Hispanic Heritage Month Conversations: One Employee’s Story of Advocacy

Alley Sawran with her family

Alley Sawran had been at Bright Horizons for more than a decade when the summer of 2020 prompted a fresh eye on her experience as both an employee and a member of the Hispanic Latino community.  

“Before the summer of social justice,” says Alley, Bright Horizons director of strategic client relations, “I paid less attention to things outside my bubble.” But events of that important summer changed everything, guiding Alley to new realizations about her heritage, and encouraging her to fully embrace and advocate for the culture that’s such a big part of her identity. 

Since then, Alley’s become a co-chair of the Bright Horizons Hispanic Latino Employee Advisory Group (EAG), adding her voice to the important work of true representation. 

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we asked Alley about her past and present, what it’s been like to move into an EAG leadership role, and what she hopes to accomplish with the group in the future. 

Lisa: Hi Alley — thanks for sharing with us. 

Alley: Happy to be here. 

Lisa: Tell us a little about your road to the EAG. Why was it so important to you? 

Alley: In the summer of 2020, my nine-year-old son heard about George Floyd’s murder. He had a million questions. I have always been the kind of person who likes to be well researched before I speak. So I started researching and learning and listening. I talked to some of my mentors here at Bright Horizons. And just having those conversations – asking, “What can we do?” – was eye opening. One thing led to another and there was an opening on the Hispanic Latino Employee Advisory Group. I raised my hand to be part of this group in hopes to make a difference. 

Lisa: Do you feel supported in this work? 

Alley: I’ve always found Bright Horizons to be an exceptionally welcoming company. I find it crazy that the CEO walks down the hall and asks about your kids — everyone’s kids. I am also fortunate that I have a VP who is Cuban American so we share some cultural similarities, and who supported my desire to be part of taking action. So I feel supported in the sense that I find the leadership wants to make change and is aware that changes need to happen. But I didn’t feel supported in the sense of turning around and saying I have a lot of Hispanic colleagues.  

Lisa: What would you see as real progress? 

Alley: I don’t know what the percentage is of employees of Latino Hispanic heritage at Bright Horizons at the corporate level (but I imagine it could be higher). I would like to see that increase. 

Lisa: You’ve had a very successful and interesting trajectory at the company. How do you see opening those paths to others? 

Alley: Hunger for success and humility drive me. But I’ve also had access and visibility. I sit right outside of Stephen [Kramer, our CEO’s] office. I see all the leaders, and chat with them approaching them as colleagues. Because of my access (to them) I have been able to build people-to-people relationships. And I thought, maybe that’s what it is — the access to build relationships. Maybe that’s something that our EAG groups can open up. 

Lisa: Do you feel a personal responsibility in this work? 

Alley: I do. I will be the first to admit that I have learned so much. I had prejudices against my own people. Just because I didn’t know. Now, there are little or big things I can do. I can model, for example. I love big hoop earrings. I love them. I never used to wear them to work because I didn’t want people to judge me. But now I wear them. That was an example of me not bringing my whole self to work for a very long time. If I can bring my whole self to work, someone else can, too. If I can become a Hispanic Latina representative in client relations, someone else can, too. If I started out at a child care center and had a growth trajectory, someone else can, too. If I can be a mentor, I would love to do that. 

The Hispanic Latino EAG is one of seven advisory groups bringing employees and leaders together to work toward inclusion across the company, and to ensure that employees are supported and that their voices are heard. Alley says invested colleagues and supportive leadership makes her hopeful for real progress, and she’s proud to be a meaningful part of the conversation. “This is a really proud moment for me,” she says. “Now I feel like I can use my voice to make a difference here at Bright Horizons. I got here by connecting with my peers and having my mentors help me remain in touch with my passions. In joining the Hispanic Latino EAG, I hope I am able to return the favor.”

Alley Sawran with her family
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