For Kate Stapleton (she/her), a cornerstone of tech’s development forward is a growing focus on accessibility and decentralization. Born and raised in Toronto (with extensive stays in the US, Europe and South Africa due to her mother’s international work), Kate holds a BBA from York University in Toronto and a second degree in English Lit from Concordia University in Montréal, the city she now calls home with her rescue dog from Lebanon. Kate’s tech background is rooted in her years spent as a cyber security researcher coupled with experience as a red team member, and the progression into her current full time career in blockchain—along with adjacent positions as the Blockchain Education Network’s VP and Axelar’s community lead—makes for a unique pathway in tech.
As Founder and CEO of Future Capital, Marlon Thompson is working towards the transformation of the North American startup environment. Drawing from his personal experience as a startup founder, Thompson also steps in as an angel investor, providing the vital early seed money for groundbreaking innovation, with a key focus on funding the ideas of underrepresented leaders in the startup ecosystem.
An advocate for diversification in business, Marlon has collaborated with high-profile companies like Hootsuite Media and Highline Beta, developing and guiding diversity initiatives designed specifically for investors and founders alike. This work has also earned him a spot on the Advisory Council for Diversity at lululemon, just one of several examples of his work making a real, tangible difference.
Finding a job can be a long and difficult process, and finding one where you’re sure you’ll feel safe being 100% yourself can make it even harder. So many companies claim to value diversity, but how do you know that they really mean it? It can be hard to determine, but there are a few things you can do to navigate these tricky issues. Below are two clear ways you can determine whether an employer will end up being a safe and rewarding environment to work in, collected from QueerTech’s partners (who we’ve identified as safe spaces for queer employees).
Coming out of the closet can be a difficult thing to do, and there’s no one way to go about it. Sometimes we come out slowly over time, only letting a select trusted few in on our secret at first. Some of us never come out, and some of us choose to come out in our personal lives, but keep that private in our professional life. For Shaun Lavelle (he/him), coming out in all facets of his life happened all at once, and he’s been thankful ever since.
Shaun took his first job in banking 25 years ago and he now boasts a dynamic professional career leading risk management and operations in both established and entrepreneurial organizations in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, North America, and more.
He moved from banking to card processing at the inception of WorldPay where he started in business development, ultimately heading the company’s global risk team. He has also held positions as the director of risk at Euroconnex (now Elavon), VP, risk operations at Optimal Payments, and COO at Cashflows, and currently runs the Paysafe Irvine office. Obviously, he’s had an impressive professional life, and he’s been able to be “out of the closet” at work through it all.
Susan Shu Chang (she/her) has followed a bit of a winding professional path all her life. Currently, she's a principal data scientist at Elastic, a platform for search-powered solutions. She’s also a committee member of Aggregate Intellect, a machine learning platform with 13k+ YouTube subscribers, and the founder of Quill Game Studios. At the time of her interview she was a principal data scientist at Clearco, a fintech company providing growth capital for online businesses.
All of that said, you might be surprised to learn that she never formally studied coding and, in fact, her educational background is in economics. In a truly inspiring example of unique skill building, Susan simply pursued the skills she thought were interesting. This helped her accumulate the perfect combination of skills for the career she’s currently pursuing.
To everyone who came together to make it a great success! Whether you were with us on-line or in-person, your contribution was truly felt!
Photo Credit: Adam Zivo
Wow, what an amazing past couple of months, and what a tremendous PrideHacks season!
Here’s What we accomplished at both PrideHacks events-
- 200+ attendees at each, the Toronto and Montreal cocktails
- 60 dedicated volunteer hackers attended each hackathon
- 13 nonprofit organizations received tech solutions ranging from websites to data management solutions (6 during Toronto and 7 in Montreal)
- Overall 1400 volunteer hours were contributed to building technology for stronger communities across both events.
Photo Credit: Samuel Villeneuve
THANK YOU to our nonprofit partners, you are the reason why we organize PrideHacks! Thank you to our supporting partners - we could not make it PrideHacks free and accessible to our community without your support!
Photo Credit: Adam Zivo
Photo Credit: Adam Zivo
Thank you to our nonprofit partners: AIESEC, AGIR Montréal, Black Executive Leadership Initiative (BELI), Buckskin Babes Urban Moose Hide Tanning Collective, image+nation, Project 10, and The LGBT+ Family Coalition
Thank you to our supporting partners: (Unicorn) Moment Factory and PwC Canada (Pride) Cloud Chamber, Google Chrome, TouchTunes and Accenture (Ally) Sun Life Financial, Fierté Montreal, Twitter (Qmunity) ORO Health, Osedea and Pride at Work Canada.
As a part of our program QT Care, we teamed up with Hao Wu Financial Solutions inc. under the Sun Life banner to deliver a 6-part Financial Health Webinar series. We know discussing finances can be tough and confusing, especially in the current economic climate; therefore, we partnered with Jeffrey Wu and Julien Valat, advisors working extensively with members of 2SLGBTQ+ community in QC, ON & BC, to create a safe space to learn about some of these most important financial topics.
As we are midway in our series, we would like to recap the first 3 webinars already presented, and give you a preview of what is coming next!
To review your specific situation, we encourage you to reach out directly to them since knowing this information doesn’t reliably change behaviour, and is only winning half the battle. You can book their time for a virtual introduction meeting here: https://calendly.com/haowufinancialsolutions/queertech-members-introduction
Most employers want to create a work environment that feels safe for their employees, but the reality of this can often be more complicated than it seems. How do you make sure 2SLGBTQ+ people can be their authentic selves, completely free from all forms of judgement, harassment, or discrimination?
A properly resourced Employee Resource Group (ERG) with a clear mission and plan is often the most powerful way to create and ensure a safe work environment. While many of the companies QueerTech works with have established at least one ERG for 2SLGBTQ+ employees, it’s not always clear how exactly these groups should be organized and what they should be doing. If you’ve decided that an ERG would be right for your company, but you’re still confused about how it works and how to start one, we’re here to help!
When it comes to ERGs, Accenture sets a stellar example. The company has hundreds of thousands of employees around the world, and it’s dedicated to making sure that all of them feel safe and welcome at work. For example, Accenture’s Pride at Accenture ERG is very large and very active, setting an example for other ERGs at the company, large and small. Here’s how its members do it.
With international borders beginning to open up again, we recognize that some of our readers may be feeling restless and eager to travel. With that in mind, we wanted to resurface the conversation we had with Athena Lam (she/her) about her amazing global professional journey. At the time of our conversation, Athena was a B2B content marketer at Passbase, an identity verification company with offices in Berlin and New York City. Today she is a Senior Content Manager at Pitch where she creates content to help individuals and teams shape, share, and present their best thinking at work.
She is a board member at Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice 世代同行會, based in Vancouver's Chinatown and Planet Ally, a global LGBTQ travel and human rights advocacy platform.
Athena Lam, Senior Content Manager, Editorial, Pitch