Welcome to Leaders In Play! We interview people who take having FUN at work very seriously. We know, it seems like a crazy concept, but incorporating Play At Work has been proven to improve employee engagement, creativity, recruitment, retention, and provide countless other benefits that help create healthy company culture. Read on to learn more about our featured leader and their definition of Play, both in and out of the workplace.
Pride Month is here, and we're incredibly proud to feature our own Leader in Play, Desi Carson. At ZogSports, Desi plays a huge role in managing the sales function of our New York office. She's a known problem-solver, who frequently uses her creativity to try new approaches, while improving the sales process through standardization and documentation of sales strategy. Aside from her enviable work ethic, she is an incredible human with endless empathy and caring reflected in her DEI initiatives and infectious positive attitude. When Desi's in the room, she uplifts everyone around her.
We're excited to show you a glimpse of what makes her special, in her own words.
Role: Sales Manager
Two Highlights You’ve Had In Your Current Role:
Building partnerships with several community groups and colleges
Playing a crucial role in developing our first specialized sales team into what it is today.
Describe a normal day in your role.
How many emails can I possibly have gotten overnight? Oh yeah….THAT many. Dialing lots of numbers, cracking jokes while folks crack open their wallets, and working with lots of spreadsheets and CRM materials. At the end of the day, I always try to think about how I could have been more impactful in my day as well.
What does Play At Work mean to you?
Play at work means freedom to me. Everyone’s play looks different, feels different, sounds different, and it’s important that there are spaces available for expression and acceptance for all different types of play. At our most silly, we can also be the most embarrassed. However, if you’re accepted for your unique silliness and praised for sharing it, you’ll feel right at home.
What’s your favorite childhood game and why?
Tetherball. Nothing compares to the epic moment of just arcing it around your opponent over and over again while they watching the string dwindle around the pole.
How do you Play outside of work?
I literally play! I usually play at least three to four sports a season. I try to switch it up but soccer and volleyball are always staples in my fun diet. I also practice Krav Maga three days a week and am a fan of wandering around new neighborhoods on my patented “Adventure Days”! There’s so much to see in this city so I try to hit a new neighborhood at least once a month.
Name the most memorable work/networking event you’ve ever attended and why?
Hands down, the most memorable event was a Professional Women in Soccer event where I had the honor of being on the panel for that night as well. In a room of boss women in the sports industry, I was nervous to speak in front of them but I was met with nothing but acceptance, positivity, and community. It reminded me that the barriers to building communities are only in our minds, and breaking those barriers can be as easy as saying “Hello!”
Name a fun coworker. What makes them a fun person to work with?
I think Kellie Correira is definitely one of the most fun people to work with. She was my one of my first interviews and from that first day, we hit it off instantly! Since then, we’ve developed into fast friends and she brings a light with her wherever she goes! It’s rare to find someone who is so sweet but can also make fun of herself and others with the best of them. If there’s ever a dull moment, the moment she’s involved it becomes exponentially more fun!
If you could have a billboard with anything written on it, what would it say? Why?
“Love each other, love the earth, love yourself.” Although a simple phrase, it is more important than ever to lead with love in every single situation. We deserve love and others deserve love as well—plus we need to heal our planet.
Who or what do you draw playful inspiration from?
I draw playful inspiration from diverse communities—just interacting with people genuinely enjoying each other’s company is one of the best gifts in the world. When someone’s happiness spreads to you, it’s a beautiful thing! In those moments, I always think about how I can recreate that moment of joy for others.
What’s one fun thing you want to do by the end of the year?
I want to have most of my wedding planned out! Far from the traditional, I want my love party with my beautiful fianc-bae to be epic, inclusive, diverse, and insanely love-filled.
What makes it important to celebrate Pride in the workplace?
When we talk about culture, when we talk about people feeling comfortable where they work, when we talk about proactively avoiding discrimination…Pride is merely a representation of the acceptance necessary for all of those things. Too often and for too long, parts of peoples’ identities have had to be covered or hidden to avoid being consciously and subconsciously ostracized by their coworkers. Celebration of Pride and diversity in general shows that a company honors its diverse members. It shows that they will no longer contribute to the years of discrimination that generations have suffered at the hands of blatant bigots and their silent allies.
Pride is an opportunity to show that you will stand strong with anyone in your company, no matter what. That support always creates a better relationship between the individual employees and the company entity because, at the end of the day, we all have a relationship with our jobs and we need to always make sure we are getting what we need from it.
How can coworkers show they're true allies to the LGBTQ+ community?
Allies above all are understanding and empathetic. It is not passive support or just going to a gay bar every now and then. It’s using your privilege to stand up for those that don’t have it. It’s calling out injustice, inappropriate remarks behind people’s backs. Also, proactively celebrating them and their identities! If it’s a company-wide policy to celebrate diversity in the workplace, folks will feel more comfortable sharing about themselves and their testimonies.
If you don’t understand something or don’t know which pronouns to use, just ask. If someone tells you about their identity but didn’t explicitly say it was okay for you share that information to others, don’t out them! Take as much interest in their social lives as you would your non-LGBTQ+ coworkers. Lead with love.
Can you give any examples of times that coworkers have really shown their commitment to LGBTQ+ issues or the community? How important is that?
During one of our huddle meetings after my double engagement (my fiancée and I both proposed to each other), I shared that I really appreciated all of the congratulations and support that everyone showed me when I told them the news. I vaguely mentioned that I appreciated it because not everyone is as welcoming and that makes a difference. I’m not very open about my home life, but about 90% of my family is very homophobic and that was a particularly difficult time for me. Experiencing one of the happiest moments of your life with some of the deepest hate can be difficult, for anyone. After the meeting, one of my coworkers came to me privately and said that it touched him that I was brave enough to not only be myself but to be vulnerable in sharing that it can be very painful to be yourself sometimes.
What are some things that we can do to make sure that LGBTQ+ people feel supported, included, and appreciated in the workplace?
I think I kind of answered these in the above answers! At the end of the day, if you want to make sure that you are supporting/including/appreciating LGBTQ+ folks in the workplace, it starts with doing the right thing both in and out of work. LGBTQ+ people of color lead the charge for our rights for equality and allies were there behind them. Using that metaphor, stand proud and strong with your LGBTQ+ coworkers while making sure they get the love, light, and credit that they deserve!
If you have someone in mind who you would like to see featured, please email Angel at firstname.lastname@example.org.