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Amazon plays host to first ever LGBT+ Leaders STEM conference

Category: LGBT, women in stem, early careers, LGBT event, STEM, Careers Fair, Leading LGBT Organisation, LGBTQ Inclusion, Lgbt diversity, LGBT Community, LGBT History Month, amazon, LGBTQ+


Amazon teams up with Pink News to host the largest careers event in the UK for LGBT+ undergraduates in STEM fields.

This February, we were delighted to partner with LGBT+ Leaders and media outlet PinkNews to host the LGBT Leaders: STEM 2020 conference at our UK Head Office.

Students from around the UK had the opportunity to meet leading voices from a range of STEM-related industries, participating in a careers fair that included discussions, workshops and networking opportunities.

The LGBT Leaders: STEM conference is designed to address the under-representation of LGBT+ people in science, technology, engineering and mathematical roles.

More than a third of LGBT+ employees across all industries in the UK have felt the need to conceal their sexual orientation at work. The UK government’s latest National LGBT+ Survey also highlighted a range of issues for LGBT+ people in the workplace, from lower life satisfaction than the national average, to fears over negative reactions and verbal or physical harassment.

At Amazon, we have a long-term commitment to ensuring all LGBT+ people experience a positive and inclusive workplace environment throughout their careers.

“As a LGBTQ ally, I welcome the opportunity to support diversity & inclusion at Amazon. Gaining perspectives today will help me enhance the programs we make available through the glamazon community” - Paige Jowsey, Events Lead, glamazon

That’s why we run a number of initiatives to support both our employees and the next generation of talent, such as: a transgender toolkit and guidance for employees transitioning; changing our internal directory so that employees worldwide can choose the pronouns on their profile pages; and the LGBT+ Reading Roadshow we launched last year to provide free inclusivity workshops and LGBT+ literature for secondary schools across the UK.

Covering everything from software and coding, to gaming and fintech, here’s a flavour of what was discussed at the LGBT Leaders: STEM 2020 conference.

Identifying a values-driven employer

A shot of Jamie Brown, an engineer at the Financial Times, chairing a panel at Glamazon's LGBT leaders in STEM event.

Jamie Brown, an engineer at the Financial Times, chaired a panel session on his experience of leadership when working in areas such as coding, data and software. He focused on his own experience of corporate culture and how to recognise when an organisation is truly inclusive before you consider them as a prospective employer.

“If you know a company like Amazon is supporting an event like today” he said, “you know there are structures in place to make you feel comfortable when you do choose to come out at work.”

Jamie cited that the majority of young people today are motivated to work for values-driven companies: “It’s a cultural thing. With Amazon and the Financial Times, I know they’re supporting me. When I see organisations engage with positive and inclusive initiatives, I know they’re striving towards goals that make a real difference. Many people like me will be more inclined to apply for a job if I see that employer as an ally.”

“Many people like me will be more inclined to apply for a job if I see that employer as an ally.” - Jamie Brown, Engineer, Financial Times

Inclusivity to drive business growth

Oliver Beach, London Chair of Out in Tech, speaking at the LGBT leaders in STEM event.

Oliver Beach is the London chair of Out in Tech, a global LGBT+ non-profit with a community of over 2,000 members. He focused on how conference attendees can make an impact through their work, what diversity in tech looks like, and the benefits of inclusivity for business growth.

The links between diversity, inclusion and innovation are now well understood by leading businesses, particularly at Amazon where we see diversity as a key driver for innovation.

“When it comes to diversity goals,” Oliver explained, “we should not shy away from talking about the positive impact a diverse and inclusive workforce has on a business. It’s no longer an assumption to say that a more inclusive workforce can boost productivity – in fact evidence suggests it has a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom line.”

“We should not shy away from talking about the positive impact a diverse and inclusive workforce has on a business.” - Oliver Beach, Chair, Out in Tech

Gareth Johnson, events lead for glamazon (Amazon’s LGBT+ employee affinity group) and a manager in AWS, also discussed how diversity and LGBT+ inclusivity can drive innovation in business.

Gareth Johnson and Paige from glamazon giving a speech at the LGBT+ Leaders in STEM event.

“For a company like Amazon” Gareth said, “innovation is crucial to our success. Having a diverse workforce gives us a better understanding of customers’ needs and is key to unlocking ideas. We have a strong belief that innovation is a prerequisite for growth, and diversity has been a key ingredient in creating a workplace where innovation can thrive.”

“That’s why we’re proud to work for an inclusive employer – our diversity is one of our greatest strengths”, he added.

Non-binary people in tech

Arora Ashani is a developer for YOOX Net-a-Porter and co-founder of Non-Binary in Tech, a conference that creates a space for non-binary people working in the tech industry to network, share ideas, create communities and to raise their visibility.

Arora Ashani is a developer for YOOX Net-a-Porter and co-founder of Non-Binary in Tech, holding a mic and giving a talk at the LGBT Leaders in STEM event.

Arora feels the conference will inspire many more people to be their authentic selves, saying: “The most important outcome from this event is that attendees will be inspired to be themselves, to build their own networks and communities, and to raise the visibility of their communities. In any industry, we need to see relatable role models – people like us – working in the careers that we aspire to. Those mentors and role models can connect with, share ideas and raise the ambitions of many young people.”

Former glamazon chair Christon Mallett has previously written about their experiences of being non-binary in the workplace, saying: “The ability at Amazon to wear what I want every day without feeling judged or excluded is remarkably affirming. It has given me the confidence to insist on the same acceptance in other areas of my life.”

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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