Everyone knows that June is Pride month, right? But...what if I told you that those of us in the LGBTQ+ community are proud 365 days a year?! It's true. July rolls around, and we just keep on celebrating ourselves!
So, here I am in August, ready to share my three biggest takeaways from the Lesbians Who Tech (Not IRL) 2021 Pride Summit that took place virtually this past June. The 8th Annual LWT Pride Summit included 40,000 attendees from 100 countries. 50% of attendees were people of color, and 40% of the 200 speakers were Black or Latinx. In other words: it was huge and delightfully intersectional! You can read more about Lesbians Who Tech & Allies on their site.
You might be asking, "why should I care about what this woman learned at a tech conference?" Isn't that more of a "you had to be there" kind of thing? Fair enough. But the way I see it when thousands of super-smart people come together and share super smart ideas, those ideas need to be spread far and wide, amiright?!
What Is Everyone Talking About in Tech?
1. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (You Can't Have Pride Without DEI)
The number one theme running through every single talk or event was the undeniable importance of DEI in the workplace. In 2021, if DEI is not something your company values and builds on, you're headed for trouble. I'm proud to be a part of the work Airship is doing in regards to DEI (sending me to this conference is part of that work!), and you can read more about what DEI means to us here.
So many speakers talked about the importance of creating spaces where everyone feels safe to be their whole, authentic selves. Why? Most importantly, because it's the right thing to do! But also, when people feel like they can be their authentic selves at work, they are free to bring their unique perspectives to everything they touch, which leads to creativity, innovation, joy, and value. What company doesn't want that kind of workplace environment?
How? The amount of information and resources on DEI is vast so it’s really up to each of us to seek out information and educate ourselves, but here are just a few of the nuggets I heard throughout Summit from various speakers:
- Keep in mind we are all human and always learning! Be kind and helpful with each other!
- Make DEI part of your culture and include it in every area of the business.
- Work with recruitment platforms that help find diverse candidates.
- Make sure your stance on DEI is explicit on your website, social media, and job postings.
- Invest in technology that supports DEI.
- Always think about accessibility in design (check out our great blog post on this).
- Don’t forget about invisible diversity - never assume!
2. Imposter Syndrome and Self Worth
Wait. Everyone else has experienced "imposter syndrome," too? It's not just me? That's right. I heard this issue come up time and again from speakers and attendees. Imposter syndrome is something many of us experience, and it's even more prevalent within underrepresented groups. In some cases, it's a product of a long history of businesses sending messages to certain people that they are less than through things like pay, language, and discriminatory behavior. In other cases, the call is coming from inside the house (us)!
Very often, imposter syndrome boils down to issues of self-worth. Amelia Dunlop from Deloitte Digital gave an excellent talk on how to find worth at work. In it, she talked about the fact that we all want to feel worthy, and often we miss the simple truth that we all have intrinsic worth just by existing. You don't have to say or do anything - you are worthy just because you are alive. She goes on to talk about the importance of being vulnerable at work and connecting with others, but for a lot of us, myself included, embracing our intrinsic worth is a good place to start and a feat all on its own!
Another simple but powerful talk called “How to Take Up Space in Every Meeting You Are In” came from Xinrou Tan at Google. The title alone is a recipe for fighting off imposter syndrome! She shared three easy ways to do this and encouraged us that we all deserve to take up space:
- Always have a perspective - Your voice, diversity, background, and experiences are relevant and they matter so speak up!
- Make it a routine - prepare ahead of time, write notes before the meeting, challenge yourself to ask at least one question when possible.
- Help raise the voices of others - Find ways to elevate the thoughts and ideas of others and celebrate accomplishments.
3. The Importance of Self Care
Sometimes talking about self-care can feel trendy or a little "woo woo'' but honestly, it's legit. We are living through some challenging times, and we have all felt the impact on our mental and physical health. Self-care is more important than ever. When you have the privilege of working at a remote-first company like Airship, you have to be intentional about prioritizing self-care because burnout can happen so easily when people work where they live.
I heard so many people at LWT speak about this, and some even led guided meditations or breathing exercises during their sessions! But my favorite talk came from Lesley Pace at Google during her “Peaceful Productivity in the Pandemic and Beyond“ session. She shared so many helpful ideas on practicing self-care, and I want to share a few here. I have been trying some of these out, and I can tell you from my experience that they have made a big difference in my remote work life!
- Schedule a walk on your work calendar.
- Keep work and rest spaces in your home separate.
- Take play breaks - tap into your inner child. Take time for joy, and don't take yourself too seriously.
- Craft your workspace - make it a place you want to work in!
- Get mindful - meditate, be in nature, move your body.
- Do some breath work - deep breathing is a powerful tool.
- Start your workday with some stretching.
- Journal - it does not have to be long entries- snippets throughout the day are great.
- Hydrate! (this one is mine)
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