I am writing today because Optimizely is doing something it has never done before. This coming Sunday, June 28, Optimizely will make its first foray into a historic LGBT institution: the San Francisco Pride Parade. For the first time, Optimizely employees, family and friends will come together in public to be #OptimizelyProud.
For me, this is personal. Before coming to Optimizely, I never dreamed I would join my company at Pride. Nor did I dream I would join a company where I could bring my whole self to work. But on my very first day here, I sat down at my new desk and noticed asticker attached to the tabletop—the Optimizely logo in rainbow colors. I would come to learn that this sticker represented “Out at Optimizely,” a group of LGBTQ employees and allies who come together as friends and as advocates for LGBT issues in the workplace. I’ve often joked that they scoped me out during the recruiting process and planted the sticker on my desk when I arrived. In fact, it was just a coincidence. But that small sticker meant a lot. It meant I could be myself here.
A few months back, I had the idea that Optimizely could have a float in the San Francisco Pride Parade. Naturally, I went to my peers in Out at Optimizely. I told them I would do everything necessary to make this happen, but that I needed help. Optimizely had never done something like this before, and I knew it would require time, money and executive approval.
Fortunately, several others came forward and joined me to champion this cause. And over the coming months, we made it happen. We developed a project plan, gained key stakeholders and secured a budget. We consulted with our internal Design team, our VP of People and our Chief Marketing Officer. We earned the support of our Director of Global Corporate and Brand Communications and our two Co-founders, one of whom serves as CEO. We hired a float builder and rented an arsenal of speakers to pump music through the parade. We enlisted not one, but two Optimizely DJs, including our VP of Product, who was formerly known in the international House and Techno scene as DJ Wyatt Earp.
In total, we’ve registered 150 Optimizely employees, friends and family to join us on Sunday. (For a frame of reference, our San Francisco office employs about 300.) We’ve also hosted a number of ancillary events making up what we’ve called “Pride Week.” These events have included cupcakes, champagne, music, a tutu making workshop and a fireside chat about being LGBT in the workplace between our VP of People and the founder of the Lesbians Who Tech conference, Leanne Pittsford.
All of this was accomplished by a small group of individual contributors with other full-time responsibilities. We’ve worked hard to make this happen. But it wouldn’t have been possible if we weren’t at a company with a culture like Optimizely’s. A company that empowers its employees with values like OPTIFY—ownership, passion, trust, integrity, fearlessness, and transparency. A company that delivers on its promise that employees can bring their whole selves to work. A company that believes its success is intrinsically linked to a diverse and accepting workplace.
So, if you’re lucky like me and you find yourself at the San Francisco Pride Parade this Sunday, keep your eyes and ears open for Optimizely. We’ll be the final float, closing the parade with thumping music, guiding a sea of #OptimizelyProud people all the way to City Hall.