Ep. 169 Leading with Pride: The Impact of MongoDB's Queer Collective

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This is a podcast episode titled, Ep. 169 Leading with Pride: The Impact of MongoDB's Queer Collective. The summary for this episode is: <p>Join Michael Lynn as he talks to Sean Carroll and Cian Walsh about the Queer Collective, MongoDB's affinity group for the LGBTQIA+ community and the importance of allyship and promoting inclusion in the workplace, specifically within the LGBTQIA+ community. They highlight the power of grassroots movements and the role of allies in driving positive change. The conversation touches upon key initiatives of the Queer Collective at MongoDB, including pride celebrations, educational events, and allyship training.</p><p><br></p><p>Sean shares personal experiences of how allyship has impacted his life, particularly in the context of the marriage equality referendum in Ireland and the fight for access to healthcare for women. He emphasizes that allyship is an ongoing action that involves supporting and uplifting others, challenging harmful behaviors, and continuously educating oneself about different communities.</p><p>Cian and Sean discuss the misconceptions around allyship, clarifying that it is more than just performative gestures or symbolic displays. True allyship requires self-reflection, education, and meaningful action to support marginalized communities. They also emphasize the financial and business benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace.</p><p><br></p><p>The conversation concludes with actionable steps for individuals who want to be allies, such as seeking education, amplifying marginalized voices, volunteering time or resources, and embracing the concept of intersectionality. They highlight the importance of creating an inclusive environment that recognizes and values individuals at the intersections of different identities.</p><p>Overall, this podcast episode provides valuable insights into allyship and how individuals can actively contribute to creating a more inclusive workplace for the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Listen for:</strong></p><p>[02:25&nbsp;-&nbsp;03:58] The Queer Collective at MongoDB</p><p>[07:34&nbsp;-&nbsp;10:47] The 4 key initiatives of Queer Collective</p><p>[11:00&nbsp;-&nbsp;15:49] The importance of true allyship</p><p>[16:13&nbsp;-&nbsp;21:20] How allyship has impacted Sean's life</p><p>[21:39&nbsp;-&nbsp;24:23] How to be a better ally</p><p>[24:52&nbsp;-&nbsp;28:28] Common misconceptions among allies</p><p>[31:46&nbsp;-&nbsp;36:03] Intersectionality and how to help employees promote it in the workplace</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Celebrating Pride at MongoDB: </strong><a href="https://www.mongodb.com/blog/post/celebrating-pride-mongodb" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.mongodb.com/blog/post/celebrating-pride-mongodb</a></p>
The Queer Collective at MongoDB
01:32 MIN
The 4 key initiatives of Queer Collective
03:13 MIN
The importance of true allyship
04:48 MIN
How allyship has impacted Sean's life
05:07 MIN
How to be a better ally
02:44 MIN
Common misconceptions among allies
03:35 MIN
Intersectionality and how to help employees promote it in the workplace
04:17 MIN

Speaker 1: ...hi, my name's Cian Walsh. I'm a corporate recruitment lead at MongoDB.

Speaker 2: Hi. My name is Sean Carroll. I'm a lead in the marketing analytics and operations team here at MongoDB, and welcome to MongoDB Podcast.

Speaker 3: Well, Cian and Sean, welcome to the MongoDB Podcast. It's great to have you on the show. How's everybody doing today?

Speaker 2: I'm doing good-

Speaker 1: Yeah, good-

Speaker 2: Can't complain, and yourself?

Speaker 1: The Monday after Pride weekend was a great weekend in Dublin. Wasn't it, Sean?

Speaker 2: Yeah, no, it was fantastic to see such a show of support, and it's probably been the biggest Pride parade that we've ever had. So seeing how the festival has grown, and particularly with everything that's going on in the world at the moment, to see that show of unity, and love, and solidarity was absolutely amazing, and the weather helped as well.

Speaker 1: Exactly. It's not often you get sun in Dublin, so no rain.

Speaker 3: Well, that's great. It's good to hear you had some great activities over the weekend. I don't know whether to say congratulations, or... What is the appropriate salutation for Pride?

Speaker 2: We normally just go with happy Pride.

Speaker 3: Happy Pride.

Speaker 2: It's something that I always feel it feels like a very special weekend. And this year even more so, because there's been so much hate, and the rise of inaudible inequality, and in a way it feels like we're moving backwards, but in Ireland, thankfully we're still bucking that trend. And to see the amount of different people out in the streets, from families, old people, young people, even when the parade passed through residential areas, to see so many people out in their balconies showing support for the queer community was absolutely amazing.

Speaker 3: Yeah. The MongoDB Queer Collective, we're going to talk about that, what it is. This came out of a desire on my part to learn how to become a better ally. And I know you've both done some content around this, you're heavily involved, you're in the Queer Collective at MongoDB, and it's a part of tech life, it's a part of life in general, so I think it's important to give space to this. So, welcome to the show. Let's get right into it. I'd like to ask Cian, maybe you can start, tell us about the Queer Collective.

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. The Queer Collective is what we call an employee resource group, for employees that are members of the LGBTQIA + community, and it is also open to allies as well. And I suppose, we currently have in and around 350 members, and we have chapters all the way from San Francisco to Sydney, so very much a global ERG. Some of our largest chapters, Dublin, where myself and Sean are based, New York, San Francisco, Austin, and India, in our inaudible office, is our fastest growing chapter. We have seen a lot of growth, particularly in the last three years. I suppose we've seen a lot of growth in member base. As MongoDB continues to grow, we've seen a lot of growth within our ERG. We are open to allies as well. I think roughly between around 25 to 30% of members of the Queer Collective are actually allies. And then we do have what is an affinity group called Queeries. So Queeries is sort of a closed group, just for members of the community. We recognize as ERG leads that not everybody is comfortable being out in the workplace, so we wanted to create a safe space or a safe area for those that aren't to look for advice, seek guidance, and just to chat to people that are just like them as well.

Speaker 3: Great. So Sean, tell us how the Queer Collective was created. How did this get formed?

Speaker 2: I think this is probably one of the proudest things I've done inside MongoDB. I'm a big proponent of grassroots movements, we've had a massive impact of grassroots movement on both underrepresented groups and for the LGBTQIA + community in Ireland. I'll tell you a little more about that later, but when I first joined MongoDB, one of the coolest things that happened to me when I came to the office, and sometimes starting in a new company, especially as a queer person, it can be really hard to come out at work,'cause you never know what people's reactions are. When my first day in the office, I came in, and there was loads of little Pride flags still left up around the office from Pride celebrations six months earlier, no one had just taken them down. And just having that, you instantly felt welcome. But at the time, there was mainly the Queeries affinity group, but it was U. S. centered, it hadn't really moved outside of U. S. at that time, just because MongoDB was still growing this company. But coming up to Pride then the following year, there was a group of us that came together to organize Pride in Dublin. But while the Queeries in The U. S. was a closed group, we also had allies support us and help organize the Pride celebrations in Dublin. Then we saw, actually, there is something here, there is something where there's interest from people, they want to learn, they want to help support the LGBTQIA + community in MongoDB, and that's where the start of the Queer Collective came from. So it came from, there was a group of us, myself, there was another... She's actually now on my team, Amy McKeon, Carl Daley, inaudible Friedrichs, and inaudible. And we all decided to start organizing some events, and we're like, " Actually, there might be something for this here in EMEA." And it kind of snowballed. Actually, when I say it snowballed, suddenly we were sitting in front of Dave, our CEO, and Michael Gordon as well, our CFO, justifying why we needed this. And then the whole thing snowballed around us, and it suddenly turned into one of the biggest ERGs in the company. So we had the initial Pride celebrations back in 2020, and then from that, we went on to organize a lot of more educational events, so International Coming Out Day, which was the official launch of the Queer Collective actually, and it's grown more and more since. Transgender Awareness Week, HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, and then we observed different periods as well throughout the year. But it kind of grew from this grassroots movement, and I think that was one of the things I loved about inaudible, it came from a place of care and a place of support, and it's actually had a massive impact since. We've even found people who've come and worked at MongoDB, because they were like, " This is a place where I can be myself. This is a place where I can be comfortable. I don't have to spend half of my time in work hiding who I am, or my personal life." Which is a huge part. I know people say you should leave your personal life at home inaudible and work. But not having to worry about, " Oh, if I mention that I have a same- sex partner, that someone's going to react differently, or is going to treat me differently, or I'm going to be stigmatized, or denied promotions or career advancement opportunities." Having that space and having that openness just to be yourself has a huge impact, and that's where the Queer Collective has really impacted as well.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So what are some of the key initiatives, Cian, that the Queer Collective has been involved in?

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. Our yearly planning kind of operates around four main initiatives. So Pride is sort of our main flagship one, National Coming Out Day in October, Trans Awareness Week in November, and then inaudible in December. So with all of these programs, all of these initiatives, we really focus around allyship, education, and celebration. So with allyship, it's involving everybody, not just members of the Queer Collective, not just your members of the LGBTQIA + community that work at MongoDB, but the wider employee base as well. Education, I suppose when it comes to allyship, I think it's important for anyone that wants to be an ally to enable them. So education in forms of workshops, talks, sort of giving information about the community, about the different aspects of the queer community as well. Because people don't know what they don't know, and I think for someone to be an effective ally, and for someone to feel comfortable to be an ally, they need that understanding, that knowledge, and that education. And then of course, the celebration aspect. Particularly around Pride, we have held celebration parties for... We had one in the Dublin office last week, there's one in our Paris and Barcelona offices this week, and I think by two weeks ago we had one in inaudible in India as well. So that's just to bring everybody together to celebrate how far the queer community has come, but also then to recognize that there is still work that needs to be done as well. And I think these are our four main things. For National Coming Out Day, we have done a lot of initiatives around... We did a Coming Out Day video, so we had I think 22 employees. Our production team flew all over the world, so they filmed in India, they filmed here in Dublin, they filmed in New York, in Austin, in San Francisco. And 22 of our employees really gave their coming out stories, and how much that meant to them to be... I think last year we did several watch parties globally, and the video was a huge success. It is available on our YouTube channel for anyone that wants to take a look. But that was one of the main key initiatives, and from that then we have done... Coming off that video, then we did, I think, two external articles. So myself and other members that were featured on the video did an interview with Attitude Magazine, which is the largest queer magazine in Europe. We also did some interviews with Diginomica as well, which is another sort of tech- focused publication. And then for Trans Awareness Week, we've really ran some workshops and information, particularly now given the current situation in The U. S., just to give some guidance to employees, to managers, just how to be an effective ally for the trans community. So it's really focused around those three pillars, allyship, education and celebration, and I suppose they're kind of the key things that we focus on throughout the year.

Speaker 3: So as I mentioned at the start, this episode came out of my desire to be a better ally, looking for ways that I can support the community. Sean, what does allyship mean to you?

Speaker 2: To be honest, allyship has a huge me in my life, and allyship is about support. It's about being able to stand up for other people, even when it's not beneficial for you, even when it's not that comfortable for you, and you're in an uncomfortable situation, it's providing that unconditional support to others to help uplift them, and to help them be able to live a more equal and equitable life. The thing is, with allyship, a lot of people think it's about, " Oh, during the month of June, I post a rainbow flag on my Facebook profile or Instagram profile." Whatever it may be. But I wouldn't really consider that allyship. It's a show of support, yes, but it's not true allyship. True allyship is being able to call out behaviors when you see them. If you see a friend, a family member, a co- worker, say something that is, in one way it's degrading, demeaning, or... For any underrepresented group really, but in this context, the LGBTQIA + community, being able to actually call that behavior out. Because we've seen this happen, especially over the last year, that there's a lot of these voices which seem to be screaming louder, and louder, and louder. And you would think looking at the media... God, go on Twitter, and you look and you'll see all of these voices screaming, the common sections are absolutely horrible to look at. And you think that, " Oh, this is becoming mainstream." But in reality, it's not. And if you don't call this behavior out, it perpetuates, it gets bigger, it gets louder. And so having allies that are willing to stand up for those around them, even though it doesn't benefit them, and have those uncomfortable conversations, it benefits everyone, but really, really helps the community that you're speaking up for. Because without allies, we wouldn't have the progress that we have today. Without allies to women for example, we wouldn't have a lot of the rights that we've seen, the equal rights inaudible. For the queer community, we wouldn't have equal marriage. And I know a lot of people say, " Oh, but why do we need Pride?" Pride is now, I think, even more important than any other time, because we need that show of solidarity, we need that visibility out there to show that we are all equal, that we all deserve to be treated the same as other people. And without allyship, we'd just keep regressing and going backwards. So our allies are... Sorry, I'm getting goosebumps inaudible'cause I'm quite passionate about this. Allies are, I think, one of the core pillars of our community, and they're also the way that we can achieve equality for everyone.

Speaker 3: Yeah. And I just want to remark, you mentioned it doesn't benefit the ally directly, but I think it does, we all benefit when people that are not in the community have the courage to speak up for those in the LGBTQIA + community. So Cian, why is it important, specifically in the workplace, to have allies?

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. So I think one of the visions of the Queer Collective is to create an atmosphere where people can be their authentic selves. I think as a queer person, and I think most queer people would have experienced or would've experienced some form of prejudice or discrimination in their lifetime. And it's not a nice experience, it can be a very difficult one. I think what we want to do with allyship, is to create a workplace where people can be their authentic selves. Because we want people to come to work every day without fear, they want pursue their best work, and that would not be possible without allyship. And that is across all underrepresented groups within MongoDB. So I think it's part of our mission, it's part of our vision as an ERG, and it ties in with that. So I think that's probably the main reason.

Speaker 2: There's one other point which I can actually add onto that as well, there are studies that have shown time and time again, the more diverse a company is, they're actually better, the more innovative that company is. So I think there was a study a couple of years ago, and it said that companies that had a more diverse workforce and more inclusive workforce were about 47% more innovative, and had, I think it was about 25% higher revenues, in comparison to companies that did not have a diverse workforce. So it actually makes financial sense as well, and from a business impact, it has a massive impact as well.

Speaker 1: Yeah, 'cause it's fresh perspectives, I suppose. Fresh ideas, and new perspectives on new markets as well.

Speaker 3: Yeah. Yeah, I like the idea of increasing the surface area for innovation, and bringing everyone's perspective to the forefront. So Sean, can you share some personal experiences around how allyship has had an impact in your life?

Speaker 2: Yeah, definitely. The biggest turning point for me when it came to allyship was, I wasn't really that involved in any sort of activism or anything like that, but back in 2015, Ireland became the first country in the world to actually vote on marriage equality. So the way that Ireland has constitutional referendum, the right to marriage is actually enshrined in a constitution. So if you have to change the constitution, you have to go to a referendum. So there was a massive referendum in 2015 to decide whether or not the wording in the constitution could be changed to allow for people of the same sex to get married. And that initiative was a huge grassroots initiative, and allies played a huge part in it. Because it wasn't the LGBTQIA + community that helped win that referendum to get that yes vote, it was actually driven through... It was, "Call your mommy, call your granny, call your auntie, call your uncle." It was to get all your family members involved, because it was true personal stories and personal connections that that referendum passed. And it was absolutely amazing, so it was won by landslide. We became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote. But it also changed the entire landscape within Ireland. I can still remember that day, and I was walking down the streets after... Well, I actually woke up, and I used to live right beside one of the counting centers. I remember just going inside there, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric, and it was filled with... There was a load of local politicians, there was members who'd be involved in the campaign, there was loads of allies inside there, and it was absolutely electric. And walking down the street after that, I was wearing inaudible badges at the time saying, "Yes for equality." And people were stopping me on the street just saying congratulations. And to have that show of support, that show of solidarity was absolutely amazing. And it still actually continued within Ireland from this day forward. So before that, I remember I never felt comfortable walking down the streets, holding hands on my partner, and then suddenly, I remember that day, I didn't even check myself. That probably seems like an unusual expression, but as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you take for granted, basically, a lot of things that... We don't take for granted, by the way, a lot of things that our straight counterparts would. So me holding hands, I would've stopped and looked around and seeing, "Who's around? Am I going to get attacked?" Just for showing a small sign of affection to my partner. And look, sometimes you still do check yourselves, but for the moment, Ireland became such a more comfortable and inclusive place, and it was all driven through allies, and the support that we got. Every year on the 25th of May, it comes back up in memories for me, and the people I see around me weren't... They were there in some way, but the majority of people around me were allies, and they drove that change. Their show of support, their show of unity helped us actually change Ireland for the better. And since then, it actually has only got better. And actually, that grassroots movement that allies helped build for the LGBTQIA+ community then transferred into another referendum, I think it was three years later, which was actually access to proper healthcare for women. So in Ireland, up until 2018, it was illegal to access abortion services, but that also had further implications. It was to do with women if they had a chance of death through pregnancy, they couldn't access any healthcare. And there was a case a number of years ago where a woman actually died, because the way the law was written was that the life of the fetus, as long as there was a heartbeat, was equal to that of the mother. So doctors' hands were tied, they couldn't do anything, even if there was a case, and like there was in that time, a woman was dying of septicemia caused by a... It was a miscarriage, but the doctors couldn't do anything, and then she ended up dying unnecessarily because she couldn't access that healthcare. But with the allyship kind of framework that was set up from the marriage equality referendum, people were able to campaign, using this grassroots movement again, it was called inaudible, and then we changed our constitution again, for betterment of women, and society as a whole, which was fantastic to see, and it was all because of allyship. And that's where it's had a huge impact in Ireland. I'm actually so proud of this little country, and the impact that our allies and our support network have actually had on people across the board.

Speaker 3: What a wonderful story. I love the story of traction that happens when you educate. And speaking of education, Cian, how do we educate folks that want to be better allies, both inside and outside of MongoDB?

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. So all of our sessions, everything that the Queer Collective runs, whether it is Pride celebrations, whether it is a talk on trans awareness, whether it's diversity and inclusion in the workplace workshop that we've done for Pride, it's open to everybody. And we sort of socialized this internally within MongoDB. We work with teams such as internal comms, benefits, learning development, and we really make all of our employees aware that this is open to them, and to come to learn about it. So for example, for Pride this year, we ran two sessions around trans awareness, and how can employees at MongoDB be better allies for the trans community. Another session was inclusion and intersectionality, which sort of give everybody a workshop on unconscious bias, how to address those biases. We're also doing workshops on pronouns. And also another workshop on the history of Pride, and where Pride stems from, and why Pride is a moment for celebration, but also it's a time to really focus on, yes, we've come so far as a community, but there's still a long way that we need to go. So that's some of the things we... They're open to all of our employee base. As I mentioned, the Queer Collective is also open to allies that want to join. And another thing that's been rolled out in MongoDB is allyship training. So all members of employee resource groups, ERGs, need to complete allyship training before they can join. It's available on Docebo, we actually ran two live sessions for allyship training as well as part of our Pride programming. So there are some of the things that we're doing. Members of the Queer Collective worked with our internal inclusion team to sort of help roll this out and work. Some of our members were involved in the recording for anyone that has taken part or will. Some of our members are the voices behind the camera for the training. So there are some of the things that we're doing. Allyship has really become a huge focus for, not only ERGs, but I suppose from a top-down, so our VP of inclusion, our senior manager for inclusion, they're all sort of here enabling ERGs, and now enabling allies as well to make MongoDB a workforce where everybody feels included in the workplace.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So as an ally, I will have to admit, I had some misconceptions about what that meant, and I have a couple of pins from conferences that say I'm an ally, and I display those proudly. But it's not just that, and I'm sure there are many more misconceptions. Sean, maybe enlighten me. Tell me, what are some of the misconceptions that you see commonly among allies?

Speaker 2: The thing about allyship, it's not a single action, it's an ongoing action, focusing on other people and not on yourself. And so a lot of people think to be an ally, you have to be continually out there, you have to be continually professing, and be really loud. But it's not just us, if anything nearly, I see the people who are really loud, basis, it can be quite performative, but they don't actually do anything meaningful for the community. There also can be a lot of platitudes towards the different communities that don't actually make a difference. But the thing about allyship though is that firstly you need start with an examination of who you are to better understand what power, and privilege, and access you have as an individual that those other groups don't have. Then it's about helping educate yourself about that community, and some of this can come from the community, some of this can be self- directed learning. And then it's actually learning how to put that learning into meaningful actions that actually do help. It can be from helping uplift and amplify other voices inside the community. It can be about willing to actually being comfortable with becoming uncomfortable, and actually step up and speak out when you see those inequalities towards that community. What allyship isn't is it's not just putting in... Or a price flag here, or a red ribbon on for International Women's Day. It's not just that, it's about willing to take that next step. It's about firstly educating yourself, then being willing to educate others around you. Sometimes you're not going to get it right, you definitely won't get it right every time. It's also being willing to go, " Okay..." Acknowledge that you're wrong, but just apologize, and move on as well. The sad thing about it is that a lot of people in some ways are nearly afraid of allyship, because they're like, " Oh, what if I get it wrong? What if I nearly put myself out there, and I get kind of given out for it?" But the thing about allyship is that as long as you're willing to nearly get uncomfortable with yourself so that you can use your privilege to support others, that is what true allyship is nearly about. It's not something performative. It's not having to be about screaming from the rooftops every single day. It's not about making empty gestures that go nowhere. It's about being there as nearly a support for other people, a support for that community when they need it, and also being willing to step up for them when they themselves don't even know that they need us. So I think that might have been a small rambling for what allyship means. I know I kind of crossed over there between what's not and what is, but I think they're both heavily intertwined, and you need to understand one to understand the other.

Speaker 3: I appreciate the words you said around having the courage to just try to be an ally, and that means a lot to me, because I certainly want to help. So Sean, are there any specific actionable things that folks that want to be allies can do?

Speaker 2: Firstly, the thing is education. Like what we do in the Queer Collective, we do organize educational events year- round. We try and take advantage of them. There's also, in your locality, there is more than likely going to be local groups that actually provide these educational resources. Then once you get past that stage, the next stage is actually being willing to get involved if you can. That can be true, a small way of, like I said before, amplifying queer voices. It can be donating towards these groups that do fantastic work inside local communities. There's one that we have that we use for different educational events that I can using an example called ShoutOut in Ireland, which again, was a grassroots organization, which has grown over time, and they provide educational resources to schools to help actually tackle homophobia in schools with young people, and help them actually understand people from different backgrounds. But just being able to even give them financial support if you can. Or even finally, actually getting in there, and actually getting involved. And I know it can be fearful, especially if you're not part of the community, going... But that support is so valued, because we're a small community, we're 10% of the population, but for whatever reasons, not everybody is comfortable coming out, not everyone is comfortable with being visible. But having those additional 90% of people to be allies to that community, suddenly those numbers amplified quite quickly. And being willing to get involved to step up and whatever way you can and make support. These small changes have such a massive impact. I always think about this in the context of the domino effect, and if you go back into the Simpsons, and they're like, " Oh, you step in the boat and you change the future." But it's the same kind of ideology if you think about it. All these little small changes, like you give a dollar here towards an organization, you volunteer an hour in another, all of these things collectively actually make a change, and then you can really help those communities around you. It's little things, but little things make changes, it doesn't have to be big.

Speaker 3: Butterfly effect, but I love The Simpsons.

Speaker 2: That's what I was looking for. That's the-

Speaker 3: But I love the Simpsons reference.

Speaker 2: inaudible I was looking for. That was the term I was looking for.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So as I prepared for this discussion, I did some reading, I read a bunch of the content that's been made available internally to MongoDB, and I began to see a word, intersectionality. It's not something that I've heard quite a bit. So Sean, what is intersectionality, and how can employees help promote intersectionality in the workplace?

Speaker 2: So basically intersectionality, there's proper academic definitions of what intersectionality actually is, but a simpler way of taking about is, within each of us, we have overlapping pieces of who we are. So the way in which then those intersections happen for each of us changes in the way in which we perceive the world, while also how the world perceives us. So there's different categorizations, for example, there can be race, class, gender, sexuality, gender identification, and depending on how they apply to each of us, they create a different overlapping effect, and then as a result, the world can perceive us in different ways. But intersectionality though is a really interesting term, because it's kind of... A way of thinking about it, it's not a one- size- fits- all. So one thing about allyship is to think of the true lens of intersectionality as well. So just because something works perfectly here in Ireland, where a lot of people are coming from a similar race, they have similar cultural backgrounds, doesn't mean that that will work the exact same in The U.S., it doesn't mean that that will work the exact same in India. Depending on where you are in the world, and who those people are, you might need to change things ever so slightly, or change it dramatically for it to actually have an impact. So the good thing about being an ally is to just kind of keep that lens on it when you're looking at these things. If you're a manager, and you're planning for your team, if you are a company, and you're planning the rollout of new initiatives, think about how the different people that are around you perceive things differently, and what might work for one, might not work for the other. Does that make sense, or that a... Yeah, just wondering from your perspective.

Speaker 3: No, no, yeah. No, from my perspective, it does. It's about a thoughtful approach to allyship, and as you mentioned, understanding what works where, and thinking about that ahead.

I think one of the best examples about it actually is, if you're in a company, it's quite like, "Look..." I'm going to use a startup. So in a startup, traditionally, a lot of them... Actually, I'm going use Facebook as an example. I'm going to use Facebook. Facebook started as a startup, came out Harvard, and it came out as a group of people in the very early 20s. If you were to look at that group at the time and see what they needed, a lot of them, they were willing to have fun, they could work these crazy hours, they didn't have to think about it. But fast-forward 10, 15 years later, a lot of those people now had families, they now had children. What did they actually need in that context? Put that little lens in it and think about, okay, in that case, 15 years ago, we were able to give them really comfortable offices, we were able to give them food all day round, and basically keep them there all day working. But fast-forward 15 years later, and what they actually needed was support systems to be parents, and to be able to actually still fulfill within their functions as parents, without the same things that they would need 15 years ago. So in the context of allyship, if you use that lens, if you have people who are in Ireland, they might need a lot of awareness activities, they might need things about transgender community, for example. Whereas if you were to go into, just say, into some parts of Asia, or actually in Africa, where there is a lot of areas where homosexuality is still criminalized, do they need a broad scale awareness? Do they need support? What do they need there? It'll completely change the way you will see allyship there, depending on the needs of that community. And that's all because of the different intersections that they have.

Speaker 3: Yeah. So as I'm learning, preparing to become a better ally, what are the different types of allyship that you're seeing?

Speaker 2: So the thing about allyship is, and we actually spoke in this during the MongoDB inaudible back in 2021, and we talked about allyship to active accomplish it. And we just used that as a framework for people to think about the different types of allyship that there is, and the different ways in which you could actually help the community. So the ones we said were a passive ally, basically they were a supportive association, not really vocal, but you are supportive to the community, you know the basic concepts, but you don't really act on it, either for yourself or for others. Then we use active accomplice, which is active allyship. So at this stage, you would be well- informed, so really know about the community that you're trying to support. You really share then this knowledge with others around you, and they kind of seek diverse and inclusive ways of working and living when asked or prompted. So this person would start to be really accountable, hands- on, and then get involved. And then you have what we would call the really strong allies. So this is a person who's a change- maker. They are hired, and an active ally, or active inaudible. They're the people who are really committed to routinely and proactively dismantling societal issues that impact the groups while kind of inaudible inclusion as well in those ways. And the thing is, you don't have to be these every single day of your life, there'll be different times in your life when you'll be able to support groups. So I'm going to go back to the example I used earlier, which was about the marriage equality referendum. At that time, so many people I know around me, I would class them as those kind of change makers. They worked night and day to really help push forward the marriage equality referendum. And then after a while that was draining, it can be quite tiring to go through that over a prolonged period of time. So they went back to being more of a passive ally. And then again, a lot of those actually got involved with the repeal referendum. And then at different times their life, depending on what's going on, they will go through different tiers of the allyship.

Speaker 3: And it seems to all begin with the employee resource group. Cian, I want to ask you to explain what an ERG is, and maybe speak to the listeners that are thinking about forming an ERG at their company.

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. So an ERG is an employee resource group. So it's a volunteer employee- led group, which are run by members of underrepresented groups. And what the main aim of an ERG is to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce. So most ERGs, as I mentioned, they sort of align with underrepresented groups. We have 11 of them here at MongoDB, and I suppose the main aim of an ERG is to provide members with a sense of belonging in the workplace, a sense of psychological safety, a place where they can turn to in terms of a... Foster a sense of community as well, a place where they can turn to for advice, a place they can turn to for support if needed, professional development opportunities, and also opportunities then to grow their network. The Queer Collective, as I mentioned, one of 11, we are funded by the company to carry out the programs that we do. As I mentioned, we are one of 11, there are... I think MongoDB, from all the companies I've worked with in my career, I think seems to have a huge focus on ERGs, and their developments within the workplace. So for anyone that is looking to set up an ERG, I think it's a wonderful opportunity to meet people across your organization, not just within your team. And I think from my own perspective, not only do I work in a company that is accepting of who I am as a queer man, as a member of an underrepresented group, but I feel lucky that I'm part of a company that celebrates it, because the support, the guidance that's given to the ERGs here really sends that message back that the company, MongoDB, celebrates us for who we are, and our individualities.

Speaker 3: I want to remind viewers, listeners that there are links in the show notes in the description below, check those if you want to learn more about the Queer Collective, about employee resource groups. Cian, can you share some upcoming plans for the Queer Collective?

Speaker 1: Yes. So National Coming Night Day is in October, so we are going to partner again with some of our employer branding team just to create some content. So last year, as I mentioned, we did a video with some of our employees that talked about the importance of coming out, and the importance of being your full authentic self in the workplace. So we do plan to do maybe some talks and panels, where members of the Queer Collective will share their experiences, as again, that is open to all employees, so there is a chance for anyone that is interested in learning more to come along. As I mentioned, working with our employer brand team to capture that message, just to amplify our voices on a larger scale. So we have blogs on the company website, we plan to do more of those as well, and I think we would probably do some watch parties for our video again in our offices this year. So that's the next key celebration. I think, November, then will be Trans Awareness Week, and we'll focus mainly on talks and workshops just to provide education for all of our employees on how to be effective allies to the trans community. Yeah, there are some of the things, so exciting stuff.

Speaker 3: Some really exciting stuff. We've got employees in MongoDB, listening, watching. Let's talk to the folks that want to get involved in the Queer Collective at MongoDB, how can we get them involved? To both of you.

Speaker 1: Yeah, absolutely. Well, look, for anyone that wants to join the Queer Collective, either as a member of the LGBTQIA + community or even as an ally, as I mentioned, we are open to allies. The first thing to do is to complete the online allyship training on the Docebo, and that will actually bring you through then to sign up to... Once you complete the training, you are then automatically given the option of what ERGs you want to join, and then that will add you to the Slack channel. So we'll keep for those ERGs, so that'll keep you up to date with any events that we're doing, as I mentioned... Or if anyone has any questions, or wants to find out a little bit more about it, you can find us on Zendesk internally as well, or even just drop me or Sean a Slack, I'm sure we'll be happy to help in any way we can.

Speaker 3: Sean, anything add to that?

Speaker 2: Yeah, I wanted to say, a really cool thing that has actually come out of that as well is that just by being part of the ERG, it's a forum... I know sometimes we say not every person of the community is there to educate you, but I think as being particularly leads inside the Queer Collective, we are there to educate you. So we want to have that forum that if people have these questions, if they need that support, if they need to find out anything really about the LGBTQIA + community, then ask. We want to be a supportive forum. Actually, there's one example I can think of, where someone was coming out, and we were able to actually offer support for them. They were in an area that they didn't have anyone around them that they could ask, but that's what the ERG became for them. And they suddenly became very, very comfortable in themselves, and it became that bit of a support network for them. And thankfully it was there as a resource for them to use, and that's what I want people to think about as well. It's not just something that's there, as I said in the past, that's performative, it's not just a reorganized Pride event, we also want to be there as a resource for all employees within on MongoDB.

Speaker 3: Well, we're just about out of time. Cian, Sean, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. You've enlightened me, and I'm sure that you've shared really important information for the listeners. Any last words before we wrap?

Speaker 2: I just want to say thank you so much for giving us this forum, for allowing us to actually have this platform. I know it can be a fearful step sometimes, but for actually taking the step towards being a better ally as well.

Speaker 1: Yeah, and plus one to that. And thank you so much for having us today, Mike. And just, again, for anyone that wants to get more involved, please feel free to reach out. And Mike, I hope to see you at some of our events. We'll keep you posted.

Speaker 3: Thanks so much. Thanks again.

Speaker 2: Thanks, Mike.

Speaker 1: Thank you.


Join Michael Lynn as he talks to Sean Carroll and Cian Walsh about the Queer Collective, MongoDB's affinity group for the LGBTQIA+ community and the importance of allyship and promoting inclusion in the workplace, specifically within the LGBTQIA+ community. They highlight the power of grassroots movements and the role of allies in driving positive change. The conversation touches upon key initiatives of the Queer Collective at MongoDB, including pride celebrations, educational events, and allyship training.

Sean shares personal experiences of how allyship has impacted his life, particularly in the context of the marriage equality referendum in Ireland and the fight for access to healthcare for women. He emphasizes that allyship is an ongoing action that involves supporting and uplifting others, challenging harmful behaviors, and continuously educating oneself about different communities.

Cian and Sean discuss the misconceptions around allyship, clarifying that it is more than just performative gestures or symbolic displays. True allyship requires self-reflection, education, and meaningful action to support marginalized communities. They also emphasize the financial and business benefits of fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

The conversation concludes with actionable steps for individuals who want to be allies, such as seeking education, amplifying marginalized voices, volunteering time or resources, and embracing the concept of intersectionality. They highlight the importance of creating an inclusive environment that recognizes and values individuals at the intersections of different identities.

Overall, this podcast episode provides valuable insights into allyship and how individuals can actively contribute to creating a more inclusive workplace for the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.