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Pride Month: Bombas VP Myke Mansberger on What an Inclusive Culture Actually Looks Like

For Pride Month, FN is spotlighting LGBTQIA+ executives, entrepreneurs and designers as part of its ongoing commitment to champion diversity across all areas of the footwear business.

For Bombas VP of People Myke Mansberger, who identifies as gay, company nuances are setting the tone for an inclusive work culture. He cited gender-neutral office bathrooms, an internal employee directory featuring preferred pronouns, and mentioning his “husband” in large meetings that can make all the difference. “I make sure I do that and not just say his name because I want people to realize this is fine, this is normal here,” he said.

With that thinking, creating safe spaces for those that are part of marginalized groups is key, and that can be seen from brand storytelling to representation in leadership. “It’s nice to have a zero tolerance policy in the employee handbook, but it’s something else to feel it and experience it,” Mansberger added. “If you have representation at the leadership level, like in my case, VP or up, then there can be influence. A lot of the times I see great representation at the mid to lower level, but they’re not decision makers. So then you don’t start to see this impact on the overall company strategy.”

At Bombas, employees participate every week in a company All Hands meeting and during specific months, including Pride, they are encouraged to be vulnerable and share intimate stories about their lives and how they may be impacted by the current social climate, for instance.

“It helps paint that picture of what it means to have a certain identity and how everyone within that identity is still their own person,” explained Mansberger. Plus, it maintains that atmosphere where people feel comfortable.

When he first joined Bombas about four years ago, Mansberger also took it upon himself to make a change to the firm’s maternal leave policy by recommending a parental leave policy for all genders instead. “When I saw how easy that was to explain the reasoning and then implement it, I realized how I could fit in here,” he said.

Bombas’ core company values is also setting up the brand for success when it comes to the diversity and inclusion conversation. With one standout: to proceed with compassion.

It’s an intention Mansberger sets on daily basis for himself and his team.

He said, “When we are taking action or working on a case with an employee, we are expected to have the compassion lens, which also includes thinking about the other person’s perspective, what is their lived experience and how does this decision that we’re making going to impact that?”

Overall acceptance has to operate externally as well, said Mansberger. For Pride Month, Bombas launched a collection of socks, tees and a tote bag with LGBTQ+ artists Ohni Leslie and Daniel Quasar and the Bombas design team. Internally, LGBTQ employees from all departments were tapped to weigh in on design as well. And for the campaign, Bombas hired an entirely queer team, including the photographers, producers and models.

bombas, pride, socks, shirt, t-shirts, tote bag, collection, 2021
Bombas Pride collection socks.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Bombas

“I have never felt more like I could be myself at this company,” Mansberger said. “Here, it is priority to make sure that our underrepresented groups are elevated. And that really makes me feel good. It helps me feel proud about the company. It doesn’t feel like somewhere I just work. I feel like I’m part of it.”

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