"We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity."
— George Takei
As June comes to a close, Pride festivities worldwide are tapering down. We’ve had a busy Pride month at Connected and we’ve been reflecting on the month as a whole as well as ways to keep the conversations this month has sparked going year-round. Here’s a wrap up of Pride month at Connected:
Love Is Love. Love is loving who we choose to love, love is universal, it’s family, it’s personal. We have Connectors who are proud to be bisexual, gay, an ally, etc.
Pride itself can mean many things: it can mean living and working in a city where everyone is welcome and included, it can mean being proud to have been raised by two moms, and it can mean being truly proud of who you are. Pride is personal and shared all at once.
“Pride is the antithesis of shame. LGBTQI2S+ people have been and continue to be oppressed, but Pride helps us hold space to celebrate our identities as valid.” – Senior Design Researcher, Hilary Hayes
“It’s feeling free to be your most authentic self.” – Senior Design Researcher, Chloe Blanchard and Receptionist, Marinna Breda
“Pride is recognizing the past, present, and future struggles of those seen and unseen LGBTQI2S+ in our society. Always challenge the status quo and don’t complacent; celebrate the heroes who stood up for this community during the struggle while working through love, positivity, and inclusion.” – Product Manager, Zachery Oman
At Connected, having a more diverse & inclusive workplace is core to our values. We’ve taken several initiatives to show our support for the LGBTQI2S+ community outside of just updating our logo to show our support. This month, our #connected-pride Slack channel was abuzz from planning all the activities that would go on at Connected. Our HR tool was updated so employees can choose how they should be addressed.
Since we wanted the month to be more than just rainbow branding and truly celebratory of LGBTQI2S+ culture, we made sure that we created events and activities that would highlight community members as well as give us the chance to educate ourselves further. We held several internal social events for Connected employees such as a rainbow art project that’s currently displayed at our main reception desk and a Pride-themed trivia game with questions like, “When did World Health Organization remove ‘transgender’ from designation as a mental disorder?” Answer: 2019 (the ughs were especially loud after this answer).
We even had the chance to hold a special Lunch & Learn with R.C. Woodmass, a non-binary Product Designer for Crescendo, who taught the differences between gender, sex, gender expression, and sexual and romantic attraction. They explained how it's all on a spectrum and there are as many ways to be a person as there are people in the world!
Every Thursday, our usual lunch roundtable discussions were all centred around Pride with topics like the potential upsides and downsides of Rainbow Capitalism. Finally, our biggest celebration was a meet-up event in collaboration with Venture Out including lightning talks from Stefan Kollenberg, Co-Founder and CMO of Crescendo, Drew Jagdat, Software Dev. Manager at Loopio, and Lenore Ramirez, Brand Designer of Ample Organics, as well as networking for the LGBTQI2S+ tech community.
It’s important for companies to celebrate Pride to encourage their employees to be their full selves at work. Showing support for the LGBTQI2S+ community through changing their logos to a rainbow, putting up flags, or releasing special-edition products is good; however, it shouldn’t end there. Companies should make an effort to direct funding towards hiring and supporting LGBTQI2S+ people and initiatives.
It is important for organizations to use their visibility to create a new normal for both diversity and inclusivity, as well as growing normal work cultures while making their employees feel as safe and happy as possible. At a high level, set KPIs as an organization for diversity and inclusion. Those KPIs should be measured with direct input from people in marginalized groups. Without metrics, it's hard to know that we're making progress and being held accountable. Pride-related flags (not just the rainbow) shouldn’t go back in storage after June is over – embrace the symbols as permanent fixtures in your office.
Here are some additional tips to ensure that celebrating diversity and inclusion isn't just limited to June:
“There are days of recognition for various underrepresented groups all year! September 23rd is Bisexual Awareness Day, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, and there are so many more!” – Hilary Hayes
“Hire diversely, provide a safe space and community, actively avoid bias in workplace situations... All of these things go into making real progress on ensuring that we don’t silo Pride to only June.” – Chloe Blanchard
“Having a team of people that are dedicated to the diversity and inclusion of a company is major. If you ask anyone who tries to find certain conferences, info on policies, etc., they will tell you it is a full-time job!” – Marinna Breda
After a month full of celebration and learning, we’re determined to continue making an impact for both our employees and the LGBTQI2S+ tech community. Pride isn’t exclusively meant for June––it is a way of life that all of our Connectors strive to live by. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for diversity, inclusion, and acceptance...and remember, Love Is Love!