Published on 18th June 2021 by Arron Westbrook

Celebrating Pride Month at Deepcrawl: Sharing stories and lived experiences

pride at Deepcrawl

To celebrate Pride Month 2021, we spoke to people from across Deepcrawl to find out what Pride means to them, get their take on how people in the LGBTQ+ community can truly bring their authentic selves to work, and find out what the tech industry can do to become a more inclusive place.

Today, we wanted to share some of their insights and shared wisdom with you too. What follows are some of their powerful responses. In this blog you’ll hear from:

On a personal note, I was humbled and honored to have these meaningful conversations with my fellow Deepcrawlers. They are all incredibly unique and insightful. We hope you enjoy reading their stories and insights, and Happy Pride Month from everyone at Deepcrawl. 🏳️‍🌈
 

Ashley Berman Hale, VP Professional Services

Ashley Berman Hale

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Ashley?

I’m in my late 30s and have a taste in humor that rivals most 15-year-olds. I live in Colorado with my partner and 2 kids plus a gaggle of creatures. I’ve been working in tech most of my life so I keep things interesting with hobbies and bad habits. I play roller derby, like to travel, but like to pet people’s dogs even more.

Q: Why is pride month important to you?

There are a few different reasons that PRIDE is important to me.

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and is struggling with being true to themselves at work?

Security needs to come first. As much as I want workplaces to be open and accepting, that’s not always the case.

That said, there are usually compassionate people to be found everywhere – so start where you feel the most comfortable. In larger orgs, look for or start employee resource groups. And if your position and safety allows, speak up.

Just using the right words to talk about things or even having personal meetings on your calendar can be a good way to make others have conversations themselves.

For example, I label my therapy appointments as “therapy”. Other people on my team do as well now and it creates an unspoken but powerful understanding that we’re all human and that as a team we prioritize mental health.

Similarly, I can add time for my PRIDE events on my calendar and it can spark really incredible and meaningful connections with coworkers I may not have otherwise had. If there’s room for it, I prefer to bring my whole self to work and have friendships and conversations that are about me as a whole person – but you need to do what is best and safest for you.

Q: How do you think the tech industry can become a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ communities?

Talking about stigmatized topics/people dulls the sharp edges. Ask sincere questions of people, recognize challenges and unique difficulties, MAKE ROOM for LGTBQ+ discussions and people to exist how they are and how they want to be within y/our space. Data is a great place to start, but if we want to be inclusive we need to take action – often that is just elevating the voices and ideas of others. Don’t let non-LGTBQ+ become the spokesperson to how we’re becoming more inclusive, don’t use data and nice platitudes without concrete action.
 

Craig Dunham, Chief Operating Officer

Craig Dunham

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Craig?

As COO, I lead operations and strategy for the Deepcrawl business. I have a particular focus on the commercial side of things but help with overall alignment across the entire organization. 

I have a background in SaaS software, having worked at several other successful startups. I have a diverse set of leadership experiences across sales, marketing, customer success, product, and engineering. And I care deeply about diversity as a strategy for greater organizational success.

Q: Why is pride month important to you?

I cannot say that I grew up as an ally to the LGTBQ+ community in the same way that I am now. As I’ve matured, learned, and grown, I’ve been able to recognize my own privilege and the level of inclusion afforded to me as a cis-male.

With that said, as a black male, I can empathize with the struggles of being in the minority and the additional challenges that arise as a result. Pride month is a great way to bring forward thoughtful, powerful stories and voices of LGBTQ+ culture and uplift and recognize how amazing it is to who you are – to love who you want. Pride month is a single period of time where it is spotlighted, but I hope we can continue to uplift all year around.

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and is struggling with being true to themselves at work?

It’s often easy for the majority to tell someone in the minority to just “be yourself” – oftentimes those folks giving that advice do not understand the potential anxiety, fear, and other challenges that may arise with that. 

I think the advice is to continue to put pressure on organizations and the government. It’s not on folks in LGBTQ+ communities. The change needs to happen at the societal / system level. My advice is to stay relentless and persist. To put yourselves in situations where you feel comfortable just being yourself. If you don’t, then re-evaluate and move somewhere that values you and values all of you. Don’t settle. 

Q: How do you think the tech industry can become a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ communities?

Create space for active dialogues to learn and understand the experiences of others who may live a different life than your own. Ask questions and really listen to the responses. Much of change starts with an empathetic ear. 

Secondly, drive change with specific initiatives and programs designed to build trust. Examine recruitment and retention processes, employee policies and programs, marketing events, literature, content, your website – all of the things which may be unintentionally discriminatory or might feel exclusionary for a person who identifies as LGBTQ+ and scrutinize it through a different lens.
 

Lucas Carniel, Delivery Lead

Lucas Carniel

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Lucas?

I came out to my friends and family when I was 25 years old. However, it took me quite some time before that to be able to come out to myself first and accept who I am. At first, I wasn’t even able to say out loud that I was gay.

I was brought up in a very conservative family and I was truly horrified by the possible reactions people could have if I told them. I kept playing the worst-case scenarios over and over in my head where I’d be left alone in the world.

Luckily for me, the reality was far from that. I started off by telling two of my more open-minded friends who I thought to be very low-risk of having a bad reaction to it. After that, I proceeded to tell my closest friends and eventually my family. Everyone’s reaction was to support me and say that nothing would ever change in how they loved me. If anything I feel like they love me even more now!

The weight lifted off my shoulders was indescribable. I feel like I don’t need to hide who I am to anyone anymore and can truly be myself, which enables me to live a much happier and more fulfilled life.

Q: Why is pride month important to you?

Pride month to me means knowing that I was never going to be alone, to begin with. It means celebrating who you are and spreading happiness and love. It means understanding that being LGBTQ+ is not a ‘preference’ or a ‘choice’. It means recognizing the enormous fight for equality that has been going on for decades that has empowered me to be who I am today. It means understanding that that fight is far from over until everyone is treated with respect.

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and is struggling with being true to themselves at work?

LGBTQ+ people are not out at work in the UK today according to a 2018 Stonewall report. When you are hiding who you are, social interactions at work can become a source of anxiety.

Creating a culture where people are empowered to bring their whole self to work means better relationships, idea sharing, innovation, and workplace happiness.

If you are worried about coming out at work, start off by remembering that you are protected legally under the Equality Act of 2010. The first step to being your authentic self is to have an open conversation about it, then people will take a lead off of you. Own who you are. Surround yourself with people with who you can be yourself. Be brave.

Everyone’s situation is different, but always remember that you are not alone. And I’m here to have a private conversation with anyone who needs support in coming out. By coming together, we can create a world where everyone can be proud of who they are and celebrate their identity and uniqueness.

Q: How do you think the tech industry can become a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ communities?

I’d say it’s not just about LGBTQ+ inclusion in isolation. It has to be from an intersectional perspective. It’s all about being consciously inclusive.

As a gay man, I’m aware that lesbian women, bisexual people, and trans people face different forms of discrimination. But we also need to think about diversity equality and inclusion holistically across gender, disability, race, neurodiversity, LGBTQ+, and age.

Specifically speaking from an LGBTQ+ perspective I believe the tech industry can start off by:

 

Alexander Tyson March, Business Development Representative

Alexander Tyson March

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Alexander?

I always hate the about me sections, I never know what to say! I am an out and proud homosexual that identifies by he/him pronouns. I spend most of my off time cooking, reading, and socializing with friends.

Q: Why is pride month important to you?

As a child raised in a religious household my life was much different than it is today. I knew from an early age that I did not identify with the hetronormative preachings of the Church which often made me feel like an outcast.

My mother’s, sweet but misguided, attempts to connect me with children my age further highlighted my awkwardness with myself causing me to take on personas to avoid bullying and further ostracization. I often told myself that this phase would pass because it was God’s will to give my mother grandbabies. It was only after a very traumatic forced outing that I was finally honest with myself shattering the false narrative I used as a security blanket.

We have far too many stories of unaccepting families so I’ll save you some time on that front.

My lifeline came in the form of a close friend at work by the name of Selina. She was my first LGBTQ+ ally, often dragging me out of my comfort zone allowing me to experience something new. She dragged me kicking and screaming to my very first pride on a hot summer day in Albuquerque…the summers are brutal!

I remember feeling the waves of emotion and joy seeing so many people celebrating what I had felt ashamed of. The music, the laughter, the love was almost deafening at times. I felt connected to a world of beauty I knew nothing about in a way that transcended my 18-year-old knowledge.

I knew that my life had some meaning I had been missing out on and I refused to continue to be ashamed. Since that day I have never missed a Pride and make it a mission to help others experience that joy.

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and is struggling with being true to themselves at work?

While I would love to say all companies are as open and inclusive as mine, it is understandable to be worried about being your true self. If you are fearful of workplace issues in regards to LGBTQ+ rights, start off by reaching out to your manager, or HR. Chances are your company might be more forward-thinking than previously thought and would love the opportunity to create an inclusive workplace.

If they are, I’m gonna say it, backward thinking, reach out to your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stating your claims of discriminatory actions. If you have to go the EEOC route make sure you have documented all issues including your contact with HR, it will help! I know that sounds like a lot of work, but sometimes we have to fight for our rights!

Life can be tough sometimes but remember it does not have to stay that way. If you are struggling with your LGBTQ+ identity, reach out to someone in your community as you are not alone.

Q: How do you think the tech industry can become a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ communities?

This is definitely a tricky question. I personally hate it when I see companies change their logos for Pride season while furthering anti-LGBTQ+ agendas…I have a whole rant on this…again will save you time.

Tech companies can put their money where their mouth is and commit to LGBTQ+ community outreach. I fully expect a company that has a rainbow logo for Pride to participate year-round in the community not just for the dollars but to really help. Companies that reach out to the community show LGBTQ+ employees that they really care about them.
 

Carlos Solis, Finance Manager

Carlos Solis

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Carlos?

I started working at Deepcrawl a year ago and it has been a very busy year. Before Deepcrawl I used to work for the Media/Production industry. I enjoy music, contemporary art, and traveling.

Q: Why is pride month important to you?

Pride month is a very important time for the LGBTQ+ community. Since the Stonewall riots back in June 1969, it marked the beginning of a new era. Personally, I have been involved in different activities within the community. There are quite a few charities in London that are always in need of support. I think Pride month is a good excuse to try and get involved!

Q: What piece of advice would you give someone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community and is struggling with being true to themselves at work?

Even though we are in 2021 it’s not always easy to be yourself at work. People should start to care less about their sexual identity/orientation and focus more on skills and production.

There are still many prejudices and stereotypes. It was only a year ago when the US ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prospects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Many other countries still have a lot of work to do on this subject.

For someone struggling, I think that the best way out is to be yourself and flag any issues with your HR department.

Q: How do you think the tech industry can become a more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ communities?

The problem with the tech industry is that it’s not as diverse as it should be. This is a problem that the industry is still struggling with.

Diversity and inclusion groups, as we have in Deepcrawl, are an excellent starting point that many other companies should do. Also transparent and non-discriminatory HR processes are key for a more inclusive workplace. Again, I think Deepcrawl it’s doing a great job in this area.

Author

Arron Westbrook
Arron Westbrook

Arron Westbrook is Content Marketing Manager at DeepCrawl. You'll find him writing about all things digital marketing, SEO, content, and automation.

Choose a better way to grow

With tools that will help you realize your website’s true potential, and support to help you get there, growing your enterprise business online has never been so simple.

Book a Demo