Embracing diversity and inclusion at HelloFresh with FreshPride

Conversation with Nicole Downing, Co-Chair of FreshPride Berlin

Nicole Downing is a Copywriter for Brand Marketing at HelloFresh International and Co-Chair of FreshPride Berlin. The Employee Resource Group (ERG) is an employee-led initiative for the LGBTQIA+ community at the company. In honor of Pride Month in June, she provides insights into FreshPride Berlin.

FreshPride Berlin Co-Chair Nicole Downing hosting Drag Queen Bingo at the Fresh Campus in Berlin.

Tell us about FreshPride Berlin, when it was founded, and the mission behind the community.

The FreshPride Berlin ERG was officially launched in early 2021. Essentially, we’re a group of volunteers from all over the company who organize events and initiatives to support the queer community at HelloFresh. Our mission is to facilitate recruitment, retention, professional development, and support networks for people of all genders and identities within the company. 

FreshPride Berlin is part of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) efforts by HelloFresh. Why was it important to establish this ERG?

So many reasons! While this isn’t necessarily the case at HelloFresh, many people in the queer community still face discrimination in the workplace, and therefore don’t feel safe bringing their whole selves to work. LGBTQIA+ people are also severely underrepresented in senior leadership roles in companies all over the world. ERGs like FreshPride are important because they help create and sustain a workplace where people in the community feel safe to be themselves and are therefore more likely to grow professionally Ultimately, this benefits everyone because a more diverse workforce brings in unique perspectives that would never have been considered otherwise. It also gives our allies a chance to learn about our community, and implement what they learn in their day-to-day lives. For example,  the LGBTQIA+ Allyship 101 workshop in July will enable employees to learn more about the queer community, the challenges we still face, and practical tips for being a better ally.

What inspired you to join the FreshPride Berlin community? Also, how can employees who are equally inspired by the mission join the association?  

At first, I was just really excited to meet other queer people at work. Before HelloFresh, I’d never been in a work environment where I felt I could be out and proud as a bisexual woman, so the idea of being part of a community with similar lived experiences was very appealing to me. Also at the time, the ERG was just beginning, so I saw an exciting opportunity to make a genuine positive impact right from the start. 

Anyone at HelloFresh who’d like to join the ERG can sign up to become a committee member. One does not have to identify as LGBTQIA+ to join FreshPride – everyone is welcome at our table! 

Can you tell us more about what the role of a FreshPride Berlin committee member entails?

Being a committee member means attending our monthly committee meetings and playing an active role in organizing our events and initiatives. You’ll also be part of a subcommittee – either Social, Development, or Community. Each subcommittee is responsible for different kinds of initiatives and also has its regular meetings.

Members of the FreshPride Berlin Committee who are responsible for organizing diversity-related events at HelloFresh.

At the helm of your tenure as a committee member at FreshPride Berlin, what has been your most rewarding accomplishment?

Just seeing how much our ERG has grown in such a short time has been incredibly rewarding. We started with just a handful of members – today we have 17 committee members and hundreds more in the FreshPride Berlin Slack community. Over the last year, we’ve organized so many cool events and projects and initiated real policy change. And we have heaps more planned for Pride Month!

We’ve also received so much support not just from the LGBTQIA+ community at HelloFresh, but from our allies and senior leaders. Seeing everyone get as excited about Pride as we are, gives me a lot of hope for the future of FreshPride and DE&I at HelloFresh.

HelloFresh Group CFO Christian Gärtner presenting the executive welcoming remarks at Drag Queen Bingo.

One of my highlights as a committee member was a panel discussion we hosted along with the Gender Equality Team ERG, where panelists shared their personal stories as out LGBTQIA+ women at HelloFresh. We also launched our ERG Newsletter, Rainbow Juice, as well as a directory that outlines how employees can change their names on different platforms should their chosen name not match the one of their ID document.

The pandemic brought the world and events to a complete halt. Are there any FreshPride events we can look forward to in the coming year to keep the community engaged and bring employees together?

Of course! We have plenty of exciting, in-person events planned for June and July, including Drag Queen Bingo and the Authentic Leadership Workshop for LGBTQIA+ employees. What’s more, HelloFresh will have its very first truck at CSD, the LGBTQIA+ Pride Festival in Berlin. Employees are invited to join us on board so we can celebrate this important day together as a community. We’ll also host a CSD pre-party at the office the day before the parade, and everyone is welcome to join. We’ll have more events later in the year too.

FreshPride Berlin kicked off Pride Month with Drag Queen Bingo and live drag performances by Nana Schewitz and Gieza Poke.

I also think it’s important to say that while we’ve worked hard to make this happen, it’s only been possible thanks to the support of many other teams and volunteers from around the company. It’s great to know that there is a genuine interest and investment in DE&I initiatives, such as those organized by FreshPride. I hope this is only the start of bigger and better things to come.

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