We hosted an employee-led panel on First Generation Professionals. Here’s why we think everyone else should too.

Melanie Naranjo

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Diversity and inclusion efforts: We’re all talking about them. We all know how vital they are to the success of any great company.

So what are we doing to make them a priority?

If ‘as much as humanly possible’ isn’t your immediate response, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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At Insider Inc., we’ve just rolled out our latest D&I initiative — a panel series aimed at:

  • Boosting awareness of the diversity that already exists among our employees

  • Fostering understanding of how unique life experiences impact how we navigate and experience the world

  • Inspiring conversations about what it means to be me, you, him, her, us, them, zir, and xem to make Insider Inc. a more diverse and inclusive place to work

The theme of our first panel was First Generation Professionals (FGPs). FGPs are defined as professionals who are the first in their family to enter the corporate workforce, a distinction that can cause a ripple effect of challenges throughout their careers.

As an FGP myself, I was thrilled by the opportunity to talk about a demographic with nuances that often slip through the cracks of D&I conversations, perhaps because this diverse group cannot be traced back to a single race, nationality, gender, or sexual identity. Instead, FGPs are often linked by socioeconomic status, a topic considered taboo by many.

We put out an open call for Insider Inc. employees who identified as FGPs and who would be willing to discuss their career paths in a public forum. The response was immediate and heartening. People wanted to talk about it. And they were excited that we as a company wanted to talk about it, too.

Six employees from departments across the company spoke candidly about the unique challenges that FGPs face throughout their careers.

FGPs often cannot turn to family members or personal networks for guidance. This lack of support and resources can create a persistent sense of isolation. And this ‘otherness’ can lead to the belief that their work is never good enough — that they are never good enough. As a result, they end up feeling like they need to work twice as hard as their non-FGP counterparts to achieve the same level of success.

The panelists talked through a range of topics — from the basics of interviewing all the way to career building and negotiating for a raise.

At the end of the panel, we surveyed the attendees. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. 92% of participants classified the panel as “very insightful.”

Here’s why we think it was so successful:

  • The format allowed employees to learn directly from each other. No complicated statistics or vague arguments — just an open conversation between peers using real life examples and experiences.

  • The moderator was a fellow FGP. This ensured that the questions and topics were navigated with a heightened sense of awareness, sensitivity, and respect.

  • The session framework empowered employees to speak for themselves. They had a voice and a platform to gain the professional recognition they deserve.

  • The public forum encouraged others to speak up, ask questions, and continue the conversation. It also may make other employees dealing with similar issues feel less isolated while also providing them with a new set of peer resources.

  • The panel takeaways will help supervisors manage their teams with greater awareness and improved strategy.

One successful panel doesn’t mean we’ve solved all our D&I challenges. D&I needs to remain a top priority no matter where on the spectrum of “success” we see ourselves if we want to remain a safe, productive, and overall great place to work.

We’re going to continue to implement and assess D&I efforts at Insider Inc. while fine tuning what we already have in place.

And we hope you will too.


Learn more about our culture and our latest career opportunities here.