging Sharks shared a common interest in helping adults learn technology, and donated to The Last Mile, which prepares incarcerated individuals for successful reentry through business and technology training.

Aiding Ukraine Relief Efforts

Shark Tank donated their funds to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to assist the areas most heavily affected by the conflict in Ukraine. An ERG co-lead stated, “The scars of this and previous wars won’t be fully understood for years to come, but we owe it to ourselves and the survivors to do what we can for those whose lives were impacted, including displaced refugees. To that end, we sought out the most effective aid organizations we could find to ensure every dollar was used wisely.” With an 87% efficiency rating by non-profit watchdog groups, Shark Tank felt that the IRC was a great organization to support to help the 5.9M people in Ukraine who have been displaced and affected by the war.

Uplifting the LGBTQ+ Community

Rainbow DOlphins donated to Lambda Literacy, Sage, Encircle, The Trevor Project, and PFLAG, which all benefit different parts of the LGBTQ+ community. Rainbow DOlphins also gifted funds to organizations supporting gender identity and expression including the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

According to a Rainbow DOlphin ERG co-lead, “As a community, LGBTQ+ people are often very involved civically and socio-politically; we’ve had to be in order to fight for the equality and equity we aren’t always granted.” She continued, “There are so many amazing LGBTQ+ focused organizations out there who are addressing a range of issues such as creating positive representation in media, providing free access to shapewear and binders for transgender people, providing mental health services to prevent suicide, and fighting discriminatory legislation nation-wide.”

Supporting Reproductive Rights

The Women of DO and Rainbow DOlphins ERGs wanted to make an impact on organizations who support reproductive rights. Women of DO made a contribution to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which aims to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access. Rainbow DOlphins contributed to Planned Parenthood, whose mission is to ensure all people have access to the care and resources they need to make informed decisions about their bodies, their lives, and their futures.

Our ERGs continue to have a meaningful impact inside and outside DigitalOcean, and that impact is recognized across the organization. Our Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Sponsor of the Women of DO ERG, Carly Brantz, says, “ERGs are a core way that we live our values. We speak up when we have something to say and listen when others DO and love is at our core.” She continued, “I’ve learned a multitude of lessons from various ERG events over the past few years and always look forward to hearing from my teammates about what makes their cultures and experiences unique. Creating these safe spaces and opportunities for us Sharks to connect on a human level and share what’s impacting us is a critical piece of the culture we’ve built here at DigitalOcean.”


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