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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Panel: Closing The LGBT Gap In The Tech IndustryLast week, Bloomberg assembled a panel of leaders from the Bay Area’s Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community for a discussion around thetech industry’s opportunity to be more inclusive and diverse.While there has been a considerable focus recently on the lack of women andminorities in technology, some feel there has been less focus on the LGBTcommunity. But tech companies and the industry in general have been steppingforward to more actively support the LGBT community, especially as thecompetition for top talent heats up in and around the Bay Area.Panelists included Patrick Chung, Co-founder and General Partner of Xfund;Dominique DeGuzman, Software Engineer at Twilio Inc.; Sarah Kate Ellis, CEOand President of GLAAD; Vivienne Ming, Co-founder of Soco; and Kiva Wilson,Diversity Manager at Facebook.Zach Haehn, head of R&D for Bloomberg in San Francisco, opened the panel bysaying, “As a gay man, I’m happy to be able to work in a place where I feelcomfortable and can be myself.”This set the tone for the rest of the conversation, which the panelistsfocused on the progress already made but acknowledged the long road ahead tofull cultural acceptance.“It has been a phenomenal couple of years,” noted Ellis, pointing to theSupreme Court’s recent decision to consider legalizing gay marriage and thefirst State of the Union address that acknowledged LGBT individuals.“We’re chartering new territory in policy, but we need to talk about closingthe gap between policy and ‘full acceptance’ – being able to move through lifecompletely equal,” Ellis said. “Some may say the fight is almost over, but ifyou asked the transgender world, for example, they’d say not really. There’s along way to go but we’re in a great place and have a lot of momentum.”Silicon Valley, specifically, was recognized by many of the panelists forbeing a unique place that truly embraces individuality and innovation. “Techitself is a special space where newness and difference is fuel, so it breedsmore openness towards diversity. It’s a different palette,” said Wilson.“Silicon Valley tends to be more friendly and accepting because of the youthhere; acceptance is usually tied to youth regardless of background,” addedChung. “The nature of what we do is a lot more meritocratic. We don’t need torelate to one other in old business ways.”But there was also general agreement that the Silicon Valley community cannotget complacent with its recent successes and advances.“We’ve come a long way, but we have a much longer way to go. We need to stepoutside Silicon Valley and realize there’s a much bigger world,” said Wilson.In speaking about her company, Twilio Inc., DeGuzman said, “We’ve had iteasier than others in Silicon Valley, so we had blinders on that we didn’twant to carry through our company.” She noted that her company’s employees nowpush themselves to see how they can be more gender-neutral in what they do andhow they relate to one another. “This is something people want to rally aroundand change,” she said.In order to keep the momentum, Ellis underscored the continued importance ofcoming out and pointed to the power of Tim Cook’s decision to come out inBloomberg Businessweek last year. “To see someone at that level and at thatcompany come out creates a global event; it passes borders,” she said.Watch the full conversation here.

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