Creating an inclusive work environment where employees can thrive and be their authentic selves is part of SAS’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy.

Our Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs) are key to fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. But what exactly do these groups do? Today, meet the Black Initiatives Group (BIG) who empower Black employees by highlighting their talents and contributions and inspiring young Black professionals to pursue careers in STEM. From how it started, to creating community, advocating for young Black talent, birthing what’s now SAS’ favorite Friday call, to its ongoing monumental impact, let’s meet the faces behind the group that is changing the soul of SAS.

“If there wasn’t a BIG, there wouldn’t be an Aaren,” says Aaren Avery, who started out as an intern seeking community with hopes to make SAS more inclusive of HBCU students and is now a Sr. Associate Software Developer and leader in BIG.

Enjoy part one of this three-part series that explores “how it all began” from longstanding SAS employees, to those just starting out, BIG has been instrumental in connecting a community of people who support each other and who are making real change.

We hope you were inspired by BIG’s origin story. But that’s not all! Catch part two of the series next month as the group dives into SAS employees' favorite Friday call: BIG Fridays. Find out why hundreds of listeners tune in each week to listen, learn and grow.

If you're a SAS employee, join the BIG community on Yammer while you wait for part two and get plugged in to receive live updates and better understand BIG’s true overall mission.

Not an employee? No problem. Learn more by visiting our Diversity and Inclusion webpage.

Interested in joining the #saslife? We’re hiring! Explore open roles and learn more.


About Author

Falesha Brodie

Associate Talent Acquisition Specialist


  1. Gerri Furlow on

    This was an absolutely beautiful segment ! Well done Falesha and to the entire SAS team that put this together !
    Thanks to the BIG representatives for sharing the history of the group. BIG builds community and makes SAS stronger
    and more competitive as a company.

  2. Allison Ashley on

    I learnt so much from this conversation, was inspired, and encouraged. Thank you to the pioneers for BIG and everyone who continues to be involved.

  3. Danielle Pavliv on

    Wonderful story, Falesha! I'm truly honored to work alongside these incredible leaders in the SAS Black Initiatives Group. They have truly added so much to the fabric of SAS' culture and changed it for the better. I'm so proud of all they have done - and continue to do! This was a beautifully done video. Can't wait for more!

  4. Biljana Belamaric Wilsey on

    Thoroughly enjoyed watching your interactions in this video! Kudos to all involved for building this culture of empowerment to just be yourself and bring your whole self to work. Can't wait to see what is in store for the next installments and for the BIG future at SAS!

  5. Chris Gergle on

    I love seeing this on our front page at SAS! These people are amazing and I feel honored to be a part of BIG! I learn so much...and have so much more to learn!

  6. Samuel Gamble on

    Excellent video and origin story; big thanks to all involved. I truly feel grateful that your curiosity grew to ambition; and you nurtured it to fruition. I believe you have created something that could very well likely become a blueprint & standard for large corporations. SAS Black Initiatives Group, BIG, I'm excited about our future!

  7. tammy l gagliano on

    Loved learning about how this group began. I am grateful to be a part of the BIG community. It's opened my eyes on the injustice that has been done to the black community and unfortunately continues in today's times. My heart sank listening to this video and hearing that my own peers, who I consider friends as well, were afraid to put their picture as their avatar. 🙁 This world needs more conversations like the ones that happen during the Friday BIG calls. Thank you to my black colleagues and especially to those that have helped lead this effort at SAS.

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