Life at Toast Blog

Learning to Lead with Humility

Toast Careers

“Being an ally is recognizing those aspects that make up the people who are different from you, and not only embracing and celebrating them, but trying to understand and learn about them, too,” Brian J., Senior Manager, Restaurant Success, shared. “As an ally, I'll advocate if I need to. I'm happy to be an ear or a sounding board, if that's what I can be. If there's action I can do and can drive, I want to do that.”

Brian recently attended a conference hosted by one of Toast’s diversity, equity, and inclusion partners, Out & Equal. Out & Equal is a global nonprofit focused on LGBTQIA+ workplace equality. They host an annual conference, where members of the community and their allies can come together to discuss challenges in the workplace, share advice for fostering an inclusive environment, and much more. 



At Toast, Brian leads a team of eight Restaurant Success Managers who serve our customers in the Southeast United States. In his role, he is focused on not only empowering our customers, but also helping his team thrive. He learned about Out & Equal after one of his team members expressed interest in attending.

Reflecting on this conversation, Brian was grateful that his team member felt comfortable coming to him, and realized how important it is to always encourage his team to be themselves. Brian decided that in order to continue fostering an inclusive environment on his team, his first step was learning more about what he didn’t know.

“It's my greatest fear as a manager: that you have a team member who feels like they can't connect with you, or they can't be the person they actually are with you,” he said. “That they just have to present the surface version of themselves -  ‘Hi! This is professional, Brian’ - and you will never get to know everything else that makes up the person.” 

After confirming with his team member that they would be comfortable with him tagging along, Brian reached out to Toast’s DEI team about attending the conference as a manager and an ally.

In October, he spent three days in Las Vegas, listening, learning, and having conversations with Toasters and others who are working for LGBTQIA+ equality in the workplace. Through attending the conference, he was able to connect with Toasters from across the business, and learn key takeaways that he could share with others. 




“Attending the conference was so impactful for me as far as education and feeling closer to Toast, building stronger relations with Toasters, and understanding how I can be a better manager at Toast. I also see how these topics can impact our customer culture,” he said.

Brian learned a lot at the conference, and has been able to bring many of those lessons back to Toast. Now, Brian introduces himself with pronouns while meeting others, and he joined Multigrain, our LGBTQIA+ Toast Community, to continue learning more about how he can grow his allyship. He is more aware of current affairs that affect the LGBTQIA+ community, and has a deeper understanding of the ways these factors impact how someone shows up at work. 

“Using the wrong pronoun for somebody invalidates who they are at their core,” he said. “Making the effort to properly acknowledge people means a lot. It's a sign of respect to your coworkers, your customers, or anyone you’re interacting with, and I want to be as mindful of that as I possibly can.”

Although Brian leads a team, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be a manager to work toward creating an inclusive environment at Toast. We can all show up for others in many ways, such as inviting different identities to meetings, advocating for others and amplifying their voices, or setting up coffee chats to bridge gaps and make new connections. You may realize there is more in common between you than you initially thought! 


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