As technology continues to change how we get work done (mobile banking, fraud detection, machinery maintenance, telehealth, etc.) we ourselves as humans are evolving as well. Enterprises across all industries are elevating diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) as top priorities and core tenets for business success because what is a company without the people? At Pega, Inclusivity is one of our core values and we are committed to providing our employees opportunities to grow, providing them a sense of community and connection and creating an environment where all employees can celebrate their genuine selves.
Hello! We are Joe Johnson (Director of Technology, GTM at Pega and Communications Lead for Pride@Pega ) and Kathryn Fitzgerald (Cloud Security Program Manager at Pega and Pride@Pega Global Co-Chair). We attended the 2022 Out and Equal Workplace Summit and are excited to share our experiences from this event, and how we can leverage the emerging trends and takeaways to support the DEI&B strategy at Pega.
Team Pega at the Out & Equal Summit 2022: Joe Johnson, Charlie Keating, Andy Huang, and Kathryn Fitzgerald
As we walked into the Out & Equal Summit registration area, we felt an overwhelming sense of pride in being at this event. We are thankful and appreciative that Pega sponsored and encouraged our attendance. It wasn’t about pride flags; it was about representation and visibility.
The showroom floor hosted over 50 companies showcasing and promoting how their LGBTQIA+ ERGs & BRGs (Employee Resource Group & Business Resource Groups) were making a difference within their respective organizations. Looking around we saw The US Government, Wells Fargo, and many more Pega clients! We garnered connections with many of our client LGBTQIA+ ERGs, received advice on amazing ways to increase communication within the Pride@Pega ERG, and so much more!
ERG Work + Career Path = Leadership Success
At the conference, there was a lot of mentions around our “gay jobs” and our “day jobs” since so many of us volunteer our time for ERGs (employee resource groups) or other community activities, while also working in our career path of choice.
For me, my “gay jobs” are co-chair of Pride@Pega, as well as Interim Events Co-Liaison. I also spend many hours mentoring other LGBTQ+ friends, family, and network connections as they march along their career journey. My “day job” is Cloud Security Program Manager within TSO (Technology Services Operations) at Pega, as well as a student in the Masters of Cybersecurity part-time education program at Georgia Tech. At Pega and throughout my life, I strive to bridge between my “gay jobs” and my “day jobs” as much as possible – I often find that what makes me different, also makes me a better leader, a better partner, a better teammate, and makes life FUN.
Andy Huang (Diversity Talent Attraction Partner at Pega) with Joe Johnson, and Kathryn Fitzgerald
Many of the speakers talked about how to sustain our energy and passion as leaders and changemakers.
Tituss Burgess, an actor and speaker (from the show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), shared his story of growing up as a gay and BIPOC (Black and Indigenous People of Color) in a Southern State of the U.S. He reminded us that we have senses of self – the person inside our heart and soul, and the person we show to everyone else. He expressed the importance of “Be kind to the person inside yourself”. He also shared a story of advice he was given on how to make every night of a Broadway show feel as fresh, energetic, and special as opening night. His strategy is remembering that it could be someone’s first time ever seeing a Broadway show, and to remember how important that experience may be for them, particularly if they’re LGBTQ+ and see their truth reflected on stage.
Another memorable session was hosted by Heidi Fosnaught, Cybersecurity Communications Officer for the NSA (National Security Agency) within the U.S. Government. Heidi shared that “inclusion is an action”, not a stationary noun, not a buzzword, and requires ongoing conversations, time, and resources to truly achieve. Inclusion involves walking in someone else’s shoes and like a fish swimming in a bowl, understanding that there are all types of environments out there and you may not see that the water in your fishbowl is dirty or clean until you swim in someone else’s. Heidi shared a workshop training framework she developed, entitled “Privilege Decrypted”, which allows leaders and the broader employee community at the NSA to examine what life may look like from someone else’s viewpoint and learn how to be better allies.
We also attended sessions on Increasing Engagement, Visibility, Community Investment/Volunteerism, Tackling LGBTQIA Discrimination, LGBTQIA Leadership, and building corporate coalitions. A standout example was with Google who partnered with The Trevor Project to help Analyze Suicide Risk level and prioritize those in the queue using artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). This is a real-world example of how Pega software could potentially be leveraged. Maybe there is a way we can collaborate and partner with our clients Pride ERG groups to help deliver meaningful change! Something to explore in the year to come!
The moment we walked in on Day 1 and felt the energy and excitement of being truly unstoppable!
Emerging trends and takeaways from Out and Equal:
- Intersectionality. Working across ERGs will help amplify DEI&B messages by driving increased engagement. As an ERG we have a certain reach, however, collectively working together in a unified way, increases that visibility immensely.
- Representation Matters. Seeing others across the organization, especially in leadership positions, helps drive engagement, advancement, and longevity within the organization.
- Power of Storytelling. We met with several ERGs where they were showcasing the voices and stories of their members/allies to drive greater awareness of issues faced by the LGBTQIA+ community. This included sharing and documenting (written and visual) coming out stories.
- Power of Allyship! We need everyone for this journey!
- Education – Employee Engagement, LGBTQIA+ Leadership, ERG Programming (events),Trans Rights, Anti-Trans Bills, Inclusive Benefits, Inclusion, and Community Engagement. (These are some of the topics we addressed in session I (Joe) attended.
- The importance of being visible. Visibility is Essential!
- Our differences make us powerful! Lets embrace them!
- The power of listening.
- Networking, Networking, and more Networking!
I am leaving the conference inspired about all that we as the LGBTQIA+ community have accomplished and in reflection, what we as an ERG have been able to accomplish! I am more educated on many different topics including Transgender Rights, Community Engagement, Employee Engagement and the Power of Sharing! I have a list of ideas a mile long! Also, I left the conference having been able to represent Pega and engage with several members of our Pride@Pega Leadership team. We talked, discussed, debated, reflected, brainstormed, laughed and started thinking about the future of our ERG!. We also had a little fun along the way!
Individually we are strong, unified we are UNSTOPPABLE!