Every month in June for the last four years, PagerDuty has changed its logo to highlight our LGBTQ2+ support—and we continue to do so in...by Brett Willemsen
June 17, 2019
Every month in June for the last four years, PagerDuty has changed its logo to highlight our LGBTQ2+ support—and we continue to do so in 2019. For the unaware, LGBTQ2+ Pride Month is when we commemorate the struggles of past LGBTQ2+ folks and to raise awareness of those still struggling around the world.
This year, more than ever, companies are getting criticized for changing their logo to show “support” for Pride Month. Corporations that have historically not supported the LGBTQ2+ community are marketing themselves as allies while not actively participating in solving the issues the community experiences.
The LGBTQ2+ community’s criticism of corporations showing their support is valid. Pride Month isn’t—and should never be—a holiday that’s exploited for capitalist gain. However, there are many LGBTQ2+ folks who are living and working for companies that they are proud to work for and they feel that they need to show their support. Here’s why PagerDuty feels it’s important to show that support and what we are doing internally and externally to support LGBTQ2+ people.
First off, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Brett Willemsen, and I’m an Engineering Manager at PagerDuty working out of our Toronto office (go Raptors!). I’m married and, like many people in the world, I’m a gay man. I had a fairly typical Ontario upbringing, and coming out was comparatively easy for me.
Many, perhaps even most, LGBTQ2+ people around the world in 2019 face punishment that may even include death just for being LGBTQ2+. While things are improving, we must still show our pride and solidarity with those who cannot safely express who they really are. There are many LGBTQ2+ folks at PagerDuty who share this belief and who also believe that diversity makes us stronger. To highlight Pride at PagerDuty is to celebrate all people and to shine a light on those in the world who cannot simply be themselves. We change our logo for Pride Month each year because we want to show that we are a welcoming and safe space, and that we support all people.
To highlight Pride Month, RainbowDuty, our Employee Resource Group, hosts events throughout June. RainbowDuty is made up of all types of people from across the company, LGBTQ2+ folks and allies.
We organize meetups where we invite folks from other companies and the public to come share food and drinks with us. We have hosted movie screenings; last year, we had a screening of Moonlight. We march in the SF Pride Parade. We deck out our offices with pride decorations, and we have our famous logo, created by RainbowDuty and painted by a member of the LGBTQ2+ community. We put that logo everywhere we can—in our apps, on our website, in our product, and on shirts that are handed out to all employees. This year, through PagerDuty.org, the company will be matching up to $10,000 worth of employee donations to charities selected by RainbowDuty, including The Trevor Project and Casey House.
Prior to working at PagerDuty, I had seen many examples of workplace discrimination and how simply not taking inclusion and diversity seriously can drive people out of a company and make for a toxic environment.
In other companies and environments many LBGTQ2+ people wouldn’t get past the first in-person interview. They’d be singled out for “not being a culture fit” or less obviously discriminated against by having a hiring process that involves “gut feel.” There are even places that still allow slurs and hate speech as part of their culture—not because they think it’s okay but because no one cares to have an inclusive and safe environment for all people.
I personally believe that diversity and inclusion makes us all stronger so when I joined PagerDuty, I had a high bar for the company to meet and needed to learn to trust that it would do right. That happened quickly.
I saw great examples of a diverse and inclusive environment. I saw a place where a non-binary person could be themselves and not get judged or treated differently by their peers. A place where there is zero tolerance for discrimination, hate speech, or slurs. Where diversity and equity in hiring is taken very seriously (as a hiring manager I get to see this firsthand). I saw that when we change our logo for Pride Month, we get customers questioning our intentions. Our awesome Customer Support team handles those cases by explaining to them why we think it’s important and that we stand firm on our beliefs to change our logo for Pride Month.
Are we perfect though? No. No company or ally can be perfect, and there are many ways we can improve. We are always working on it. For example, at last year’s Pride Month, we only flew the rainbow pride flag in our offices. We missed the opportunity to be more inclusive and didn’t fly the trans and bi flags. And of course we can always do better with regards to equity, diversity, and inclusion. We took a huge step in that direction by hiring our first Director of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity at the start of the calendar year. Plus, this year, we made sure to fly all the flags in our offices.
Pride Month and LGBTQ2+ rights will be controversial for the foreseeable future and likely the remainder of the century or more. We can all do better. And it is simple, small steps like making Pride Month visible that will push everyone to respect each other and to eventually have equal rights for all.