As we celebrate Pride this year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect upon the recent tragedy in Orlando. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, friends, allies, and communities.
Now more than ever, we each have an opportunity to be an ally. In doing so, we can encourage compassion, kindness, and love—not just in the LGBTQIA community, but in every community to which we belong.
Employers should be allies. By providing a hiring and working experience in which all people feel they are equally respected and valued, regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, ability, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes someone unique, companies can contribute positively to this equation.
Asana strives to be the change we want to see in the workplace, and that is one which is radically inclusive. As we prepare to celebrate Pride this weekend, we’d like to highlight the members of the LGBTQIA community who are part of Team Asana, and take a look at how we can all create a more diverse, inclusive, and inspiring company.
We sat down with Ashley, Elden, Emilie, Josh, Patrick, Rachel, and Tim to talk about education, support, and empowerment at the Asana office.
Creating a more LGBTQIA-inclusive environment
“Being inclusive is about education and openness to learning about the constant evolution of identity,” Josh explains. “By being curious and open, you can show any diverse group or minority that you support and would like to learn more about them.”
“Even though I’m part of the LGBTQIA community, I can always be educating myself about the experiences of others in the community,” says Emilie from the marketing team. “For example, I know and understand so much more about the transgender, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming experience than I ever did before some of our dynamic and enlightening all-hands sessions on these areas here at Asana, led by community experts such as Mordecai Cohen Ettinger of CIIS.”
Support LGBTQIA Employees
There are lots of ways to support all employees, from company infrastructure to day-to-day interactions. Inclusive benefits and facilities, such as gender-inclusive bathrooms and insurance that covers mental health care and all parents, endeavor to provide support from which all employees can benefit.
We also encourage people to become aware of preferred pronouns, and recognize unconscious biases and assumptions that might arise around language. Elden (they/them/theirs), a member of our engineering team, notes that “when companies encourage introducing pronouns, it’s great. I’ve had a lot of people here [at Asana] ask me if I wanted them to introduce my pronouns, which I find really helpful and welcoming.”
Empowering employees is an essential part to creating an inclusive environment. Asana has “a unique organizational structure that empowers all people to contribute and be heard across projects and teams, essentially allowing individuals who have different gender identities or backgrounds to speak up in places they might not have always felt so comfortable to do so,” says Ashley, our web analytics lead.
Rachel, an engineer, adds that “noticing when people are passionate about something and giving them the space to champion their passions, such as diversity in recruiting, further empowers them.”
In addition to empowering employees, building a supportive environment and culture of learning from mistakes is important to allow for growth, says Tim from the recruiting team. At Asana, “we’re often of the opinion that it’s even better for someone to take on more challenges after they’ve made mistakes, because they’ve learned from them.”
Be open and communicate
Openness and communication with all groups lead to an increasingly transparent and inclusive environment. We focus on fostering openness in our work environment, personal lives, and within our product. At work, “our leadership training gives people the space to be vulnerable with their emotions, building in a support system because we all go through the training,” says Josh.
According to Ashley, we “put a lot of effort into getting to know each other beyond just work interactions through team off-sites and meals together. They give us spaces to get to know co-workers as humans, which creates a really friendly, supportive atmosphere.” Tim feels that “the heart feature in Asana helps people show support and be encouraging. In email, unless someone actively responds with support, it doesn’t get communicated.”
Engage with your community
Companies can show their support by partnering with organizations or events that support marginalized groups. Asana has sponsored and spoken at the Out For Undergrad Technology conference for three years, and recently sponsored and spoke at Lesbians Who Tech.
Bring your authentic self to work
We encourage all Asanas to bring their authentic selves to work. Patrick, from sales, notes that, “It’s weird, I don’t feel like I have to try to bring my full self to work, which I used to think about more before working in tech—now I don’t have to psych myself up just to be myself each day [laughs].”
To help people feel like they can be themselves, we “affirm that we really do mean the sincere-sounding things that we say—like, can you really have managers who are responsible for emotional and career growth? Yes, you can,” says Rachel.
Finally, even something as simple as a flexible dress code can matter. Josh notes, “I appreciate that so many other people use clothing as an avenue to express themselves and it’s something that I’ve been able to do here. I can have fun with clothing and my personal expression of how I want to be seen at work and not have it fit into rigid fashion format or corporate dress code.”
All of this said, Patrick reminds us that “there’s a flipside to having been in an inclusive environment for so long, which is making sure you respect people’s journey to bringing their full selves to work. If they don’t want to or aren’t ready, they shouldn’t be pushed in that direction.”
The LGBTQIA community and tech
There have been many changes in the LGBTQIA community in the past few years. To Patrick, “The tech community has been at the forefront of changes that we’re now seeing across wider corporate America around how employees in the community are treated in the workplace,” and we’re starting to finally see changes outside of tech.
We have also seen a lot of support programs showing up in tech, like mentorship and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Tim has noticed “a shift from focusing on ourselves at work to thinking about those who are coming into tech or need more support.” There also are more and more spaces for people to meet in, whether they’re happy hours , conferences, or meetups.
For Josh, seeing examples of success “like Tim Cook becoming CEO of Apple and other examples of people being their full selves” has been inspiring.
The work’s not done.
There are many ways to get involved in LGBTQIA allyship in both the workplace and your community, including speaking at events, talking to candidates about diversity, asking about gender pronouns – or even just providing open channels for communication and flagging issues.
Rachel feels “most seen by [her] company when others notice the issues that [she’d] otherwise have to be the one speaking up about.” There’s always room for improvement, too — and the work is far from done. But when “a company can acknowledge its shortcomings and do work without it only being driven by the marginalized employee group—that’s cool.”