Just over four years ago, I packed everything I owned into a car and drove to the Bay Area. I had just accepted my first job in tech, and as someone who grew up in a small rural town, I was equal parts terrified and ecstatic.
It just so happened that my first days on the job were in June, national Pride month, and the company I worked at was celebrating the LGBTQ+ community. I saw rainbows everywhere, on company branded t-shirts, decorations around the office, and all over our blog and social media. It blew me away.
Until that point, I was very used to hiding the fact that I was part of the LGBTQ+ community. Especially in the workplace. It wasn’t until my first job at a tech company that I considered being open about it at work.
Cut to four years later, and I am still in awe of the tech industry’s embracement of the LGBTQ+ community. And, it’s not just words. Companies are donating funds, fighting against discriminatory laws, and providing employee volunteer time to LGBTQ+ organizations.
As Pride month comes to a close, I hope tech companies continue to look for ways to make a positive impact. Right now, it’s a privilege I get to be my full self at work. I look to the day when anyone in the LGBTQ+ community can walk into any job, in any state, in any industry, and be fully and unabashedly themselves. That won’t happen if we only work during the month of June. As wonderful and heartwarming it is to see our flags fly proudly during June, the LGBTQ+ community needs year-round support from companies.
The good news is, beyond supporting Pride month, tech companies are working to make a positive and lasting impact for their LGBTQ+ employees — both at and outside of work. Here are just a few examples of technology companies supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
From enterprise tech companies to mid-small sized startups — each of these companies is helping create permanent change.
How Companies are Stepping Up
Salesforce: Partnering with The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the leading national non-profit organization providing support services to LGBTQ+ youth. Salesforce donates financially, organizes employee volunteering opportunities, promotes the organization through co-branding opportunities, and more.
Invoca: Implicit Bias and the Importance of Terminology Training
This year, we had the privilege of the Pacific Pride Foundation coming to Invoca to present on implicit gender and sexuality biases in the workplace and beyond. Employees were also given terminology training and were taught the importance of using preferred pronouns and identities.
PayPal: Helping Repeal a Discriminatory Law
In 2017, a new bill was introduced by lawmakers that, if passed, would have prevented transgender employees from using the bathroom that matched their gender identity. PayPal stepped in and threatened to stop construction on a facility that was estimated to make the state $2.66 billion. Due to PayPal, and many other businesses’ alliance, the bill was ultimately repealed.
MyVest: Providing Mentorship for LGBTQ+ Employees
As a financial services tech (FinTech) startup, MyVest is committed to breaking the traditionally homogeneous nature of their industry. When a new employee is hired, they are connected with mentorship opportunities from LGBTQ+ employees. The company also factors in diversity and inclusion in their recruitment process — ensuring that it is top of mind from the very first interaction with a candidate.
Thank you to these companies, and others in the tech industry, who are committed to making LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion in the workplace more than just a privilege of the few.
What Can I Do at My Company?
There are many things that companies can start implementing to improve the experience of their LGBTQ+ employees. Showing you are an equal rights workplace does more than just help you hire great talent, it makes you part of the movement to create quality for all — so don’t wait! Which of these things can you implement into your company culture right now?
Set LGBTQ+ Inclusive Policies, and Enforce Them
Does all of your non-discrimination language include sexual and gender identities? If not, that is the first place you can start. If you already have inclusive policies, check-in on your enforcement strategies. Can you provide diversity and inclusion training? Do you survey employees on how safe and supported they feel? Inclusion doesn’t stop with policy. It only works if it becomes essential to the fabric of your culture.
Ensure All of Your Benefits Cover LGBTQ+ Employees
There are nuances to benefits that may leave out your LGBTQ+ employees. Do you provide paid leave time for adoption and surrogacy? What about health insurance coverage for same-sex couples? When a recruiter is speaking with a candidate, they should be able to point out in your benefits package explicit coverage for LGBTQ+ employees.
Provide Gender-Neutral Bathrooms
When Target very publicly rolled out their nation-wide gender-neutral bathrooms in 2016, it was a decision that impacted all businesses. It helped start the conversation around why gender-neutral bathrooms are so important. Do you have a gender-neutral bathroom in your office? If not, you may want to consider connecting with your office manager to see how you can make it happen.
Remember, Something is Always Better Than Nothing
Don’t know where to start? You don’t need to change government policy or donate millions to have a positive impact. Start with just one thing. Ask your local LGBTQ+ non-profit to come in for a lunch-n-learn. Change the language in your paid parental leave to include same-sex couples. Provide an online diversity training course. Show your support and belief in equality one impactful step at a time. Here are a few ways we are fostering diversity and inclusion at Invoca.
As we continue to see companies stepping up to support all employees, I can’t wait to see what the next four years and beyond will bring for the LGBTQ+ community.