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Pride at Work: Salesforce’s Approach to Workplace Inclusivity With Outforce

By Sasha Semjonova

As Pride Month draws to a close, many of us around the world and in this ecosystem can fondly look back on celebrations of inclusivity, openness, and allyship. 

After getting the amazing opportunity to attend an Outforce event in London with my colleague Andrew, the conversations around what we can do for the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace have been highlighted once again. Although some areas still need work, Salesforce have certainly solidified themselves as a real ally, and it’s a testament to other companies in the tech space.

The Journey to Inclusivity 

It is undeniable that huge measures of progress have been made in the realm of diversity and inclusion in the last decade or so. The formation of the UK’s Equality Act in 2010 spearheaded a revolution of standing up to discrimination. Same-sex marriage continues to become legal in more countries across the globe and protected further, like in the US and most recently Nepal,  and the rights of trans and non-binary people are being fought for harder than ever across the globe.

Perhaps most importantly, the discussions and openness around LGBTQ+ commonly-faced issues have increased tenfold. Thanks to organizations like Just Like Us, more and more people in the community have developed the confidence to be open and proud about who they are and spread that positivity to others who may be struggling.

Fortunately, this has also translated across to the world of work. Many workplaces across the have shifted their attitudes to make sure that LGBTQ+ employees feel welcome and safe at work, with efforts such as mentorship, well-being surveys, charity work, and detailed regulations that ensure fair and appropriate business practices.

JLR, who spoke candidly in their support of Salesforce at the recent Outforce event, are one company that truly understands the importance of supporting their employees and providing positive examples of LGBTQ+ roles at work. 

Claire Parker, the Global Head of Diversity Equity & Inclusion at JLR, stressed the importance of this. “We need more senior mentors and allies […] they create psychological safety.”

“Bro Culture” in the World of Tech

Like with any bold progression, there are always setbacks and obstacles. One of the biggest obstacles in the world of tech in particular is the stubborn phenomenon of “bro culture”.

Now, “bro culture” is not a new issue. Stemming all the way from the introduction of capitalism and the gradual cementing of certain industries as male-dominated, “bro culture” can be described as: “A culture that prioritizes young macho men with obnoxious and toxic behavior above all else.”

Unfortunately, the tech industry has been no stranger to this (perhaps more so than other industries) as fierce competition, particularly amongst men, has accelerated their progression ahead of other groups, and perpetuated toxic behavior – from “harmless banter” to rejections of different lifestyles. While less apparent today, harassment, bullying, and isolation still exist in workplaces. 

One of these groups that often feel the brunt force of these behaviors is the LGBTQ+ community. Dee Sappointed, the author of My Uphill Battle Against Bro Culture as a Queer Woman in Tech, speaks about this in detail, and how even in spite of her perseverance, she found it difficult to tackle the beast that is “bro culture”.

“I felt frustrated and vulnerable. Bro culture and talking about sports are acceptable in tech, but to be your authentic self as a gay woman is not. Here I am again, realizing that there’s no amount of persistence or contribution I can make that will cancel out the sexist culture that is so deeply ingrained in SaaS, Silicon Valley, and tech.”

It’s for people like Dee and countless others that LGBTQ+ support in the workplace is so important.

Lead by Example

It’s evident that there is still work to be done, and I won’t ever pretend that that isn’t the case. However, in times where we might feel disheartened, we should look at companies like Salesforce who are taking the right approach.

After all, Salesforce is a giant in their industry, and they’re very loud (and proud) of the work that they do to support the community.

Salesforce very clearly understands that:

  • Visibility is key. Whether this is done through mentorship, the sharing of personal stories, or even having LGBTQ+ individuals in senior positions, the more that the community becomes visible, the less others in the community who are less confident are likely to feel like outcasts.
  • Education is needed for everyone. Whether you’re part of the community or not, regulated and informative education is needed to ensure that those who identify as LGBTQ+ are treated with the same respect, grace, and understanding as everyone else.
  • Allyship creates safety. Rejecting toxic behaviors in favor of allyship, support, and inclusion, no matter who you are, starts with leadership. This will then roll across the whole company. Without this, all efforts are lost.

And perhaps most importantly, LGBTQ+ support doesn’t stop after Pride Month. Empowering LGBTQ+ employees is a year-round effort, and as a member of the community myself, I was proud to see that Salesforce has that in mind too.

Summary

I’m a big believer in the fact that LGBTQ+ discourse and support should not stop after Pride Month is over, and from a very personal perspective, I’m glad to see that the ecosystem I work in holds those beliefs too.

Of course, there is work to be done – more education is still needed across the board, but everyone can do their own part to help. Look out for each other; support one another, listen, and always strive to be an ally.

The Author

Sasha Semjonova

Sasha is the Video Content Lead at Salesforce Ben.

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