I love Pride month. I usually only notice it’s that time of the year again once I am flooded by LGBTIQ+ flags all over social media and wherever. Here’s the catch though: although beautiful, Pride flags tell us very little about how companies or workplaces actually behave towards their LGBTIQ+ communities and their workers. Maybe that’s why I never made much of it at work. In fact, as I was writing up a candid, matter of fact reflection on what we believe is the right way to walk the talk at Tymeshift, I found a silly video that I need to share.
Okay, now that I got that out of the way, I believe you know where I am heading.
As a People Ops Manager who is also a lesbian, thoughts like this are with me from January to December. This month, we’ve been reflecting that although we do not have a bigger structure in place yet — think a Diversity manager — it is not a coincidence that so many of us at Tymeshift belong to the queer community.
What is beyond a pride flag on your company logo? What should companies be doing beyond, outside of that? Most importantly for me, how are we at Tymeshift de facto ensuring diversity, inclusion, and equal treatment while we are still just starting our People strategy?
First things first: hiring
Put it simply: if you want to see more LGBTIQ+ people in your team, hire more LGBTIQ+ people. That is really how it goes. Fostering authenticity and diversity has to be at the core of who you are. It is not something you just think about, but something that comes through naturally, because it is who you are. Case in point: if you’ve met her, you know that Elisa Reggiardo always casually mentions her amazing wife and their really smart kiddo. It’s no different when she is interviewing candidates. We’ve witnessed that and can tell you it is a seamless way to assess a mutual cultural fit.
It’s a very easy, ingenious way of gauging the reaction on the other side. The first time I heard it, I immediately got it — it takes one to know one, right? And, although I am still on the lookout for a wife, I too like to share more about myself besides my professional experience during job interviews: I am on the board of the only lesbian association in Portugal, where I am also the editor of our magazine. But even if that doesn’t come up in a conversation, that is part of my Linkedin bio (I also love to write about being a lesbian, so there’s that).
Honestly, this goes both ways. In preparing for my first job interview with Elisa, as a candidate myself, I read an interview she had given previously, where she mentioned her family and I remember feeling at ease. PHEW, how cool was that. If I was to join the team, I wouldn’t be the only queer. Actually, as I would learn later on, there are plenty of us at Tymeshift.
When you don’t have the structure in place, it becomes everyone’s effort to think, converse, bring questions, reflections, and more. As both People Ops Manager and an activist at heart, I definitely see it as my role to take the lead in that. I love using Slack to sparkle those conversations and even throw the occasional 🏳️🌈 flag.
I don’t mean to lecture anyone, but as a chatty femme, I love me some water cooler interactions. For me, being a lesbian activist means that I wear an extra pair of glasses that make me see the world through different lenses, and that I wear those glasses to work. Being in a People Ops team, it means that I also need to understand that not everyone sees the world through the same lenses as I do. Empathy goes both ways.
Conversely, I also don’t see the world through the same lenses of my POC colleagues, which makes their input and everyone’s care all the more crucial in creating an environment that brings out the best in each one of us while building our strategy.
Unlimited time-off policy
If I was to mention my favorite perk, it would be this one. Not only because everyone loves being on holidays, but because it also gives us the capacity to dedicate ourselves to other passion projects. What does that have to do with fostering a culture that embraces diversity? Everything.
I am currently officially on holidays after a couple of very stressful months, to join Ljubljana Pride Parade Association where I used to volunteer before moving back to Portugal. This association pulls off the yearly Pride parade, a surrounding festival, as well as all year round youth projects.
Was this the best time for me to take holidays? Perhaps no. But my team understands how much this means to me and accommodated my plans, so that I could be enjoying a glass of wine and writing this reflection, right before the bustle of Pride.
Where we are headed
The moral of the story is one I am proud to share: It didn’t even cross my mind to change our logo for Pride month, because Pride is with us all year long: It is part of our lunch breaks, our inside jokes, our casual debates, our personal lives, and even our irreproachable sense of fashion. But we want to build more than that.
Our People ops team officially started in 2021, and as we are building this team from scratch, we are thinking ahead: how can we implement the ways we already are — our humanity, our care for one another, the respect for who we are as individuals — in structured ways and actual processes that include everybody and ensure that our current & future team find a safe, exciting, thriving workplace?
As Tymeshift is growing by the day, so are our plans and our ambition for a year long Pride. I am impatient, so I cannot wait to see how we’ll get there, but I also know it is a process. Being committed to inclusion only starts with a decision. And our journey is just beginning.
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