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Top Insights from Out in Tech Pride

We kicked off Pride month last week with the biggest event in OIT history! The theme was Celebrating ‘Troublemakers’, and we asked some of our favorite LGBTQ+ and allied tech leaders across streaming, retail, fintech, and more some tough questions about how some of the world’s leading tech companies are building diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures and products. From what it means to be a troublemaker to the future of work post-COVID, a lot of great insights were shared during the event, so of course we couldn’t keep it to ourselves. Here are the top insights from Out in Tech Pride! All answers were edited for written context and clarity.

On What it Means to Be a Troublemaker

  • “My definition of troublemaking is really simple: people who are unafraid to speak the truth. That means doing so even in really uncomfortable places, and even in places where harm could be done to us for doing so.” – Bradford Shellhammer, GM/VP, Buyer Experience, eBay
  • “Troublemakers manifest in the ways that they are willing to ask questions, make statements, and stand out in ways that may be unconventional.” – CJ Harvey, VP Product Management, HBO Max
  • “A troublemaker is someone who notices or experiences injustices and takes action towards driving change.” – Jessica Casano-Antonellis, VP of Communications, Disney+ and Hulu
  • “In the John Lewis sense of good trouble, it’s about being able to take a step back and challenging assumptions in society and in ourselves. Troublemaking for me is using the privilege and platforms that I have to be able to give voice and agency to people who don’t, and living and working according to a set of values that can help bend that arc further towards justice. – Edwin Aoki, VP, CTO of Blockchain, Crypto & Digital Currencies, PayPal
  • “When I think about a good troublemaker, I first think about: BE, DO, SAY. Be clear about what you want to be in the world, do it, and then talk about it.” – Scott Uzzell, President & CEO, Converse
  • “Who are you making a difference for? Who are you making trouble for? My definition of a troublemaker surrounds the actions and words that are a true representation and reflection of your values, especially in serving someone else other than yourself.” – Peter Wang, CTO, Buzzfeed
  • “A good troublemaker is one who is not only bringing awareness to a cause and to something that’s really important to help us all have a more equitable life on this planet, but they’re actively engaged with actions. They’re solution building, they’re very open to learning, they’re open to constructive criticism, and they’re on a journey that is rooted in love, self-love, and love for humanity itself.” – Tammarrian Rogers, Inclusion Engineering Director, Snap Inc.

On the Role of Companies in Driving Social Change

  • “In the face of racial and social justice tensions, it is important for leaders at work to step forward and not only create a safe discussion, but also call to action individuals, their products, and communities. We’ve created all of this inequity over the years, it’s systemically a part of our lives. We have to put our attention on the groups that have not had the focus, because that’s the only way that we’ll get to a more equitable society.” – Tammarrian Rogers, Inclusion Engineering Director, Snap Inc.
  • “We need to progress beyond something that’s performative, because the role of companies should be to have impact. I wonder how much anti-LGBT and anti-human rights legislation we would see, if the same companies who brought out their rainbow flags during pride month, actually spent money lobbying against those things at the state and local level. Recognizing the issue is the first step, but then it needs to be accompanied by action.” – CJ Harvey, VP Product Management, HBO Max

On DEI Work in Tech Companies

  • “We can always do better. It’s about being able to make hard choices and back up the talk with action. We have to move past token in the moment activities and really look at the things we can do to change the structure of how we bring diversity, inclusion and belonging to the core of what we do.” – Edwin Aoki, VP, CTO of Blockchain, Crypto & Digital Currencies, PayPal
  • “You can’t solve it all, but the only way you can start is by being uncomfortable and having tough conversations with an open mind.” – Scott Uzzell, President & CEO, Converse
  • “In hiring practices, it’s not just about having an eye towards diversity, but actively seeking out candidates that will bring another perspective to teams and the company as a whole.” – CJ Harvey, VP Product Management, HBO Max
  • “It’s a consistent long-term commitment that permeates all aspects of the company. It needs to be weaved in throughout all company policies, departments, and culture, not just something discussed in hiring practices.” – Peter Wang, CTO, Buzzfeed

On Getting a Sense of a Company’s Attitudes Towards Diversity

  • “Do your research. Find companies whose values align with yours beyond what’s on their landing page. Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are great resources to investigate a company and their work culture.” – Bradford Shellhammer, GM/VP, Buyer Experience, eBay
  • “Ask questions in the interview like, what are the things that this company has done to promote inclusion in the workplace? Tell me about what culture is like for somebody who is a trans or non-binary or out at work. If you get an answer that doesn’t reflect your values, and it isn’t the kind of place where you feel like you belong, you probably don’t want to be there anyway.” – Edwin Aoki, VP, CTO of Blockchain, Crypto & Digital Currencies, PayPal
  • “Use your interview to ask the questions that matter to you. You’re just as much interviewing them as they are you.” – Jessica Casano-Antonellis, VP of Communications, Disney+ and Hulu
  • “Don’t settle! Be your full authentic self, there are companies that want the real you.” – Scott Uzzell, President & CEO, Converse
  • If a company truly has an inclusive culture, they take the time get to know you. When you are in an interview, notice if your interviewer takes the time to ask questions about you to get to know you as a person beyond just your hard skills.” – Peter Wang, CTO, Buzzfeed

On the Future of Work Post-COVID

  • “The pendulum has moved more to the employee, so the nature of what work looks like in the future is going to be different. A best practice is taking a look at what was going really well before the pandemic. How do you keep that? And then what did you learn through the pandemic? Can you add the two together and make work a better place? It’s not about going back to the way things used to be and that’s everything from the work experience to social justice, to how we engage employees, to really having a different social contract with the people we work with.” – Scott Uzzell, President & CEO, Converse
  • “I hope that this empathy and awareness that the pandemic has forced upon us will continue. There were few boundaries over the last year with working from home and I feel like it really forced us all to just have that much more empathy for the people we work with.” – Jessica Casano-Antonellis, VP of Communications, Disney+ and Hulu

Thank you to everyone who attended the event, our amazing panelists, and of course our expert moderator, Shar Jossell! 🏳️‍🌈 #ProudInTech 🏳️‍🌈

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