The term “rainbow capitalism” is used to refer to organisations not taking the required actions to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ staff members while pretending to be supportive. So, the question is, what are the required steps organisations need to take to actually be an ally to the community? In today’s conversation, Dr Craig Poku (he/they; @C_Poku93) will be joined by Anuradha Damale (she/her; @anulikesstars) and James Brumpton (he/him; @Jim936), who will be providing us some insight on this question.
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00:00:00 Craig Welcome to the Pride in STEM Podcast, a series centered around bringing forward the voices of those who face barriers within the LGBTQ+ community. I’m your host, Dr. Craig Poku, a Black British queer scientist who goes by he/they pronouns. We want to mark the International Day of LGBTQIA+ people in STEM with important conversations from different members of our rainbow community. that will provide insights, highlight barriers, and discuss solutions in the context of STEM, both within the United Kingdom and Ireland.
In this episode, we’ll be focusing our discussion on pride and industry. The term ‘rainbow capitalism’ has been used more and more in today’s age. As it can appear that on the outside an organization is making the conscious effort to create a more inclusive environment for its LGBTQ+ staff members. However, this is not necessarily the case. Therefore, what steps can organizations do to change this viewpoint? Joining me today are the brilliant Anuradha and James. Who will be providing us some insight on this topic. To begin can you both tell me a bit about yourselves.
00:01:01 Anu I’m just going to hop in! [laughs] So hi, my name is Anuradha, but you can call me Anu. I am originally from Southall in West London. But I currently live in Forest Hill, living that good, you know, middle-class white life with my puppy Toast, my best friend Lauren and my fiancé Theo in that order of importance. Bi, pan, queer, whatever a person of Indian origin. And I spent four years of my childhood in India. So from age 11, till 15, I was there, and then I moved back to Southall. I have a background in physics and in science policy, and my work is in international security. So basically my job is making sure that countries or non-country actors don’t use technology and science for quote/unquote ‘bad things’. So it’s focusing on keeping us and space safe and secure and sustainable for everyone. Apart from that, I run the UK branch of an NGO called Women of Colour Advancing Peace and Security, which is all about providing a platform space for minorities within peace, security and conflict transformation to inform the policies which actually impact all of us and not just a small subset of society. Apart from that, I just watch cricket and yell on Twitter and that’s pretty much me. Thank you for having me today. I’ll pass over to James.
00:02:29 James So I’m James. I identify as gay. My pronouns are he, him. Currently I am a junior DevOps engineer. But prior to that I spent ten years within QA, which is quality assurance or test analyst, test engineer. There are many different names that it kind of comes under as regards to that umbrella. I started out my career as a games tester for a well-known developer and publisher. I’m originally from a town called Lincoln in Lincolnshire. It had one gay bar which was called The Scene. And it’s a bit like going round to your Nan’s when she’s had a nice conservatory put in. I am now based in London. And I am very grateful as a queer person to be able to be here and be a bit more me, although I would say that the tech sector could perhaps also be a bit more queer-friendly. Outside of work, you will see me taking pictures of donuts in the middle of high streets of London, because that’s what makes me tick. And yeah, I think that is roughly where I sit.
00:03:38 Craig Before we begin. Firstly, I’m here for this London representation. As a Londoner myself who has been in the North for the last few years, I do miss London dearly. The second thing is I also love how James goes on about taking photos of food that makes him tick, as if like I don’t do this as a day to day basis. [laughs] And Anu, I also absolutely love the fact that you like, the work that your doing is so critical, especially when it comes to not only addressing queerness within the industry, but also women of colour, which obviously that includes another intersection, which I would actually be really interested to hear about bit more. So I guess given that I’ve kind of like put you on the spotlight though there, like what do you think are the key barriers for LGBTQ+ people within the industry?
00:04:32 Anu What a loaded question. [laughs] You know, I don’t even know where to start because every—I don’t know if you’ve, you know, this Craig, but every LGBTQ+ person is different. We’re not just one big homogenous blob of people that will all treat it with the same you know, life and have had the same experiences. And I think, you know, depending on the industry you are in, you probably get a different flavour of racism or homophobia and different level of it and a different style of it. And I’m sure that, you know, James is going to have, you know, a plethora of exciting examples of times when you felt [laughs] out of place. I mean, when it comes to my field, so I work in international security and policy and governance and that kind of stuff. And we are still at baby stage one of identifying how to overcome barriers and why it’s necessary to do that. And it’s a big, heavy agenda focus. 00:05:32 And unfortunately or fortunately over the past year, given the incidents that’s taken place, there has been a new focus on race, but people are almost rushing to tick that box. I mean, at first it—when I joined my field, I hadn’t come out. Because I’m from an Indian family in Southall. You know I’m lucky to have been born and brought up in London, which is a lot more metropolitan, much more accepting than a lot of other places in the country. Which is why Craig when you said, you know, you’re loving that London representation, same. But also it kind of sucks that, you know, outside of London you have to worry about your identity and living the way that you want to live. But it was enough for me to worry about being a woman of colour let alone being a queer person. I was kind of like, “That’s a whole other thing that I’m not even going to think about and if it becomes relevant, it becomes relevant.” And that’s why I started doing the work with WCaps, with Women of Colour Advancing Peace and Security. Because I wanted to provide a platform not for women of colour but for all minorities. 00:06:32 So we champion sort of queer people, people with disabilities, any combination of minoritization. And it feels a bit counter-intuitive because my area of work is about making the world safer for everyone quote/unquote ‘in principle’ right? Unfortunately, some people just won’t let go. They just won’t let go of the reins. And they won’t accept that no matter how many degrees you have, no matter how much money you have, there is no replacement for the experience of individuals and the way that they are made to feel insecure. And there’s also this whole big weight of expectation when it comes to how to present yourself. So I also struggled to come out as queer in the first place. Because well, my family firstly, you know but also because it was really evident to me that white women in my fields were always going to be held to a different set of expectations of behaviour to me. And so were white queer women. 00:07:27 And so to come out as a person of colour who is also, you know, a bisexual pansexual woman it was a whole loaded set of expectations against me. I had to behave a certain way. I had to carry myself a certain way. And coming out was great in the end, but there’s so little institutional support. There is a great group of people in the UK now called Queer In/Security. And they’ve only just become a thing in the last year and they’re a fantastic space. But because of the field doesn’t platform them enough and give them enough support and resource, not everyone that works in the field knows about them. And the other issue is with the institutional support is that either folks are still not centring inclusion in their strategies when it comes to setting up their organizations, how they carry out their work. For instance, you know, are there, is there gendered language in your strategy from the get-go. You know, like is that going to be a problem? Either they don’t centre it or because they’re taught not to prioritize it. 00:08:32 And so what’s happened to me as a queer woman of colour is I’m treated a bit like an EDI Alexa or Janet. I don’t know if you watch The Good Place? [laughs]
00:08:40 Craig [laughs] Yes. I most definitely do.
00:08:42 Anu Yeah. So it started when I was like back in STEM, you know, pure physics. But it has pervaded my life in instructional security and science policy. There’s an expectation at a drop of a hat. Because there’s so few people that are out and institutions that do provide that support. That at the drop of a hat, I’m like a vending machine for problem solving. And it’s not limited to my field. I’m sure James has faced this as well. But what makes it particularly scary for me is that what I say informs policy. It informs what high-level people sometimes in government say, and people at high levels of communicate. And that is a lot of emotional labour in a field that is already emotionally laborious because it’s to do with people’s well-beings. But as a queer person of colour, you know, I could never feel the pain that people in other countries feel that are oppressed for their race or for who they are in terms of their sexuality. But there is that connection that you will always feel. And I think that all of that emotional labour is just too much, sometimes as a minority in the field. And there is an expectation that you have more empathy to deal with it. And so you should be able to deal with it. I’m going to stop talking now. I’ll let James go. [chuckles]
00:09:57 Craig James, I feel like you can probably relate to a lot of this and probably have some other insights given the type of work that you do.
00:10:04 James I mean, I can relate to it, but I would say that I recognize my privilege because I am a white Cisgender man. So I definitely would not face some of the struggles that others who are not. I definitely can relate to the sentence that as a gay person people will ask you things. And there is a sense of pressure that you need to feel educated. And it is not about talking about life experiences and why, you know, you might go home with friends at night or why you might not say certain things or interact in a certain way. But you kind of almost have to understand the law a lot better than people who don’t identify as queer. Because sometimes people will ask you, you know, what’s the law on that? And what’s this and what’s that? And so you do have to be much more educated about it. There is an expectation that you should know the, how can I say? There is an expectation that you’ve done your homework and people are kind of lazy in a way, and that they’re going to come to you for that lived experience. 00:11:03 They’re going to try and sort of like pillage that for free. And it’s like, “Honey, this is my lived experience.” You know, you don’t, just base that off of—don’t base a company policy off of what one white man said. You know what I mean? Because that’s not the right way to go about it. I want to try and take a slightly different tack with this question, which is in terms of the key barriers that I find, is actually understanding the purpose of working groups within an organization. Because we set LGBTQ+ working groups up, but like, what’s the purpose of it? Because I’ve been in some organizations before where it’s more of a social thing or like, “Let’s get drunk.” And I don’t agree with that because I think that we should be working together to help inform policy. I think if a working group is there, yes, we should be having a social side of things. But I also think the fact is that we do need to be helping to inform policy. So I think that’s why it’s really important that companies have buy-in or representation from a senior—and. 0 I’m talking like senior, senior, like, you know, top levels of the table—get involved in that. 00:12:06 Because sometimes it can feel a little bit like you are just screaming into a wind tunnel. Because you’re kind of, you’re in your group and you’re going, “Well, this is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong.” And it’s like without that sort of senior representation, there’s no driver for it outside of that meeting. But equally so we need to agree the purpose of it because that can help people within that group focus on things. So I’ll take an example. I won’t name an employer because you know, we’re not going to be shady. But I had turned around to a working group that I was in an LGBTQ+ working group that I was in. And I said, “Hey, I’d like to create a podcast about coming out under the guise of your name. So I would like to use the name because I think it’d be a great way to be able to platform people and tell the story of, of that coming out and hopefully inspire others to be more visibly out.” 00:12:58 Because I think the one of the kind of things that we forget is those—they’ll always be like a census. They’ll be like how many gays work in this company? You know, or how many lesbians work in his company? And actually it’s not about just doing the Stonewall Index and making sure that you’re appearing on the outside that you’re doing well. It’s about cultivating the environment that you are currently working in because actually you might find that there are people within your organization who don’t feel comfortable enough to come out. So it’s like, we need to focus inwards as well as outwards. Anyway, they had turned around and said, “We are not a content production service. And we don’t want to go ahead with this podcast.”
00:13:40 Craig Oh wow.
00:13:40 James And I was like, “Okay, that’s fine.” But you know what? That was the driver. That was the kick up my backside—we’ll keep it PG 13. But it was, there was the kick up my backside that I needed to go and actually create this podcast. And I’m not going to be braggadocious about it when I say this. But it became the most engaged internal content that the company had had. And I’m talking like a good few thousand people were engaging with this content. And I was proud of that. No pun intended. But the thing is that what the working group didn’t realize was this could have been a way for several thousand people to have heard about this working group to have been able to have engaged with that network. And it kind of got bigger from that. But they didn’t want to do that because they saw it as a risk. They didn’t see it as the purpose. And I’m thinking to myself, like we need to take risks and we need to try different tacks. It’s not about like just throwing out the odd survey. 00:14:33 It’s about properly engaging with people who are not within that group and understanding people’s stories and finding people who are willing to be vulnerable and open about their experiences. Because a lot of the time we do relate to them it’s just that we don’t know about them. Do you know what I mean? I would love to hear more people’s stories. I’m not saying, “Give me fifteen minutes of trauma.” We all know that within like a LGBTQ+ theatre and film, it’s pretty much just about like queer trauma. You know, but let’s listen to other stories. Maybe people resonate with that. I don’t know. But you know, that’s kind of, that would be my two cents worth when someone’s like, “What are your barriers?” It’s like, if you have this group then what’s the purpose of it?
00:15:16 Craig Yeah. I think that you both raised some really excellent points. And Anu, you spoke about this idea of feeling as though, like, because you are like the token minority, then there’s this expectation that, you know, everything or more importantly, you are the source of knowledge for fixing all of the EDI problems within your organization. And this is something that I definitely relate to. Likewise, maybe what you were saying, James, with regards to the idea of storytelling. I think storytelling is quite powerful. And I think that a lot of the times, whenever you see organizations trying to address EDI initiatives or EDI aims, they always feel like, “Oh, we just need to focus on the numbers. We need to focus on the stats. Why aren’t more people applying?” But by doing so, they also kind of I guess neglect what is actually happening within the company itself. And this is something that I’ve actually noticed a lot, whenever it comes to a lot of the organizations that I’ve worked in. Where they will be very quick to be like, “There aren’t enough Black people, for example, doing earth sciences.” 00:16:16 But then they then won’t acknowledge why are the Black people who are currently doing earth sciences feeling a bit excluded from everything else? Is it the fact that there is this culture that is very unwelcoming. And this idea of also having groups with a purpose, I think is very important as well because, we can sometimes feel as minorities, especially when it comes to trying to improve representation, is that it’s sort of our job. But if you don’t have seniority within that, then you ended up basically screaming into a brick wall. But then at the same time, if you then don’t take risks, then you then find you’re in this weird vicious circle of ten years down the line nothing actually gets improved. Which kind of leads me into my next question quite nicely actually, in terms of—so I’m aware that the lack of representation within my field has definitely affected my journey in STEM, both as a black man and as somebody who identifies as queer. 00:17:12 I would like to know, how do you think it has affected your respective—like affected your journey within both of your respective industries. So Anu, what are your thoughts on that?
00:17:23 Anu Well, I mean, firstly, James, I really resonated with what you said about the power of storytelling and also the echo chamber. Sometimes that committees and working groups can form when they don’t have tangible purpose. I’ve been part of working groups of national organizations before, and I’ve had a lot of, “We see you, we hear you tell us more about all the problems that you’re facing and we promise, you know, we’ll do something about it.” And it got to a point for me where with several of these organizations, I had to say, “Either pay me for my time or show me what tangibly you have in place to change here. Otherwise I’m stepping away.” Because what it feels like is kind of this, “Oh yes. You know tell me more about how difficult things have been. And we’re just going to sit here and nod.” And It’s a lot of lip service sometimes. And I’m so sorry about the experience you had with the organization and the podcast, but I’m also really pleased to hear how you stuck it to them, frankly. So, you know, all good things.
00:18:30 James It was a very polite middle finger, I’ll put it that way.
00:18:32 Anu [laughs] Love it. Yeah, I think—so it’s a bit weird for me. I think the representation often, and you’ve touched on this as well is tick boxy. I think it goes a lot deeper than representation in my field in particular. I think the way it’s designed and the way it’s always been designed has been to be comfortable for a very, very small subset of society to flourish in those positions. And it’s kind of a circular argument because it’s been designed by the normative people within that field. So what I’m saying is the lack of representation has caused this like negative feedback loop that has made it worse and worse and worse over time, and reinforced that. 00:19:25. 0. It’s like, if you imagine a snowball going down a mountain, that snowball has continued to gather snow and it’s so big now that it’s getting harder and harder to move its direction. And so there’s this weird circular argument about how we fix representation in our field and whether or not fixing representation is step one of fixing the issue of diversity within our field. I mean, my personal experience was that I went to a state school in Southall. You know, I got lucky because I was proactive to look into opportunities for myself. I wouldn’t have known that a job like mine existed for someone like me had I not actively gone and been stubborn. And I think that that expectation that because you’re a minority, you should have to hustle harder is ridiculous. The other thing is for me, I think I became acceptable to that subset of people because I knew how to assimilate. You know, I knew how to talk the talk. 00:20:31 I knew how to walk the walk. I knew how to be forgiving of, say, casual homophobic, or casually racist traits within our field in order to get myself where I needed to go. And looking back, I wish, you know, like if I was the person I am now, then I wouldn’t have allowed that to happen. Because I don’t want to assimilate. I don’t want to be what is deemed acceptable within my field. And I think that that representation both online because that’s how I found my people. Like I found them online, right? Because it’s such a dispersed field. It was people and how they carry themselves online. Plus like what they looked like. There was an expectation that everyone in our field has to tweet really professionally and keep a really personal profile, completely separate to their own life, that they’re not meant to be super like friendly and chatty. Everything is professional. Everything happens behind closed doors and I’m an incredibly transparent person, the way that I am. 00:21:31 And my queerness makes me like that. And there’s no left or right about it, right? Like my queerness makes me like that. And had I seen more of that in my field, I’m much more comfortable now knowing that there are queer people. But that’s because I’ve had to force myself to find them. And like, why does it have to be hard? Why? Like why does it need to be protected? Why do we have to assume that field will operate a certain way? And I think, I think what people struggle with is the fact that it’s going to take time. It’s going to be one thing at a time. But that doesn’t mean that you can only have one track of change happening. You can do things on every different aspect, every different level, be that grassroots, be that governmental, be through that NGOs to really push the social capital in a direction that means that representation becomes a mainstream issue rather than something that you tack on to the end. Do you know what I mean? I don’t know if that makes sense. 00:22:30 I struggle a lot to talk about the issue of representation actually, because I’ve talked about it so much in the past. But in my head, like often it just becomes this argument about tick boxing. And I just don’t think that’s enough. If you go into a field thinking, “Oh, there’s someone that looks like me in this field,” but that field offers no support for you as someone who is already going to be disadvantaged. How are you going to sustain yourself in that field? Yeah.
00:22:55 Craig Before I bring James’ point in and I kind of just want to address a couple of bits. So I’ve been out since I was nineteen. I started, I came out as bi and then I came to queer which I kind of identify now. But what was really interesting was that I was very quiet about my own sexuality until after I got awarded my PhD. Because prior to that point, I felt that there was this weird expectation and power dynamic, in which if I, for example, were out of line in any way, shape and form, I wouldn’t get my doctorate. And it sounded really weird. But it was just one of those things where I kind of built it up in my head because it wasn’t just seeing people who were Black, but it was also seeing queer Black people. In the field I am one of two people in the UK, from what I recall that identifies as both Black and queer. 00:23:49 And the reason I talk about this is because it was only over the last couple of years when I started to become my more authentic self, started to say, what I actually wanted to be, really became a lot more transparent in most of my communications. That’s what I actually not only felt more comfortable with myself. But I actually found that a lot of people resonated with that. And it’s actually because of Twitter that I actually came across both you, Anu, and James. And I’m very thankful for that because I think that Twitter has been a really good space for this. James, I’m interested to hear your thoughts as well. Because you spoke about obviously moving to London. But prior to that, you were in Lincoln. And I obviously began this podcast talking about London representation. But I’m interested to know, like, did you think that the lack of representation of queer people within your field affected your journey?
00:24:50 James Yes. [laughs] I would go further. I know. I think it did. And the reason for that is because when I was—prior to being a techie, prior to working in tech, I worked in a supermarket. I won’t give too many details away. It was a large chain; ends in ‘esco’. [laughs] Anyway, I was, you know, you would go there. And I like—I started there at a time when I was just coming out. And I was working predominantly with women because I was working full-time there during the day. And I got on really well with the ladies on the checkouts. And they were like, “Oh, you’re, so and so’s lad aren’t you”, it was like “Hiya love”, you know, it was all that. And it was wonderful. And I felt really embraced and people were, they lived for the facts there. I was openly gay and I—you know, I was like unapologetic about it. Then I moved into tech. Brace yourself, this is like, the ‘This Is Your Life bit of the story. But then I moved into tech and it was almost like I had to apologize for the fact that I was gay. And it was really odd. When I first started, I was just open about it. Because I didn’t see that there was an issue with it. I didn’t see that there was going to be this level of resistance. And I think that kind of relates, Anu, into what you you’re saying in the—like, it’s so bizarre that there is this resistance to you being an authentic version of yourself within the workplace. It’s like, “Honey, this rubber band, she’s going to snap.” So I remember it was a very lad culture. Like I sort of compared it to being in a live version of a Nuts magazine and the pot noodle was included, you know? Like it was a lot of like birds, booze, football—“football!” you know—
00:26:31 Craig That sounds like my idea of—
00:26:32 Anu That sounds like my personal hell.
00:26:34 Craig [laughs]
00:26:36 James It was not good. You know, we’re grateful for the opportunities we get at the time. And they turned around and they would be like, “Oh, that’s gay. That’s gay.” And I had to go to HR and be like, “You realize that this is not acceptable, right?” The fact that people are sat here going, “Oh, that was well gay,” like that’s not acceptable. I was 21. Like I was still discovering myself. I was still trying to work out where I sat on the queer spectrum. And you know understand what femininity and masculinity meant to me. And here I was trying to like create a career for myself while I was getting paid minimum wage and also having to provide HR with all the answers. You know what I mean? It was very bad. So that was really hard to begin with. Because you’re apologizing about it and it’s the first time I’d ever experienced it. So I was still—we have hormones that like at 21, like in our early twenties, you know? We don’t know how best to deal with these situations. Because it’s the first time. 00:27:34 Experience teaches us a lot about how to be a bit more polite in our language. So there may have been a few exchanges of which I now look on and I go, “Could have done that better.” But yeah, it’s that—I think as well, it’s like poor relationships with management doesn’t help either. Like, and so if people don’t see—if your manager doesn’t understand why you’re spending an amount of your time per day trying to do things that help improve LGBTQ+ working people’s lives, they’re going to be like, “You’re literally wasting your time. I’ve asked you to do a task. Why are you not doing this task?” And so it’s like, you’re expected to help provide—as Anu was saying like, “Why am I not getting paid to help with supporting the D&I side of things? So why am I not getting paid to do that? 00:28:31 Why is this expected that I’m going to be doing like an eight to nine hour day and then three hours at an event afterwards where I like, I’m not getting paid for this?” You know what I mean?
00:28:39 Craig Because they’ll pay you in exposure. That’s the complement that they always say. And I’m just like, “No, it doesn’t work like that,” exposure doesn’t pay my—
00:28:46 Anu Craig. You’ve said the banned phrase. Did you just—? Oh my God, no.
00:28:50 Craig Exposure doesn’t pay for my rent! [laughing] But as I was saying, James continue.
00:28:56 James No, but that was kind of my point. It’s just that I think that one of my sort of real issues with lack of representation is just that people don’t seem to understand why you do what you do. And they just can’t take it as your word. Do you know what I mean? Like they just see what you’re doing as a waste of time. Because they can live their authentic lives. So why should it matter to them that I come in and I’m a chequered version of what I would usually be? You know what I mean? Like I’m not bringing my authentic self. I would say that it’s very different now that I’m almost thirty-two or twenty-nine plus three, if we’re talking about, you know, the orange Facebook,, that’s what we say. So but like, I think I’m much less apologetic about it now. But eleven years ago, I wish the eleven years ago me could see me now. Because I think that they would feel a lot better about the fact that we eventually do come to a place where we’re like I will come into work wear my bedazzled Mickey ears. I will florp a fan 00:30:04 in a Zoom meeting. Like I’m comfortable being myself and I’m not going to apologize for that. But it’s taken a while to realize that I don’t need to keep giving apologies just for being me.
00:30:14 Craig Yeah. I obviously had to… do a piece, which I can’t really to go into, because I signed a bunch of NDAs and stuff where it was like, “If you could tell yourself ten years ago where you would be, what would it be?” And it was a really interesting kind of reflective moment. Because for me, I was like, if I knew ten years ago that I would be how I am now, and I’m really unapologetic and sort of myself that then I think that would make me feel a lot better with the career path I went down. And like the other thing that you’ve both included for, like, you’ve kind of alluded to, is pay us for our things. Because if you want us to basically be fixing all of your problems in the company, you have money. And I know these organizations do have money. And now whenever they approach me and then they turn around and say, “Actually, we can’t pay you for this.” I go, “Then that’s fine. You won’t basically be tapping into that knowledge anymore.”
00:31:11 Anu I’ll do you one better, hire specialists to come in and solve the problems rather than relying on your existing staff, who aren’t trained to do this! There are literally people out there that, that make a living from doing this. Hire them!
00:31:28 Craig Exactly. So that’s it for me. So if you’re going to pay me, pay me. But actually pay people their accolades who actually do this, in their kind of like, day to day job. Which kind of brings us very nicely to the end of this conversation so firstly, can I just say that I’ve enjoyed talking to both of you. This has been brilliant. And just for our audience, like, we’ve been able to sort of like go in and scratch the surface of what it’s like to be queer within industry. If you could provide one solution to improve awareness for like being queer within industry and I know that we’ve got several solutions to be presented. But if you could do the one solution, what would it be?
00:32:10 Anu There are lots of different things that need to happen. As I’m sure you’ve got, like, that’s my general vibe, like just fix everything. However, I think something that a lot of perhaps why cis, het, or normative folks struggle with is thinking that getting a quote from a person of colour or a minority or a queer person and sticking it in an article makes them amazing because they’ve done a bit for diversity. Concept—partner with an organization that specializes in it and it’s led by minorities or give that platform to an actual minority or an actual queer person to talk about their experience rather than being a megaphone for them. Give them the platform. That would be my solution.
00:32:57 Craig I definitely agree with this on, so many levels. This is where most of my Twitter rants end up going. James, what would be your one solution?
00:33:08 James So I’m going to back anyone on that, but I’m going to stick, take a step further and say to any white cis gay men, also know when to take a step back from that conversation as well. Because I don’t know if this is controversial, but like, if you look at the number of LGBTQ+ folks, or if you, if we take the circle and we divide it into like, what’s the representation of white gay men versus everyone else within the spectrum, predominantly it’s our voices that are the most heard. So I would encourage anybody who is asked to do an event or a podcast or anything like that and say, “Okay, so what’s the diversity of your line up?” And if they already have enough white representation, I would say no. 00:33:58 And make sure that there are people who are not just white gay men on a panel talking about stuff. Because again, that is a bit like shooting yourself in the foot. Do you know what I mean? You’re not going to get an inclusive or diverse range of conversations or opinions. If all it is just white gay men going, “It’s really hard, isn’t it?” Like, don’t get me wrong. It’s tough. And I’m not going to be—how can I say—we literally just had a gay person like brutally attacked. Were they not even killed, like in London, like the other week, you know what I mean? And like, there were a number of homophobic attacks that are still happening within the UK. So yes, being gay is still difficult. But at the same time within the workspace, we need to make sure that we hear from other queer voices within the tech sector—that might get me some hate online. Sorry, though.
00:34:50 Anu Oh my god no, James. Very that. Very that. You’re right.
00:34:53 Craig There is something that I also kind of agree with as well. Because like I, yes, I’m Black, yes, I’m queer, but I’m a cis man. And so I have that privilege and there are a number of conversations that my voice is not valid from that discussion. So I then go—“Actually, I know somebody who’s a lot more qualified to talk about this. This is this person’s details.” And I think what I like to see it as is whenever I think about intersectionality now, I think about it as a combination of you’ve got privileges and disadvantages. So for example, I have the privilege that I’m a cis male, but society sees me as being Black and at great disadvantage. However, I’m aware that I can navigate certain spaces better than other people because of those privileges, it’s essentially using those privileges to provide the platform for people who don’t have that space, who all can’t get access to those spaces to actually speak their voice. And that was sort of the main motivator for this podcast. And it’s one of those things where I felt that people are getting better about it. But I feel like we need to get past the point of going, just because you’ve bought into one marginalized group that that means you could speak for all marginalized people, because we are all aware that that is not the case.
00:36:05 James Stop asking gay men to talk about trans people and actually interact with trans people. Because it’s not my place to speak about the trans community in the sense of like, “I can’t talk on their behalf about their lived experience. I can’t give you that perspective because that’s not my lived experience. So why are you asking me about that? Do your f—king homework and actually engage with the trans community and make sure that you understand from someone who has had that lived experience. It’s not my job to give you that. Do your homework.” It aggravates me. Moving on, the final one is support groups like Code Bar. So I actually got my previous role. So before I moved into junior dev ops, I was a senior test engineer at my current company. And the reason why I got into that role was because of a company called Code Bar. And ‘code bar’ support minority groups to educate them in how to code across a multitude of different languages. And I think if companies can support groups like that, then not only are they giving to the community, but then it’s a double—you know, it’s a double whammy. Because they will then have people who are like, “Cool. So you support this, what jobs do you have?” So, you know, it’s scratch my back, scratch yours. So, you know, companies like that, I very much think that we should try and support. But that’s, those are my, my little things.
00:37:24 Craig Yes.
00:37:25 Anu Oh my God, no, James, thank you so much for the point that you made, the penultimate point that I’m going to immediately backpack on. [chuckles] And basically like smash it into what Craig said. Like, if you’re offered an opportunity as a person or a part of the community and you go, “Huh, I need to read up on this.” Maybe you’re not the right person to talk about it. And maybe, you know, someone who is, and maybe that person needs that platform more than you do. And I think that that’s something I would take away from it. And also just because a time—like there’s a focused time period on which we’re focusing on Black issues or trans issues doesn’t mean that they disappear.
00:38:08 Craig Exactly.
00:38:09 Anu So like, yeah.
00:38:08 Craig Just because you read a book about racism in the UK, then that doesn’t then make you anti-racist. Like it’s an ongoing process. I always say to people that the language that I grew up in, in London, was very misogynistic and very transphobic. And once I realized, “Oh God, I need to fix this,” then that’s the point when I kind of went, “Oh, I can’t do this I needed to keep doing the unlearning process.” But I’m going to stop the conversation there because we can keep going on for ages. But can I just say that it’s been an absolute pleasure being able to have this chat with both you, Anu, and James. So again, thank you to Pride in STEM for providing us this platform to have this discussion. Thank you to our panellists Anu and James for their brilliant insight. And I’m your host, Craig Poku. It’s been a pleasure, I’ll see on the other side.