Life at Dataminr

Every June in the U.S., Pride Month brings beautiful, dazzling rainbow parades to different cities across the nation to commemorate the month. At Dataminr, we come together to not only celebrate our LGBTQIA+ colleagues but also to recognize the continued challenges facing their community. It’s a reminder that we need to keep advocating for widespread equality and justice—not just in June—but all year round.

As part of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts to amplify employees’ voices, I spoke with Jay Van Alstyne, Dataminr Software Engineer and Global Leader of the Pride@Dataminr employee resource group (ERG), to hear how this year’s Pride Month is special to her and what companies can do to support their LGBTQIA+ employees.

Here’s what Jay had to say.

Why is this year’s Pride Month special to you?

I recently moved to Seattle from Montana; it’s my first time living in a city. It’s given me a perspective I couldn’t have had before. I can also see that people’s attitude towards the LGBTQIA+ community is significantly more positive here in Seattle. Although I’ve attended Montana’s Billings Pride Fest in the past, the scale of events there was very small, so I’m thrilled to see what it’s going to be like in Seattle. I expect it to be really different and special and am looking forward to discovering what Seattle Pride has to offer this year.

What is one thing companies can do to support LGBTQIA+ employees so they can thrive and be their authentic selves at work? 

This is my first full-time job, so I can only speak to my experience as a young professional who was looking for employment not so long ago. I had a lot of interviews before joining Dataminr, and I vividly remember one in which I asked if the company has an employee resource group (ERG) or some sort of internal community for LGBTQIA+ employees.

The interviewer questioned why I wanted to know. I was not out at the time and didn’t know how else to answer, so I outed myself there, thinking I’d want to know if the company was supportive and inclusive. But my answer completely changed the dynamic of the interview from that point on. To this day, I don’t know if that affected me not getting the role at the company—or whether it’s even fair to assume so—but the experience still bothers me.

I had a completely different experience at Dataminr. The interview scheduling form gave me the option to share my pronouns. My first interaction was with the recruiter. When I asked if there was an ERG for LGBTQIA+ employees, my question wasn’t met with any judgment. In fact, none of the people I spoke to during the interview process made me feel uncomfortable. I felt safe and committed to being out from the very start. And so far, all of my colleagues value my knowledge and companionship, which hasn’t always been true because of my gender identity. I want to commend Dataminr for that, particularly my colleagues in the engineering department with whom I work closely. I feel welcome here. Everyone has been unbelievably kind.

I share this story to emphasize that having diverse and inclusive hiring practices is one of the most concrete ways organizations can support their LGBTQIA+ candidates and employees. That’s how you attract and retain talent—by letting people know that they can be their full, authentic selves at work.

As this year’s global leader of the Pride@Dataminr ERG, what changes do you hope to bring to the group?

I hope I can help make the Pride@Dataminr ERG more appealing to those similar to me: introverts who are hesitant or shy to join. I also want to see it become more of a community—where people can form meaningful friendships and talk to each other more freely about anything, not just Pride-related topics.

What is the Pride@Dataminr ERG doing to celebrate this month?

I’m excited to share that our ERG will be hosting multiple activities throughout the month, such as:

  • An emoji-making event. There will be a guide for people to make their own emojis using any Pride flags’ colors. We will showcase the emojis and upload them all to our company’s Slack emoji library so anyone can use them.
  • A happy hour event for people to mingle and play games together at the New York office and virtually.
  • A panel discussion with a guest speaker to explore current challenges facing the LQBTQIA+ community and how people outside of the community can show allyship.
  • An internal discussion session amongst our U.K. colleagues. They will be discussing the series
    It’s a Sin,” which depicts the lives of a group of gay men and their friends during the U.K.’s 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis.
  • A group podcast discussion on the intersection of identity and sexuality in collaboration with the Amigos@Dataminr ERG. We’ll discuss the words to and themes of one of the most well-known salsa songs of all times, “El Gran Varón.” It’s about a queer person from the Hispanic community and their struggles.

It’s an honor to lead the Pride@Dataminr ERG this year. I hope to see as many of my colleagues as possible—both ERG members and allies throughout all of Dataminr—join us as we celebrate, honor and commemorate this month.

Author
Robin Strup
Vice President,
DEI & Internal Communications
June 2, 2023
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