Introducing Proudflare, Cloudflare's LGBTQIA+ Group
Below is an article originally written by Andrew Fitch at PowerToFly Partner Cloudflare, and published on July 12, 2018. Go to Cloudflare's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
With Pride month now in our collective rearview mirror for 2018, I wanted to share what some of us have been up to at Cloudflare. We're so proud that, in the last 8 months, we've formed a LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group (ERG) called Proudflare. We've launched chapters and monthly activities in each of our primary locations: San Francisco, London, Singapore, and Austin. This month, we came out in force! We transformed our company's social profiles, wrapped our HQ building in rainbow window decals, highlighted several non-profits we support, and threw a heck of an inaugural Pride Celebration.
We're a very young group — just 8 months old — but we have big plans. Check out some of our activities and future plans, follow us on social media, and consider starting an ERG at your company too.
The History of Proudflare
On my first day at Cloudflare in October, 2017, I logged into Hipchat and searched LGBTQ. Fortunately for me, there was a "LGBT at Cloudflare" chat room already created, and I started establishing connections right away. I found that there had been a couple of informal group outings, but there was no regular activity, sharing of resources, nor an official group. Proudflare was born that day, and the ball kept rolling.
Our first official event was a Lunch & Discussion in December. We had a gathering of eleven Cloudflare employees around lunch to discuss articles about LGBTQIA+ issues in tech. We unanimously agreed to continue holding events like this and form an ERG.
Here are the first two articles we discussed:
Once we established a regular structure of events, we started introducing Proudflare to our other locations. In March, we held our first SF mixer with LGBTQIA+ ERGs from other tech companies. We decided we wanted to fully announce the group to the whole company during Pride month, so we sent out an email to the entire company introducing Proudflare and gave presentations at our All Hands meeting.
All of Cloudflare welcomed us and embraced us as their first ERG.
Our Pride month activity
Our Austin chapter held its second Lunch & Discussion event, where Cloudflare employees got together to discuss how to write more inclusive job descriptions. They also discussed ideas for a Pride celebration and announced the first Proudflare service day, where the group will take time off to volunteer at a LGBTQIA+ youth organization.
The London chapter held its third Lunch & Discussion event, where the group brainstormed better processes for welcoming new employees to the London office, supporting them with resources, and making Proudflare a more salient part of the office culture. They also began planning their first Pride Celebration, which will take place after London Pride this July.
The Singapore chapter held its first event this month and was overwhelmed with support. A group of twenty-five Cloudflarians gathered to learn how they may make the Singapore office inclusive and supportive of LGBTQIA+ individuals. They discussed articles about LGBTQIA+ issues in Singapore and started planning their first external event in support of Pink Dot's PinkFest.
At our headquarters, where roughly half of our global employee base is located, we felt it important to really make an impact. We wrapped our SOMA offices with rainbow window decals, organized a contingent to march with Bluegrass Pride in the parade, and renamed Cloudflare to "Proudflare".
We also held a Lunch & Discussion event where we shared stories of what Pride means to each of us and hosted our inaugural Pride Celebration, where we welcomed one hundred sixty people into our space to learn about nonprofits we believe in and celebrate with us.
Here are the nonprofits we highlighted:
The Trevor Project: Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13–24.
We're honored to support the Trevor Project with Cloudflare's Project Galileo. Organizations working on behalf of the arts, human rights, civil society, or democracy, can apply for Project Galileo to get Cloudflare's highest level of protection for free.
Rainbow Railroad: In response to the confirmed reports of abductions, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and deaths targeting over 200 gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately went into action to assist those in danger. Rainbow Railroad has been working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental organization currently leading the campaign to rescue those facing danger in Chechnya.
Project Open House: Openhouse enables San Francisco Bay Area LGBT seniors to overcome the unique challenges they face as they age by providing housing, direct services, and community programs. As a result, they have reduced isolation and empowered LGBT seniors to improve their overall health, well-being, and economic security.
We're a new ERG and we've come a long way in a short amount of time, but we have a lot more planned. Here are some projects we're currently working on:
- Hosting an event in support of Pink Dot in Singapore
- Hosting Pride Celebration events in Austin
- Inserting a presentation about inclusion and ERGs in our new hire orientation
- Supporting ally skills trainings for employees
- Working with recruiting on writing inclusive job descriptions
- Advising human resources on which benefits packages are most LGBTQIA+ friendly
- Establishing a framework for LGBTQIA+ diversity data collection and reporting with our people team
- Publishing all Proudflare-related resources in a Wiki for all Cloudflare employees to access easily
Call to Action
I suggest starting an employee resource group at your company. Whether it be focused on LGBTQIA+, women, people of color, parents, or other underserved populations in tech, conversations about inclusion and community-building make for a better work atmosphere. Here are some beginning resources I used.
Let's make our industry a better, more inclusive place for all.
Follow & join us
Also, follow us on social media and join us at our next events.
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
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