Addressing the elephant in the room

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Addressing the elephant in the room

By Daniel Carvallo, UX/UI Designer and referent for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Coderio.

My day usually starts at 7 AM where the early bird instincts sadly won’t allow me to wake up later and my cat daughter threatens to throw all my belongings from the shelves if I don’t feed her. After a big breakfast, binge-watching an episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and a cup of coffee, I am ready to start my day as a UX / UI Designer. I haven’t had the experience to go to an office, I have only worked remotely but I figure that the social interactions must be probably the same: many questions about the weather, one or two birthdays and cute pet pictures.

These types of social interactions are completely fine, of course, but they also make me more aware, for some reason, of all the things going on in the world for the LGBTQIA+ community. It takes a lot of effort to always bring your best self to your life and work, and the challenge becomes a bit harder when you have to deal with this societal added pressure by yourself, at home, without the help of peers who can understand you and your struggle. But what if you could have safe spaces to talk about these subjects within the framework of a company?

ERG: a place for support & representation

There’s no wonder why enforcing connection and safe spaces in your companies can have such a positive impact and that’s why it’s becoming more important -if not mandatory- to create Employee Resource Groups (ERG). An ERG is nothing more than a group of people inside an organization aligned with a similar point of view, interest, topic or belief. It’s by far the most natural of our impulses: to create communities and to socially interact with people who think the way you do.

With an ERG for diversity and inclusion, things may get a bit complicated. It shouldn’t, of course, but plurality often means the collision between communities that don’t see topics the same way. Fortunately, there are ways to have conversations about diversity and inclusion that protect the integrity and human rights of the LGBTQIA+ community while allowing the other party to not feel discriminated against or signaled by having an outdated or judgmental opinion about us.

If you ever encounter yourself having a debate about diversity and inclusion subjects or you’re trying to come up with ways to have better conversations in your ERG, here are some simple things to keep in mind:

  • Separating the idea from the individual

    It may happen that an individual has an idea about a subject that may not necessarily be aligned with diversity and inclusion values. Confronting these situations can be difficult, but if you consider that the idea in itself is not inherent in the identity of the person, you start understanding that ideas may vary and change. If you approach a conversation by making sure the other party knows that they won’t be judged by their ideas, you might avoid unnecessary defensiveness.
  • Setting up the groundwork

    The first minutes of a conversation can determine the whole atmosphere of the encounter. It’s clear that you will never be able to control the result of a conversation but it’s always important to prepare the terrain so everybody feels welcomed, heard and connected.
  • Curiosity is key

    Going along with the previous points, everyone needs to be in a curious mindset, without judgment and open. It’s important that people feel welcomed to share their perspective. Oftentimes people have no means to offend anyone but they don’t usually have the space to confront their ideals with others who can properly explain actual facts that could change their perspective. I do need to point out that no conversation should put in question the validity of our existence. The LGBTQIA+ community exists and we are worthy of respect and no one can take our human rights away from us. As long as everyone understands this, a good and fruitful conversation can take place.

That feeling of powerlessness that I sometimes feel whenever I ponder all the work and effort that needs to be put into seeking equality for the LGBTQIA+ community may not fully be gone, but having a space, even if it’s just a virtual channel in a company, seems like a single step that may help in making us more visible. There’s nothing like feeling heard and safe, it’s not only a necessity but a right to any community that only wants to be able to express their love and pride.

For this reason, at _coderio we created a free and supportive space for people from the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as those who feel identified with our message of empathy and active listening.

The coderian committee

The Coderio diversity and inclusion commission arises from the need to strengthen ties in the team, and provide a space of security and trust for its members. 

The ERG is formed by members of the company who share their interest to partake in activities that invite conversation, and also to propose and face common projects.

Despite its recent creation, the coderian committee has already carried out actions aimed at building proper foundations for the work there is to come. That’s why we recently participated in a workshop to create and establish our mission and vision statements:

#Vision

To be a benchmark inside and outside the company within the framework of diversity and inclusion that generates spaces for growth and improvement of the work environment.

#Mission

Generate a community of visibility and contention for our members, as well as a space to share different queer experiences that help to understand the equality of all people, free of any prejudice.

Pride all year 

The 30th anniversary of the first pride march in Argentina is an excellent opportunity to remember that visibility and representation are essential in all types of spaces, specially in work environments. But it is necessary -and urgent- to put it into practice throughout the year.

The path to diversity and inclusion still has a long way to go. However, by looking back and visualizing the thousands of people who have given their lives so that today an article like this can even be considered, we can understand why we speak of “pride”.

Today there are many of us feeling this way and we are not willing to be diverted from our road. 

By Daniel Carvallo, UX / UI Designer and referent for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at Coderio.

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    © 2023 coderio_ LLC. All rights reserved.