“We're always looking to build our community and safe places for people who are like us,” says Justin Finnegan, the leader in charge of Wealthsimple’s 2SLGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), known as Rainbow. Finnegan and his team are devoted to helping the employees of Wealthsimple “find their people” – something crucial to easing the stress of coming into a new workplace. Rainbow’s efforts have grown considerably over the past few years; proof of how important the group has become.
Back in 2018, when Rainbow was founded, it consisted mostly of allies. At first, it was hard for the group to find a purpose, which resulted in an unfortunate lack of community. After Wealthsimple employees shifted to mostly remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rainbow took on a new level of purpose and began to really take off with the help of communication tools like Slack.
Thanks to some incredible early champions, Rainbow members identified that their major goals included showing the outside community that Wealthsimple was an inclusive workplace and finding avenues to recruit more 2SLGBTQ+ employees. To achieve these goals, the group has done a number of things, including becoming one of the much-appreciated sponsors of QueerTech’s Qareer’s Virtual Job Fair!
In order to create a safe space for 2SLGBTQ+ employees at Wealthsimple, Rainbow has been responsible for creating two separate channels on their company Slack. The first is a public channel for “Rainbow and allies,” where anyone can meet and talk openly about Rainbow and their activities.
However, the group has also taken the considerate extra step of creating a private channel just for 2SLGBTQ+ employees. It’s a place where community members can speak privately without the fear of outing themselves at work, which can create a lot of anxiety for people who haven’t decided if they want that part of their lives known at work.
The existence of Rainbow, and its private 2SLGBTQ+ channel, is clearly communicated to all new employees in the onboarding process, which gives everyone the opportunity to access the group on their own time if they choose to. Rainbow’s mission to foster an inclusive workplace doesn’t just stop there, though, and the group has taken plenty of action to create change.
Education and advocacy
Of course, creating an inclusive work environment goes beyond recruitment and safe private spaces. Rainbow endeavours to improve the sense of inclusion at Wealthsimple by hosting events that help everyone come together as a community and learn about real, concrete ways they can make change. Increasing knowledge is an important step in improving inclusivity, and Rainbow is helping Wealthsimple employees learn by creating interactive educational opportunities for everyone.
These kinds of events include lunch and learn sessions with folks like Winnie Luk from Rainbow Railroad, an organization that helps LGBTQ+ people escape state-sponsored violence. They’ve also sponsored reads like “We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir” by Samra Habib for the company book club, and make space and time during company-wide meetings to educate the broader organization about 2SLGBTQ+ issues and charities they can support. teach about important 2SLGBTQ+ organizations and encourage donations.
And of course, one of their proudest accomplishments was working with Wealthsimple’s people-operations team to implement an official internal employee name change policy, and add gender affirming health coverage to their employee benefit’s package.
What you can do
If you’re interested in working in an industry that is making real change towards fostering inclusive work environments, then a career in tech might just be what you’re looking for. You can find job postings for Wealthsimple, and other companies that we trust, on the QueerTech job board. You can also learn more about Wealthsimple and the kinds of people who work there by watching our QueerTech Connect session with Lisa Durnford.
If you already work in the tech industry, and you want to help make change, follow the example of the Wealthsimple employees who formed Rainbow. Try forming your own ERG, sponsor events that improve awareness, or just create a private safe space to talk. Every little bit counts, and it all adds up to big change in the end.
Watch our conversation with Lisa below!