Meet Becky Butler who is a member of our Sales Development Team here at DueDil. Becky is passionate about driving LGBTQ+ inclusion in Tech. After attending the Lesbians Who Tech conference, Becky speaks about why it is vital that LGBTQ+ policies are at the top of every company's agenda.
Last year, there were only two openly LGBTQ+ chief executives of FTSE 100 companies. Just let that sink in for a second. That’s an incredibly small number when you really think about it.
As a gay woman working in tech, this is an issue that crops up time and time again when I consider my future ambitions. I am incredibly fortunate to work for DueDil, a company who fiercely supports diversity and inclusion in all its many brilliant forms, but there is no hiding from the fact that a ‘Pink Ceiling’ exists in the wider tech and business world. The recruitment firm hired.com found that aside from the gender pay gap, a discrepancy also exists between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees. Analysis of their own data found that LGBTQ+ women were at the bottom of the list when it came to both expected and received salaries.
That’s why Lesbians Who Tech is so crucial and so overdue. With the tagline, “Queer, Inclusive and Badass”, LWT is the professional network for LGBTQ+ people working in tech that we‘ve all been waiting for. Earlier this month, I attended their London summit where movers and shakers from the industry pulled together to address a diverse, inclusive and engaged audience.
The event was a platform for thoughts, speakers, concepts and ideas to progress not only opportunities for more inclusion of women, LGBTQ+, and people of colour in tech, but tangible advice on ‘doing the do’ - to take hold of your ideas and make them a viable reality. There were practical tips for product engineers, coders and tech-sales professionals.
There was a real sense of urgency and the message was clear - don’t wait around for those at the top to welcome you with open arms – be proactive and create the world you want to see, with tech as an enabler for social change.
We heard about the feminist principles of the internet, where Maja Kraljic, web developer at the Association for Progressive Communications spoke on moves to create a feminist internet where patriarchy is demolished, based on values and principles of equality. This was a rousing call to arms, with an emphasis on using feminist activism to completely overhaul and redesign the internet to make it as accessible as possible, as opposed to simply tweaking what we already know.
Radha Narayan, Product Manager at Google, then spoke about the process of product development, comparing this to the principles of community organisation. This was a fascinating comparison that really instilled confidence in the room to take on projects with a passion to make visions a reality guided by a series of tangible steps.
From a very personal perspective, it was incredible to watch so many influential leaders in the industry speak about their own journeys. Growing up it was difficult to find LGBTQ+ role models in the business world. Discovering trailblazers like Edie Windsor, Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Mary Portas and Claudia Brind-Woody showed me that it was possible to achieve astronomical success whilst never shying away from your own truth. I was delighted when Claudia was announced as one of the speakers for the event and listening to her advice on owning not only the room but also your identity was unforgettable, and I cherished her sentiments on making your individuality your USP.
Role models such as these are important both inside and outside of the tech sector to embrace a way of working that isn’t dictated by the standardised norms we are so used to experiencing. If you do not see your identity represented in your industry then the net effect is one of not being welcome, which is really dangerous for personal career development and the progression of the industry as a whole. In a recent study by Stonewall, it was found that a third of gay and transgender people in Britain hide their sexuality or gender identity from work colleagues. This is why it is crucial that employers actively promote a culture of inclusivity and strive to create LGBTQ+ friendly policies that allow the rich tapestry of people that make up the workforce to flourish. These policies and cultures are directly associated with higher firm value and profitability.
At DueDil, there is a culture of acceptance and we are incredibly fortunate to work in this environment. We cheer each other on and see our individual differences as our collective advantage. There are events around Pride month, a Women At DueDil committee and regular events held to promote inclusion without exception. There will always be more work to be done but I feel privileged to be able to play a part in the future of these initiatives. My advice to anyone who feels that their company isn’t doing enough is to take charge and (without wanting to sound like an Instagram quote) be the change you want to see. Spearhead the creation of an LGBTQ+ company committee, lead on events around Pride and LGBT History Month and set up internal and external panels with leaders in your field. Find others within your company who share your vision and work together to bring about culture change.
Events like ‘Lesbians Who Tech’ are enabling that culture change to progress by bringing people from our communities together, to share skills and insights and allowing us to remember that we do exist, we aren’t going away and that our presence will only be felt more powerfully as time goes on.
Inclusion in tech is not the end game, it is only the beginning.