How Austin’s Tech Scene Is Celebrating Pride and Supporting the LGBTQIA+ Community

Pride takes place in June, but for these companies, the celebration and activism continues year-round.
Written by Adrienne Teeley
June 3, 2021Updated: June 3, 2021

It’s become a trend for companies to beef up their marketing efforts during June, using vibrant rainbow colors to showcase their support of the LGBTQIA+ community. But beyond the advertisements, billboards and sponsored floats, one might still wonder: Are these companies actually doing anything to invest in equality?

While not every company is truly working to push the needle forward, many are. Invitae, for example, is using its position as a healthtech company to enact change on a large scale: Among other initiatives, the company recently restructured the order and reporting of its genetic tests to be more inclusive of patients who are transgender and gender non-conforming. 

For another example of a local company committed to equality, look to Social Solutions, which says it offers internal support to LGBTQIA+ employees through an ERG and comprehensive healthcare benefits, and is rolling out opportunities for community involvement and volunteering for the entire company to take part in. 

To see just how effective these actions can be on a micro and macro scale, Built In Austin connected with Invitae and Social Solutions. We learned what allyship can look like when done right, and what meaningful steps other companies can take to ensure their employees and the greater community are better heard, supported and celebrated. 

 

Joseph Ferreri
Senior Financial Analyst & ERG Member

Social Solutions builds software to help nonprofits manage data and operate more efficiently. 

 

How is your company celebrating Pride throughout the month of June? 

Our employee resource group, internally known as our “Champions of Change,” sends out monthly newsletters for the purpose of educating on social topics of interest. For the month of June, our newsletter is focused on celebrating Pride, LGBTQIA+ history, and highlighting local and national resources for the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as key organizations that our employees can choose to volunteer with. Furthermore, our ERG will host our monthly diversity, equity and inclusion forum focused on Pride and key issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community.

As a global organization with offices around the world, we will highlight Pride celebrations in Austin, as well as in Waterloo, Canada, and Adelaide and Melbourne, Australia — even if the celebrations there don’t take place in the month of June. 

On a more social note, Social Solutions will host a virtual Pride happy hour event featuring Drag Bingo, and we highlight how our employees are celebrating Pride, individually and in their community.

 

Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Social Solutions supports the LGBTQIA+ community in many ways beyond the month of June. We will soon be offering virtual volunteer opportunities with organizations focused on the health and well-being of members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, we will be highlighting the voices of community leaders by inviting subject-matter experts to engage with our employees in a lunch-and-learn setting.  

By virtue of our company’s social good mission, we have built technology for groups supporting youth, homelessness and refugee services, and health organizations around the world that support the betterment of the LGBTQIA+ community.

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team? 

Specific to our Social Solutions community, we have resources focused on DE&I broadly, and our leadership team fully supports our voluntary, employee-led ERG. Aside from monthly DE&I newsletters and forums, our ERG is creating opportunities for company mentorship and community-specific communication channels.

As a company, we have progressive health and well-being benefits that are available to same-sex couples. Our equality learning fund is available to all employees as a way for the company to fund self-education and learning on a variety of equality topics, including LGBTQIA+ education, at the discretion of each employee.

 

Rachael Fish
Pride ERG co-lead

Invitae aims to make it easier for users to access their genetic information to make more informed healthcare decisions.

 

How is your company celebrating Pride throughout the month of June? 

We have a treasure trove of celebrations planned to highlight the LGBTQIA+ community at Invitae. Here is how we’re acknowledging and honoring the community for the month of June:

  • Flying the Invitae Pride flag at our SF headquarters
  • Online virtual dance class to get moving together
  • DIY crafty happy hour
  • LGBTQIA+ trivia contest
  • Month-long fundraising for LGBTQIA+ organizations

 

How Invitae supports the greater LGBTQIA+ community

  • Fundraising for the LGBTQIA+ community
  • Proudly wears Invitae swag throughout the year with the company’s pride logos
  • Restructured the ordering and reporting of genetic tests from Invitae’s website to be more inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming patients
  • Wrote a Human Rights Campaign letter that stands in opposition to state legislature that is anti-LGBTQIA+ communities
  • Holds ongoing roundtable discussions with members of the LGBTQIA+ communities 

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team? 

We have an employee resource group (ERG) whose mission is to provide a safe space for LGBTQIA+ individuals and allies to connect, support one another and foster inclusion internally and externally at Invitae. We’ve established frameworks for LGBTQIA+ employees to feel affirmed and accepted within the workplace, or when transitioning at work, coming out in the workplace, sharing their pronouns and more.

We plan community table talks around transgender people in the workplace and how you can be an ally, host roundtables, and present at conferences such as Lesbians Who Tech, to better hire from within the LGBTQIA+ community. We’re also working on Invitae’s roadmap to be included on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

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