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Celebrating Black History Month: Cultivating intersectionality and uplifting the next generation of diverse leaders in the travel tech industry

Kevin Brown, Senior Project Manager for global non-lodging supply, has almost 30 years of experience in the travel industry under his belt. His extensive experience, paired with his passion for shining a spotlight on internal Business Resource Groups, makes him a well-rounded asset to Expedia Group’s community both locally and globally.

Brown has been working for Orbitz & Expedia Group for more than 15 years, and when he joined, he brought with him more than 14 years of experience working with companies such as United Airlines and Budget Rent a Car.

After accepting his offer as an analyst just hours after his interview, Brown started working with Orbitz for Business on operationalizing their support structure. Brown quickly jumped on the opportunities he saw by working with local teams that had robust operational support to learn from their approach and apply to his specific division. The internal cultural connections developed during this time are ones that Brown maintains to this day.

Early on, Brown understood that workplace connections were at the core of a fulfilling professional career. Orbitz did not have a well-rounded offering of formal Business Resource Groups, so Brown was happy to hear that Expedia Group formally supported minority group development within the company.

“When the acquisition happened,” Brown recalls, “I was really excited to find out that there was a sanctioned, organized set of Business Resource Groups available to all employees.”

This was the start of Brown’s engagement with then-BEEP, the Black Expedia Employee Professional group, which has now recently evolved into BEAM, the Black Expedia Allied Movement. Spearheading a shift in the way the local BRGs work together has been a priority for Brown and the other BRG leaders over the last two years — ensuring that they strategically deliver content to the Chicago employee community.

“Chicago is a beacon in the company and around the world as far as the number of events that we do, the intersectionality that we have between groups, and the impact that we have both internally and externally,” said Brown. “I obviously didn’t do this alone — there are some fantastic leaders who were willing to work together in order to make all of this happen, including the WeWork team. I am very proud to say that I was a part of that.”

Brown argues that BRGs are an essential piece to engaging employees throughout their time at the company. According to Brown, investing in BRGs like BEAM is an investment in employee engagement, retention and education.

“As a corporation, we’re spending money to recruit and retain talent, and that talent will now just walk right out the door if they don’t see themselves being represented in your culture,” Brown stresses. “Business Resource Groups, when leveraged properly, are really great resources to educate everyone in the company about the differences and the concerns of all of our disparate groups.”

Locally, Expedia Group BRG’s are some of the most important voices for the company as they are working directly with members of the community on behalf of Expedia Group in order to engage with an underserved population. When looking to inspire a younger generation, Brown believes it makes sense to have members of these communities drive company outreach. Brown said, “It makes everyone in the community feel better, especially in a diverse community, when they see people that look like them representing your company.”

Over the last year, Brown’s most meaningful push on behalf of BEAM and Expedia Group has been partnering with the Year Up organization. Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education. Students from underserved communities are placed in six months of in-class training, and then have six months of on-the-job training with corporate sponsors like Expedia Group.

“This year, we were able to get Expedia to be a corporate sponsor here in Chicago and bring students into our space to give them the opportunity to grow, learn, and potentially find employment afterwards,” said Brown. “The experience of giving a young adult the opportunity to grow themselves and potentially get into a better-paying situation has just been phenomenal.”

These types of programs have been the most rewarding for Brown to develop as they have been opportunity shifting for the four inaugural students that were involved this year.

With the vision of creating a diverse and intersectional office environment through the development of internal offerings from our Business Resource Groups, Kevin Brown hopes to engage the local employee population to create a shift for all minority communities both in and out of the office.

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