2019 was a momentous year for Queertech. It was our first full year as a non-profit, and the year we truly ‘grew up,’ putting a stake in the ground about who we are, the values we stand for, and what we’re going to do to grow, foster, and support our dynamic community of queer and trans people working in tech in Montréal and New York City.

First and foremost, thank you to those of you out there that have helped us get to this point — the members, corporate partners, and volunteers that have given their time and resources. We truly couldn’t do it without you, and we’re so excited to share some of the big stuff we’re working on in 2020.

QueerTech founders Naoufel Testaouni and Andy Saldana.

This year, we’re thrilled to be launching a brand new Queer Careers program (called Qareers/Qarriéres, which will help empower more LGBTQ+ people to get into tech. Along with this will be a continuation of our PrideHacks hackathons and a host of new online resources, for individuals and companies, to not only ensure that more queer people can find opportunities in tech but also that they and the diversity and inclusion programs they’re part of can thrive. Read on for more details about these programs and initiatives, and how you can get involved.

It’s undeniable that queer people have made incredible progress in the tech industry; we’re more visible than ever, and that’s a very good thing for us and the companies we work for. But, even now (and perhaps now more than ever), we’re having conversations about what good organizational culture really means. Now is the time to dive deep into the concepts of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry — how can we ensure that it is always safe for queer people to bring their authentic selves’ to work? It’s very easy for a company to say it supports its LGBTQ+ employees; our role as QueerTech is to make sure companies follow through on their promises (and help them get there, when necessary).

QueerTech founder Naoufel Testaouni addresses the crowds at QueerTech’s 2019 PrideHacks cocktail reception, during Fierté MTL.

Last year, we experimented with different types of programming to further this mission. We forged new partnerships with other LGBTQ+ organizations (like Fondation Emergence, Image+Nation, and VentureOut), we partnered with more Montréal companies, and we grew our membership through events. We observed a considerable interest from companies in strengthening their diversity and inclusion programs, to ensure that queer people can access opportunities and be authentic at work. We’ll be launching more details about our specific programming soon, but in 2020 we’re planning:

  • Qareers/Qarriéres events, which help connect tech workers and students of all levels in Montréal with employers that have strong diversity and inclusion policies.
  • Online resources to help members of the QueerTech community access job resources in tech.
  • Online resources and outreach to help tech companies hire inclusively and implement diversity and inclusion practices successfully.
  • Resources for tech entrepreneurs who identify as queer, to help them access business and innovation funding and support.

Making connections at QueerTech’s PrideHacks 2019 opening reception, during Fierté MTL.

Of course, we’ll also be continuing our PrideHacks events, which bring the community together for hackathons that seek to help LGBTQ+ non-profits solve problems and challenges using technological innovation.

There continues to be a diversity problem in tech, and our role within the industry is to help change that together. The queer community is inherently diverse; we are made up of many types of people, and because of that we are able to look at things through the lens of intersectionality. This is beneficial to us — we’re able to come together to find more innovative solutions to problems, but it’s also beneficial for organizations seeking to be more intersectional and diverse in their own business and hiring practices.

Founders Naoufel Testaouni and Andy Saldana with some friends of QueerTech.

QueerTech strives to queer the tech ecosystem by breaking down barriers, creating spaces, and connecting communities to support and empower LGBTQ2S+ people for them to thrive. In order to do that, we need to come together. What started as a simple Meetup group has now transformed into a community of more than 4000 members and growing. If you work in tech, want to work in tech, or run a tech company, we want to hear from you: do you need support or resources to advance your career? Does your company need help becoming more inclusive and supportive of queer employees? We can help. If you have a physical space we can use for a community event, or would like to assist us in any way as a volunteer, please let us know (we have a lot of fun, too!).

And sometimes, volunteering comes with cupcakes!

There are many within our queer community that are vulnerable, some even more than others. Together, we can create a central organization for those people to turn to when they need support. The world is moving quickly; queer people deserve an equal chance to prosper in tech, and indeed, the tech community needs our abilities and unique perspectives to prosper in a truly meaningful way. We want to be the glue that holds our community together, and we hope you’ll join and help us. Continue to watch this space, and our Twitter and Facebook, for the latest news about QueerTech events and initiatives.

Let’e make 2020 the best year yet to be queer in tech!

-Naoufel and Andy