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A day in the life: A conversation with DigitalOcean’s Rainbow DOlphins Employee Resource Group leaders

Posted: June 1, 20226 min read

    At DigitalOcean, we are committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive place for everyone. As a values-driven organization with love at our core, we want to make sure individuals feel respected, supported, and connected at work. Our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are places where communities can come together to find and offer support. We asked Rae Lewis-Krisky, and Phoebe Quincy, leaders of the Rainbow DOlphins ERG, DigitalOcean’s LGBTQIA+ ERG to share about the work the group is doing and what it means to them.

    Q: What is the mission of the Rainbow DOlphins ERG?

    Rae: Rainbow DOlphins’ purpose is to provide a safe space for LGBTQIA+ DigitalOcean employees to bring their most authentic selves to work, allowing them to thrive. When employees thrive, the company succeeds. We created a charter with a mission around queer joy and four driving pillars: Culture, Learning, Growth, and Change. My co-lead Phoebe has been instrumental in helping build our group to where it is now.

    With the culture pillar, we celebrate and connect members of our community with casual, inclusive social events and larger milestones like Pride Month. Through education, we educate our internal DigitalOcean community and allies on history, culture, and issues for the queer community. Growth encompasses career development and growth opportunities within our organization’s structure, and in-house learning events. Finally, our Change pillar aims to push the company forward and advocate for changes that reflect a safe, inclusive environment where queer employees can thrive.

    Q: What is the Rainbow DOlphins group doing to help celebrate Pride Month?

    Rae: We have a ton of events that we’re hosting to celebrate Pride Month! I’m a huge believer that lots of hands make for light work, and our Pride Committee volunteers help bring that mantra to life. They deserve so much recognition for all their hard work! We have multiple events in three categories: Learn with us, Grow with us, and Connect with us, which are each open to all DigitalOcean employees. Our events include fun social activities like a Dungeons and Dragons night and a happy hour, and also informative, educational events like bringing in speakers for a conversation about drag and a panel on transgender rights. We will also directly donate to several amazing LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations.

    Q: How does the Rainbow DOlphins support the larger community throughout the year, outside of Pride Month?

    Rae: While we recognize the importance of Pride month, it is only one month out of the entire year. So throughout the year, we do many structured and informal activities. We have a quarterly culture club where each person comes prepared to discuss anything queer including news, articles, books, movies, and even personal stories. This creates larger conversations and dialogue that anyone can participate in. We also host social activities that give us the opportunity to just hang out and chat. Lastly, in line with our Change pillar, we want to help DO continue to grow and improve wherever possible to further our support for the queer community, such as trying to participate in Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index or hosting roundtables for people to discuss issues in a timely manner.

    Q: How is DigitalOcean supporting the Rainbow DOlphins and the larger community?

    Rae: DigitalOcean has provided some essential support for our ERG and the larger community. With all of the anti-trans legislation taking effect across the country and impacting some states more than others, our executive sponsor had conversations with our C-suite to figure out how to support those who are directly impacted or live in discriminatory states. We’ve been able to support employees who needed to relocate to keep their families safe. Of course, we as a company can always do more—allyship takes active effort—but it’s great to work for an organization that is receptive to change.

    Q: How do DigitalOcean’s values tie into Pride Month?

    Rae: There are so many of DO’s values that naturally fall into what we organize. At the beginning of each year, the Rainbow DOlphin leaders establish a charter to let the community know our plans, values, and approach for the year. Phoebe and I decided to pick one company value and weave it into all of the work that we do with the ERG – our north star for the year. This year our value is “Simplicity in all we DO”. We understand that the remote work/life balance is overwhelming so, in an effort to make it easier, we wanted to get back to the basics. This means that we focus on low-pressure and minimal commitment events so we can build simple joyful connections.

    Q: Speaking of the time commitment, how do you balance ERG work with your day-to-day work?

    Rae: That’s one of the biggest struggles. Being an ERG leader is a volunteer position. It should only take up about 5-10% of my time, but it definitely can be more than that, especially around busy times like Pride Month. I want to be candid that it’s a lot of work and a lot of time. But what’s great is that Phoebe and I can be transparent about how much work we have on our plate and we’ve been able to stay flexible and communicative to each other and the team, which makes it a lot less overwhelming. People are always willing to jump in and help or understand if you need to move a deadline or take something off your plate. The work is rewarding because I feel like I’m giving back to my community with my time.

    Phoebe: I love working with Rae as a co-lead on the ERG because we can work together simultaneously or asynchronously and when one of us is unavailable the other can jump in. Our weekly syncs often turn into working sessions so we spend our time efficiently. I also know that there are many folks in our ERG who would be willing to step up to cover us, it’s a great supportive community.

    Q: What makes you passionate about LGBTQ+ spaces and being an influential role in the Rainbow DOlphins?

    Rae: For myself as a pansexual woman, I sometimes struggle with feeling included in the queer community. Being queer is not linear, there are so many variations in how we exist in the community. My goal is to make sure that our community is accepting, growing, supporting each other, and most importantly finding joy in being together. I’m very passionate about prioritizing that for our internal group and spreading the message externally as well.

    Phoebe: I’m the parent of two queer teens and I was raised by a single mom who worked in the Seattle theater scene, so I had many LGBTQ+ “aunties” and “uncles” who were my chosen family as I grew up. It became clear to me when my children came out how important sharing stories and representation are to being seen, included, and validated. My goal in supporting the ERG is to help build those opportunities for sharing and representation.

    Q: Do you have a call to action for the wider tech community?

    Rae: We must do better for our trans friends. There are big issues related to harassment on tech platforms, where people hide behind their keyboards and leave transphobic, horrible comments. They’re already targeted on a legislative basis and it’s not right. We need to hold each other and the tech platforms accountable. We need to do whatever we can to support and protect the trans community because they deserve to thrive.

    Phoebe: I’ll second Rae on that—anti-trans legislation is on the rise and we can do more to support organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). There are also some simple things we can do every day. As a parent and former preschool/kindergarten teacher, I have often shared this resource: 5 Things You Can Do Today To Support LGBTQ Youth.

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