Beyond Pride: The fight against tech’s brogrammer culture


I was 4 when I started playing what I used to think of as “the game”. It was time to get ready for school, and as I approached a dress box, my teacher grabbed me by the shoulders. Right to my face, he exhorted: “That’s the girls’ box—the boys’ stuff is over there.”

I was taken aback; I didn’t understand what I did wrong. But I remember thinking: “Oh! There are rules to how we live together in the world. At the same time, I began to conform to the parameter of the game by which many of us operate: the game that gives us unwritten codes of what is acceptable and how to behave – at school, at work or in society at large.

The sport meant that I spent years decrying my “homosexuality,” even after I came out in my 20s, and the impulse was particularly intense in the early stages of my career. With each new meeting or business deal, I was constantly foreboding about which parts of me were “OK” or what people could get away with. How gay was too much?

In some ways, endemic”brogrammerCulture in tech – the industry I call home – is no big surprise to me. When everyone is busy filtering out their core identities, sanding the edges to fit the collective mould, it is inevitable that minority voices will be pushed out. Take this picture to its natural conclusion and Silicon Valley – home of bold disruptors, the armada of innovation – is reduced to a narrow few.

With Pride Month coming to an end, it is my greatest hope that we can harness its special kind of open-minded energy to activate deeper change.

In many ways, Pride Month and the festivities we have just witnessed are antitheses to this hegemony. Pride, with its rainbow symbolism, is all that is free, true and uninhibited. With Pride Month coming to an end, it is my greatest hope that we can harness its special kind of open-minded energy to activate deeper change.

Show for your team first

I really like Pride and the sartorial action that goes with it, but there’s no denying that some brands are entering the field of window dressing. “Protestant Activism,” Whereby companies raise the pride flag for marketing purposes without necessarily making tangible changes in their own backyard, is on the rise. Similarly, there are businesses that speak of pride with one side of their mouth, while backing politicians from the back. anti-transgender law on the other.

If you are a leader who is truly committed to diversity in the workplace, it is because you first look within yourself to help your team. How can you create a culture where employees can be present in the fullness of themselves – regardless of gender, race, sexuality or even casual things like clothing or taste in music?

According to a 2019 study Yale School of Public HealthAn estimated 83% of those who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual keep their sexuality hidden from all or most people in their lives.

This barrier is heightened in the workplace, where it is woven into the fabric of myriad discriminatory practices that are particularly prominent in technology. approximately 40% of LGBTQ tech workers The survey, conducted by anonymous workplace chat app Blind, said they have seen gay discrimination and harassment at work.

Annual Diversity Report show that Big Tech companies employ far fewer women and underrepresented minorities than other industries. It’s a field that regularly labels people from non-majority culture groups as “hiring diversity,” shunning discrimination in everything from pay to promotions — as under the hashtag Told by thousands of personal experiences shared. #SiliconValleySoWhite. the same industry Working hard to marginalize women, says Bloomberg Technology anchor Emily Chang, whose book, “brotopia,” lifts the lid on Silicon Valley’s culture of masculinity.

These are not easy issues to solve, but I believe there is an important part of authenticity in the solution. It’s about spending time on the game I used to play. When I finally learned that I could show up at work happily and not worry about how people judge me, the freedom was so sweet that I could practically taste it. For years without fully realizing it — in a draining, relentless loop — I was able to become the person and CEO I wanted to be. The more familiar I became with California’s tech scene, and the further up the ladder I went up, the more confident I became in myself.

However, you shouldn’t wait until you run a company to be allowed to express your full self. As research shows, the price paid for not doing so extends far beyond individual liberty alone. While we have stepped up in recent years with important conversations about diversity, the world we operate in is still very, very one-dimensional. It’s full of people who aren’t able or willing to reveal the real, high-def version of who they are.

Hearing power and shared vulnerability

If we, as tech leaders, are unable to roll up our sleeves and dig deep into the issue of authenticity, we have little hope of tricking it. The “Brogrammer” Attitude This all seems very pervasive in our industry.

Not only does this kind of climate create untold fear, fatigue and anxiety, it affects the bottom line as well. The research is clear on the fact that happy employees are more productive, whereas companies with more diverse management teams have more Profitability, creativity and problem solving ability. The freedom to be your authentic self at work is a means to success and fulfillment.

So, how can tech CEOs and management get into this space? In my mind, a two-pronged approach is called for. First, efforts to exploit authentic expression have to be implemented in the form of policies. Leaders should give their teams direct responsibility for helping employees get to work more fully. Help hold your people accountable for the internal effort that allows all voices in your organization to be heard.

In the case of Gamgam, this includes the formation of a STRIDE (Seeking Talent Representation Inclusion Diversity and Equity) council. Composed of employees from all divisions, locations and seniority levels across the company, council members make concrete recommendations to improve diversity and inclusivity at the company as part of their daily roles in paid roles.

unconscious bias training Empowering authentic expression in the workplace is also important. If I hit the street in shiny shorts and a crop top, everyone around me would have some kind of reaction to my chosen outfit—whether they admit it or not. Creating awareness of such subconscious decisions is the first step in controlling them, and building an understanding of how bias inevitably affects decision making at work.

Second, the quest for business authenticity lies in the CEO and senior management and their ability to lead by example. i think today cancel culture Leaders are hypersensitive about the need to keep it together, to toe with their behavior, to be professional and not to make mistakes.

Professionalism has its time and place, but I’ve always made it a point to be as open as possible as a CEO — to shed light on every element of my personality, even those aspects of my personality. Also what others may judge or find less desirable. My determination to do so comes directly from the hidden identity I struggled with. The fear I felt when I was gay is now the fuel to show my true self. By doing this, I aim to allow those around me to do the same.

No one really wants their tech company to create a bro culture where only one type of person can thrive. But just saying that is not enough. you have to start show That it’s okay to be different, showing up in every shade of grey. For example, I have a penchant for flamboyant fashion, so I don’t think twice about attending a Zoom meeting in a baby blue fedora. That’s how I express myself as a CEO.

There is an element of fear involved in looking like this, and I think it’s important to be open about that as well. As CEOs, we must share our weaknesses, our struggles with identity, the secret parts of ourselves that we are tempted to keep masked. This includes owning up to failures – CEOs are only human, and humanity must be put on a pedestal if authenticity is the goal.

People need to feel that their weaknesses are heard without judgment. Whether they’re in an interview or taking on a new project, one of my favorite questions to ask employees is, “What are you afraid of?”

We all have fears, and by answering that question, you can reach out to someone’s weak side. They may have a fear of failing, making the wrong decision, or disturbing the apple cart in some way. Harnessing that feeling is a great way for people to allow themselves to be whole.

A turning point for tech

Pride Month is part of a wider narrative around acceptance and the freedom to be. Companies jumping on the rainbow bandwagon without living those values ​​to the fullest They are not only hypocrites – they are harming themselves too. Pride is not a revenue opportunity, and even if it were, brands that send messages without substance are missing a trick.

Beneath the LGBTQ+ Pride Gift Wrap are a thousand work environments that are in urgent need of the values ​​the Pride movement has embraced. Making those values ​​a part of a living, breathing daily work life is no small feat. But allowing people to know who they “should” be at work is an important starting point for a change that is long overdue.

I know the shame of hiding my true self, so I do everything possible to avoid that experience for others. Nowadays, I show myself at work more than I dared in my younger years. In this one small task, I challenge my co-workers to follow suit. It is only when, together, we begin the quest to discover what authenticity appears in business that the endless play-offs can stop – and the real work gets underway.

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