Pipefy Engineering: Pride Month Special — Out in Tech
I’ve been working at Pipefy for 6 years and some, and there’s a part of the company that has always fascinated me.
You see, Diversity, inclusion and belonging are not just words we throw around here. They’re an active part of our DNA. They are principles we take very seriously and work non-stop to make sure each and every one of the Honey Badgers — how we call our team members — embraces and practices on a daily basis.
Since June is Pride Month, I wanted to go and ask directly to some of the LGBTQIA+ members of our engineering, product, and design teams to share a bit more about their experiences, both good and bad, of being openly out in their professional lives and work environment, including their time at Pipefy. We often see PRIDE content pieces from companies gloating about Diversity and posting a rainbow here and there during June, and then it’s over. I don’t feel that’s nearly enough (and you shouldn’t too).
So I’ve asked our guests four questions which I’ll use to divide the following parts of this article.
What does being out in tech mean to you?
Being a person from the LGBTQIA+ community means you will continue having to come out of the closet your entire life.
One of our team members started her answer with this statement. Workplace dynamics aside, LGBTQIA+ people have to continuously come out throughout their lives. This poses a challenge due to the growing polarization and extremism we’re dealing with in most modern societies.
People’s reactions can be unpredictable, even when dealing with work dynamics. She finishes her answer by saying that she feels very privileged that:
Working in such an accepting company and, for me, being able to be who I am and love who I love is just peaceful.
Another team member said that “being out and proud in tech for me means to educate and represent. Everyone needs to have contact with LGBTQIA+ people to learn by empathizing and getting to know the humanity that we all share”.
As an ally and a Pipefy employee, it meant so much to hear this, it speaks volumes to me. I do too believe that empathy is key when it comes to interacting with people. Understanding where they come from, respecting their uniqueness, and opening ourselves up to the new is essential to evolve and contribute to a better society.
Being a gay developer is not the most common thing, and even among the LGBTQIA+ community, people may think it’s really odd.
Those were the words of one of our developers, who also described his initial experience similar to being at a party you were not invited to — even in such a wide, essential and huge field as Tech. People often stereotype others and it’s very important to show people it’s possible to be an LGBTQIA+ person and work with technology just like it’s possible to work in any other area.
While both represent parts of who he is, they’re independent and don’t limit who he is.
Being out in tech means being seen and represented. To have equality in every aspect of tech, from the building of it to the sales. LGBTQ+ developers, transforming processes and algorithms, testers, hackers, all working together for a more inclusive tech.
Worrying about equality and representation is essential for building products and services that cover the needs of a broader audience, and not just a segregated part of it, therefore making it possible for more people to actively use the technologies that we have access to and build as well.
Most of our answers revolved around desiring basic human respect. Being out in tech, according to all our guests, often means working towards work environments in which people don’t have to be afraid of being fired or reprimanded for being themselves — and here at Pipefy, we take this very seriously.
It makes me feel hopeful to see we have an active role in that, hearing one of our team members say, “I’ve been working with IT for 19 years, I’ve seen a lot. But I’m also seeing how much the Tech Communities are evolving in this aspect.”
Have you ever been bullied, mistreated, or given less credit for being yourself in the work environment?
This is the question I’ve received a variety of answers for. Some of the people feel good and privileged to be who they are without repercussions. Some individuals have been bullied, been joked about, or even fired because of their sexual orientation. There is a common thread behind each of these responses: if only we took a second to think about an offensive comment before making it, and think about the behavior and not the joke itself, the world might be more inclusive and respectful.
I’ve had my sexuality, culture, manners, and lifestyle used as jokes. Things that now, knowing they are my superpowers and what makes me special, don’t hurt me anymore, and I use them as a weapon to fight back. I’ve also experienced being a step behind a straight person when it comes to promotion and recognition in the work environment.
Being a white, cisgender heterosexual woman, I find it very painful to read the following words, especially because most of the times we fail to see a lot of the privilege we have — and I personally know and am a friend of the people you’ve been reading the statements here, we often don’t even know what they go through if we don’t simply ASK:
I was fired from a job because I started dating my boyfriend, who worked in the same company, 6 years ago. Even if the company had no rules regarding people dating, or the fact that there were a lot of straight couples inside the company.
The women who replied identified themselves as either lesbian or bisexual and pointed out that setting boundaries is something they have to do all the time, especially when working in a male-dominated environment (as is the standard in tech). One of them said,” It’s not easy to be a woman in tech. Less easy to be a bisexual woman in tech without being fetishized.”
Do you believe Pipefy does enough to avoid prejudice and LGBTQIA+ phobia? What could we do differently?
Pipefy was the first company that I felt safe to talk about this, starting in the recruitment process. After spending so much time in toxic work environments you kind of create a self-defense mechanism about it and even though I believe some things could be better, Pipefy is still the safest work environment I’ve been in.
Radical candor is one of Pipefy’s principles and we make sure to enforce it on a daily basis. Avoiding toxicity, openly confronting people while caring for them personally is something we as a company show our Honey Badgers from day one (or even before they become part of our team).
While some participants said amazing things about feeling safe to be exactly who they are and externalize it proudly at Pipefy, we can’t forget that we still live in a world in which “being an LGBTQIA+ person is still a crime in over 60 countries. Until that changes, every public and internal action we do as a company towards equality and fighting prejudice is a step in the right and bright way!”
It makes me truly sad to hear that there are cultures in which people are legally prohibited from being themselves, but it also makes me happy when people acknowledge that being loud and proud about PRIDE is not just social media and a couple of rainbow flags here and there. It’s something very close to our heart and proudly represented by our #Diversify employee resource group.
If you could give a tip for someone who’s suffering from being openly out in their work environment, what would that be?
My tip would be to know yourself, love who you are, and amp it up to 200%. Everything negative that someone has to express about the way you are and love has exclusively to do with their self-hatred rather than with you.
While that is a great tip and we’re all for being as loud and proud as we possibly can, I’ve heard from our guests that it’s also very important for people to take their time and share only what they feel comfortable with and with people that they can trust.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen from the answers that not all places are like Pipefy, and coming out can have unpredictable consequences. If you’re not entirely sure about how to protect yourself until you feel safe to share, we encourage you to be confident in the workplace, knowing that you’re an amazing professional, and you can do amazing things. After you feel safe, you can share what you want with people that respect and care about you.
If I could give a tip to someone that’s suffering from being out is: don’t give up. It gets better, and there are amazing companies to work at that will allow you to be the person you are and love who you love.
Another very important tip directed at those who are still not out in their company and are afraid to, just take your time. No one can come out for you. It is a personal journey and you don’t have to go through it if you don’t want to.
Respect yourself, your limits, your timing. When you feel safe and ready, be vocal and patient. Even if you explain your feelings to others, many people still won’t be able to empathize or understand it.
Instead of getting mad with a colleague that is still learning about it (not talking here about prejudice but ignorance), focus on the root cause: “Why don’t people know that yet? Why don’t they understand it?” Use logic in your favor. And also, have allies to help you when you are too tired of having to explain every time.
I’d like to thank all those that contributed to this amazing article and reinforce that Pipefy is a company that embraces and values diversity. While I can only speak from my almost six years of experience in this company, I can say that we do everything in our power to create safe, respectful environments and I’m a proud ally!
Thank you also for reading this very long article and if you’d like to learn more about Pipefy’s culture, we welcome you to follow our social media channels (we’re on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook).
Stay strong and remember, you’re never alone!
Written by Isabelle W. Salemme, Dev Rel and Engineering Community Management. Women@Pipefy co-leader and LGBTQIA+ Ally, she’s an avid reader and writer, a coffee lover, and a professional photographer.
– Posted originally on PipeBlog, 07/25/2021