Diverse Get-together in Berlin – LGBT+ Tech Week
In 2019, Boxcryptor was all about diversity. As part of a diversity training course, we reviewed our entire application process to see whether our website and web texts really appealed to everyone – as desired. We got support from an expert, read books, and discussed the topic in the team.
For us, it was obvious that we would also send someone to the LGBT+ Tech Week in Berlin. After all, we want to know what’s new in diversity management in the technology industry. So our support colleague Yasmin was on her way to sneak a peek and find out what other tech companies are doing, to create an LGBT+ friendly environment for their team.
LGBT+ is an abbreviation for people who do not correspond to heteronormativity. This refers to a society which is based on the binary gender order and in which the anatomical gender is equated with gender identity. Lesbians, gays, trans people, intersexual or asexual people deviate from this norm and therefore experience discrimination in many places. They are confronted with reservations because all “deviant” aspects of human sexuality are pathologized.
Boxcryptor and LGBT+
Boxcryptor is one of the companies that tries to create a working environment in which members of the LGBT+ community can feel comfortable and develop without reservations. For us, this clear statement falls within the area of diversity management, because we are convinced that we offer a better product and create better jobs if we let as many people as possible with different perspectives work on Boxcryptor.
Aware of the importance of this attitude, our management has also signed the Charter of Diversity. All other diversity management measures are listed on our page on diversity.
What is the LGBT+ Tech Week in Berlin?
The LGBT+ Tech Week was organized by the UHLALA Group. With various projects and apps, LGBT+ offers people the opportunity to network and develop professionally. Several events per month in big cities like Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich promote the exchange of the community. One example is the LGBT+ Tech Week in Berlin, which took place from September 9 to 15.
Which Measures Help LGBT+ People in Their Daily Work?
In addition to talks, sessions and get-to-know games, the five major executive partners of LGBT+ Tech Week played a decisive role. Every evening, members of a partner company talked about their own diversity management and how LGBT+ offers people a pleasant working atmosphere. For example, some of them made very good experiences with setting up an extra budget for LGBT+ networking, for meetings or training sessions, for example. One participant reported that she had had good experiences with reacting immediately to negative comments, asking questions and explaining.
But why does sexual orientation or gender identity play such an important role in everyday professional life? The answer is simple: if you have to hide your identity from others in the team or act in order not to attract attention, you are inhibited in your free development. Especially in such creative industries as IT and technology, this leads to professional disadvantages. Effects on other areas of life are then only a matter of time.
The audience of the LGBT+ Tech Week was mainly members of the LGBT+ community. Almost all of them originally came from other countries and had found a place in Berlin where they could live freely and largely untroubled. Many reported that the city is very liberal compared to their countries of origin (e.g. Ukraine, USA, Singapore or Venezuela). Accordingly, there are many companies in Berlin that are open to LGBT+ people. The start-up mentality, which can often be found in medium-sized companies and corporations in Berlin, promotes this additionally.
Our Yasmin especially enjoyed the open and friendly atmosphere. A great comfort factor was that everyone knew that the others in the room had similar experiences. Everyone was equally welcome, equally important and equally appreciative of each other.
Nobody asks if you are gay or lesbian, because it doesn't matter.
(Yasmin from Boxcryptor)
In any case, we are very happy that our colleague did not leave us instantly to move to Berlin. She was so enthusiastic about the culture she experienced at the participating companies of the LGBT+ Tech Week in Berlin that she would have applied if she hadn’t been at Boxcryptor. That’s why the urgent recommendation to the LGBT+ community comes out at this point: Go to Tech Week in Berlin if you want to develop yourself professionally!
Diversity in companies
The five evenings with the Executive Partners were all about diversity in tech. Signavio, METRONOM, Spark Networks, Productsup and Flixmobility unanimously reported on how diversity is seen as added value from an entrepreneurial perspective. The speakers, for example, assumed that the value of a company increases, the more diverse the workforce is, because both corporate communications and marketing, and the product will improve. Accordingly, better sales figures are achieved.
By the way, this assumption can also be proven by studies and can therefore be used excellently as an argument to tackle the issue of diversity in one’s own company, from an economic point of view.
Sessions, Pitches, Breaks and Slots
Some testimonials of those present were especially memorable. Signavio, for example, dealt with data mining, the collection of data from publicly available sources in social networks. The company presented how they manage to read a person’s sexual orientation from their entries.
Storm Hurwitz, data analyst for the New York Times, reported how he came to the newspaper as a gay man. He raved about how well he could integrate into the editorial staff and be himself at the same time. That was a moving report.
At Spark Networks, the topic was dating platforms. The company addresses different target groups with different apps. The question of the evening was: How to optimize landing pages for different target groups?
Another fun slot was pitching time, during which either individuals or companies introduced themselves to their vacancies.
Conclusion of the LGBT+ Tech Week 2019 in Berlin
As soon as the date of the next Tech Week is announced, we will book our train tickets. Do I have to say more? Yasmin came back from Berlin happy and relaxed. We are happy about the impressions she brought back from the industry. She has made some new contacts, which she now maintains on a regular basis.
All information about the LGBT+ Tech Week in Berlin can be found here. The photos have been published with the kind permission of the Uhlala Group.