Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month with OUTsight
The month of October is dedicated to recognizing LGBTQ+ community icons throughout history. Compared to PRIDE month in June, this observance celebrates specific LGBTQ+ community members and their achievements. Let’s talk about what recognizing LGBTQ+ community means inside Insight Partners by introducing some of the founding members of Insight’s new Employee Resource Group (ERG) for LGBTQ+ employees and allies.
What does having OUTsight as an ERG at Insight Partners mean to you?
Alberto Padilla Rivera, OUTsight Co-founder: First of all, it’s a strong signal of the firm’s commitment to DE&I and specifically, their support for LGBTQ+ employees. It also provides a forum for LGBTQ+ employees at Insight to connect, discuss common challenges, and build a support network that can make a huge difference in your day-to-day.
Nicole Shimer, OUTsight founding member: Creating a group like OUTsight demonstrates Insight’s commitment to inclusivity and helps Insight build community across the entire firm.
Joe DeBonis, OUTsight Co-founder: Insight Partners enthusiastically supporting the creation of OUTsight has been enormously meaningful to me—I think we are making a strong statement in the investing world, which can still sometimes feel like an unwelcoming space for openly queer folks to grow their career. We can use our strong foothold in the software ecosystem to role model what inclusive talent models and workplaces can look like.
Nikki Parker, OUTsight ally and member: I am immensely proud of the people who work at Insight. The impact that my peers have through the work that they do is impressive, and if they can be a little happier, a little better, a little more impactful because they are able to bring their authentic self to work each day, then I am proud to be a supporter of and ally of OUTsight.
How did OUTsight start?
Joe: As Insight Partners has enjoyed enormous growth over the last several years, the scale and diversity of our queer community has grown in tandem; formalizing this community is allowing us to connect across teams and backgrounds, provide mentorship to our junior team members embarking on their careers, and double down on our efforts to make Insight the most inclusive and supportive place to grow your career in tech investing. I saw the strength and success of these formalized communities at my previous firm and thought our team at Insight could benefit from something similar.
"...formalizing this community is allowing us to connect across teams and backgrounds, provide mentorship to our junior team members embarking on their careers, and double down on our efforts to make Insight the most inclusive and supportive place to grow your career in tech investing."
Alberto: Having an ERG group in my previous company was an invaluable part of my overall experience working there. When I joined Insight, the firm was quick to admit that it was still early on its DE&I journey compared to some other companies that have very established affinity networks. However, there was firm commitment from the Insight senior leadership team to support a broader range of DE&I initiatives across its many dimensions. As the firm continued to grow, and the number of LGBTQ+ employees also increased (a lot of it driven by concrete efforts to recruit diverse talent from underrepresented minorities), it became apparent that it was the right time to start an internal dialogue to raise awareness and ultimately get OUTsight started.
Pride month is widely recognized to the point where many in the community feel it has become overly commercialized. How can companies recognize LGBTQ+ history month?
Alberto: It's difficult to judge since each company is on its own DE&I maturity journey. However, I always refer back to 'authentic intent.' If changing logos during Pride month to include rainbow flags is the first step to start an honest conversation with their organizations and their impact in society, I think it’s a positive step. I don’t agree with using Pride and the LGBTQ+ community as a pure marketing tactic to chase the so-called ‘pink dollar,’ though. Especially when our community still faces real struggles in many regions and countries, including in the US. The LGBTQ+ community still needs the support of every ally to protect and maintain much of the progress that has been made in the recent past.
Nicole: Pride feels corporate when the support feels temporary or opportunistic. LGBTQ+ folks should be celebrated no matter the month and creating ERG groups like OUTsight builds opportunities year-round.
Joe: Many forms of corporate support and efforts to signal inclusion can be wonderful — but beyond parade sponsorships and rainbow branding, I believe companies would do better to recognize LGBTQ+ history month by (1) taking time to educate their teams and shine a spotlight on queer issues, (2) making visible and celebrating the success of their queer team members, and (3) diverting sponsorship dollars to the many nonprofit organizations that do incredible work on behalf of marginalized queer populations.
Who is one LGBTQ+ icon you admire? Why?
Alberto: I don’t have a particular LGBTQ+ icon. Instead, I have total admiration for every single LGBTQ+ person and ally that has contributed to making this world a more accepting and inclusive place. Billie Jean King comes to mind when I think of this group of people. And I always feel very grateful for those that came before us, and that took on individual and collective fights to establish the freedoms that many of us enjoy today. It must have taken lots of bravery and courage to spearhead this movement at a time when our community didn’t have a voice and was pushed to the fringes of society.
Joe: Visibility goes such a long way toward self-acceptance and the ability to say, “I, too, can achieve that”—for me, it is the handful of individuals at my high school, my college, and especially my first job out of undergrad who had the courage to be proudly out and open that I’ve admired most (and have been grateful for). Even a decade ago, that was a much smaller group of people than it would be today.
Any advice for those looking to start an ERG for the LGBTQ+ community in their workplace?
Joe: There are a few key questions to ask and build consensus around: Who is this ERG for? What can we achieve within our firm as an organized community that we can’t as individuals? How can we be inclusive in our mission and our goals, up to and including welcoming and engaging straight allies?
Alberto: I think it all starts with a conversation – although it’s important to remember that we are all on our own journeys and everyone is starting from a different place. Also, education and awareness at all levels is an important milestone on the path to starting an ERG group. And it always takes one brave person, like those that I alluded to earlier to take the first step and raise their hand when no one else does.
Nicole: My advice for those looking to start an ERG for LGBTQ+ community in their workplace would be to just do it! Even if the group starts as a few people who can get drinks every couple of months, it demonstrates a commitment to support more diverse members of the company.
What’s next for OUTsight?
Alberto: It’s early days for OUTsight, but I am very excited about our next global get-together towards the end of the year. I think it will be particularly impactful for those OUTsight members in our satellite offices. That being said, we also have bold and ambitious goals for the future. As the LGBTQ+ community at Insight continues to grow, we also have more passionate people that are keen to help us drive more initiatives within Insight and our broader ecosystem.
Nikki Parker and Nicole Shimer also contributed to this article.
OUTsight’s mission is to cultivate a welcoming space at Insight for all LGBTQ+ individuals through community building inside and outside of Insight, foster mentorship among members, and engage the broader LGBTQ+ community in the tech ecosystem and beyond. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org