Corporate institutions have long approached Pride Month—a time when LGBTQIA+ communities celebrate the freedom to be themselves—as a way to associate their brand as supporters of the movement. Typically this is done by switching the company logo to rainbow colors for 30 days. Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to show support, the issue with this gimmicky approach is problematic only when a company is not doing the internal work to actually benefit and aid the LGBTQIA+ community.
Pride Month is about celebrating the brilliance, perseverance, and history of the LGBTQIA+ community. From the lens of the corporate world, it’s essential that companies use this time to reflect on whether they are actively doing their part, but also to ensure that they are prioritizing their communities at scale—not just during the month of June.
“Twilio chose not to change our corporate logo on social media for Pride this year (and for any other cultural observances moving forward) because we believe highlighting our DEI work on an ongoing basis speaks louder than changing a logo. As we work to continue building with an anti-racist framework in mind, we want to focus on meaningful action throughout the year and expand how we celebrate diversity beyond more than just a month's recognition.” - Tim Schraeder, Senior Social Media Manager at Twilio and Spectrum ERG Board Member (USA)
A changing community
Historically, Pride Month has been celebrated in June to pay homage to the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City's Greenwich Village neighborhood. This movement was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in America—a social and political movement of the late 1960s that urged direct action from participants to counter societal shame of the gay and lesbian community.
Fast forward to 2022, and the LGBTQIA+ community shows no signs of slowing down. For one thing, it's larger and more nuanced. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 7.1% of U.S. adults self-identify as something other than heterosexual. That's up from 5.6% in 2020 and double the percentage from 2012, when Gallup first measured it. In addition, allies feel more inclined to speak up against discrimination, and Pride has become a global celebration and movement.
But there's still work to be done—especially within the walls of the workforce. While diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have infiltrated corporate agendas over the past decade, many LGBTQIA+ employees continue to face discrimination and discomfort in the workplace, especially community members of color.
Research shows that LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals of color are among the most disadvantaged workers in America. Companies strengthening the support for these communities are few and far between, which is why Twilio's continued work within their POC and LGBTQIA+ employee communities is worth recognizing.
How Twilio is building an anti-racist and anti-discrimination community from within
At its core, Twilio strives to foster a culture rooted in DEI and seeks to empower its employees—also known as Twilions—to bring the best and most authentic version of themselves to work.
In 2020, Twilio made a formal commitment to becoming an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory organization through all facets relating to products, people, and resources within the organization. Their goal is simple—to leverage anti-racism as a framework to activate leadership, teams, and individuals and create a more just and equitable world and ecosystem within their own walls. Twilio aims to achieve this by creating a safe working environment that encourages differences, ensuring all employees feel valued and respected, and supporting individuals from all backgrounds, especially those from underrepresented groups.
“I feel proud, free, and empowered to be myself. Our company not only respects diversity but has really clear goals to foster and advocate for it across the organization." - Ruben Reyes, Talent Researcher at Twilio (Colombia)
The technology platform has been prioritizing combatting racism by hosting antiracist workshops and events for employees on all levels across their global branches. The goal of these workshops is to educate folks on how using an antiracist framework can enable them to promote equity for all marginalized groups, including LGBTQIA+ communities. In addition to the myriad of workshops, Twilio offers ERGs program events, team-building activities, and more.
“Twilio hosts safe spaces, monthly lunches, company all-hands meetings, and creates DEI awareness videos about the challenges each member of our community faces, whether they identify as LGBTQIA+ or not. Since the company announced we were leading with an anti-racism framework in 2021, it really forced us to begin to have those tough conversations with everyone to determine how we can become more inclusive.” - Lauren Murray, Social Media & Content Specialist at Twilio (USA)
The customer engagement platform’s antiracist and anti-discrimination approach has been spread across many different focuses of diversity metrics. The most important thing has been to create a safe culture for their diverse employees and ensure they have a sense of belonging.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities to converge in a safe space to have group dialogue and share my feelings/emotions about what is happening in our workplace and world.” - Cortez Armond, Core Strategic Enterprise Account Executive (USA)
Twilio has been working tirelessly to create solutions that prioritize sustaining an equitable workplace by working through a few pivotal strategies:
- Expanding its DEI data to better understand the LGBTQIA+ experience at Twilio, reiterating its "move, not prove" philosophy. Currently, they’ve collected info of LGBTQ+ Twilions in the U.S. for EES, but our roadmap is to eventually open self-ID outside of the U.S. as well.
- Building an antiracist learning for leaders program that educates them on how to build a safe and more equitable work environment.
- Consulting with external DEI partners that focus on LGBTQIA+ populations in order to give their community an experience where they feel safe, heard, and comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.
Finding community and support
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) provide Twilions everywhere with a sense of community and support within the larger organization. And from the earliest days of the company's existence, they have been committed to cultivating inclusive environments for LGBTQIA+ identifying employees.
“This has been the most inclusive experience I’ve had with a company in my short career. A lot of effort is put into making queer folks comfortable working here.” - Riccardo Di Silvio, Software Engineer at Twilio (Colombia)
Spectrum, the ERG dedicated to this community, provides networking programs, mentorship opportunities, leadership development, event support, and much more. Like other ERGs, Spectrum supports Twilio in finding, keeping, and growing diverse talent—essential to the company's mission.
Interested in open roles with us? Check out our current job opportunities here.
This post originally appeared on Jopwell.com and was written by Margot Elise, Content Strategist + DEI Writer