Creating Space for Support with Modulate Guilds

The People Ops team and I have been working on creating space for Modulators to establish their own Guilds, our version of an Employee Resource Group (ERG). We have been researching and planning the launch of Guilds since January of 2023, and we’re excited to finally bring this initiative to the team!  

You may be thinking, “We’re a small, diverse team — why do we need Guilds now?” We’re proactively launching Guilds to lay a foundation of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging for our growing team. If we wait until it feels like we need it, it’s probably too late.

Why? Because DEIB shouldn’t stop at hiring. 61% of employed U.S. adults say their company has policies that ensure fairness in hiring, pay, or promotions. However, only 33% have a staff member whose role is dedicated to DEIB initiatives and policy and only 26% have employee resource groups based on a shared identity or experience. 

At Modulate, we’ve built DEIB into the foundation of our hiring process and culture. Guilds are just one of the ways we’re offering continued support and representation for our team.

What is a Guild?

Guilds are self-directed groups of employees that share common interests, experiences, or identities. Guilds provide a space for Modulators to gather, address needs, and gain collective support – especially important for certain groups that aren’t necessarily reflected in executive leadership. Many of our initial Guilds are identity based, like our LGBTQIA+ guild. 

Indigo, a co-leader of our lovingly self-titled "Seize the Gay" Guild for LGBTQIA+ folks and allies, said, “For LGBTQIA+ individuals, having a dedicated safer space is vital because those spaces are rare in wider society. We're being actively persecuted across the country with anti-trans and ‘don't say gay’ legislation, rhetoric, and hate crimes. If you want someone to show up at work in a genuine way, you have to let them — and for our community, that requires directed effort.”

Guilds can also be based on shared experiences or passions, like our guild for Boston transplants called the New-to-Boston Guild. Liz, co-leader of the New-to-Boston Guild said, “As the New-to-Boston Guild continues to be developed at Modulate, I hope for it to be a place for folks who’ve lived in the Greater Boston area for any length of time – new to the area or “veterans” – to learn more about their surrounding communities. Our vision is for this to include outings, presentations, and speakers revolving around topics of history, food, arts, service, sports, and so much more.”

According to a McKinsey report, 66% of employees believe that their ERG is effective at fostering a sense of community but for Modulate, Guilds can serve several other purposes, including:

  • Providing community and support for often underrepresented groups in the workforce or industry at large.
  • Attracting and retaining a more diverse team of Modulators. 
  • Collectively shaping our DEIB strategy to meet the evolving needs of our team.

Kirsten, co-leader of the Women’s Guild said, “In the gaming industry, coding industry, and a whole bunch of other industries, there are these ‘secret strategies’ that women employ to keep themselves safe in these environments: buddy systems, fake wedding rings, etc. Obviously, the larger goal is for this to no longer be necessary, but I believe a huge first step is to bring these issues out into the light, to have people acknowledge the reality of the situation, and to understand why a dedicated space like the Women’s Guild is necessary. I believe Modulate has set up an environment in which we can do this collective work, so that's what we’re going to try to do.”

The great thing about Guilds is that they are what members make them. Because they’re completely self-directed, each Guild can function in whatever way feels right to Modulators with support from myself and the People Ops team only when they need it. 

How Might Guilds Differ from a Typical Employee Resource Group?

Over the last year, we’ve researched how other companies use ERGs effectively, but we’ve also chosen to approach Guilds based on our culture so they best support the Modulate team as we grow. 

Guild leaders: ERGs elsewhere often have a senior or executive sponsor. While the intention here is to bake in a direct channel for ERGs to provide feedback to leadership, this didn’t feel like the best fit for Modulate based on our size. Instead, we opted to have a unified communication pathway through Operations to the company – me! At least for now, we feel that's the most effective way to allow the Guilds to flourish.That way, Guilds have total autonomy and members hopefully feel more autonomy and freedom to speak their minds. 

Hands-off support: Along with the People Ops team, I will serve as a support and community management role to the Guilds. In gaming, some community managers are very active on Discord or Reddit, while others take a more behind-the-scenes support role. As a community manager, in both gaming and People Ops, I’ve always preferred the latter approach. I’m here to help Guilds shine – think support-class characters like bards in D&D. 

Guilds for all: Many companies offer ERGs just for identity based groups or just for interest based groups, but we’ve opened our Guilds up to all of the above so everyone can find community around their shared experiences. We’ve also opened the door to Modulators to create or join Guilds centered on allyship.  

The Future of Modulate Guilds

I’m excited to be one small part in the process of creating and supporting Guilds at Modulate. It’s an important step to take as Modulate continues to grow and we find new ways to operationalize our culture and values. We already have a handful of Guilds but, if a Modulator doesn’t see a Guild they’re looking for, I’m always available to help guide the creation process, from planning to drafting an initial Guild charter. The People Ops team and I are ready to support any Modulator who wants to start an initiative or host an event or training around DEIB.