AJ Fernandez Rivera’s push to make queer management a norm in tech | Savvy Tech



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Would-be gamers within the tech business want look no additional than AJ Fernandez Rivera for inspiration. The business pioneer has modest roots, having began out as a pc programmer within the Nineties, working her approach throughout the US, UK and Asia-Pacific. She is now the CEO of Accenture Canada.

However working in IT is not the one factor she’s identified for. Whereas it is definitely a ardour, she additionally advocates for queer folks in tech and talks concerning the many challenges they face. You already know from expertise that this business is an effective place to work, but when present obstacles aren’t addressed, the tech business will miss out on gifted folks seeking to do what they love.

This “private ardour” stems from the challenges Fernández Rivera confronted, as soon as feeling alone in an area that refused to know her.

Unconscious biases are one of many largest challenges, mentioned Fernández Rivera cell syrup. The thought course of includes folks utilizing unconscious beliefs and stereotypes to categorize folks into completely different teams. Everybody has them, however they could not know when they’re utilizing them.

“If you end up a queer individual and also you be part of the business, you can’t be your true self,” mentioned Fernández Rivera. “If we take away that barrier and make it an accepting setting, the potential for queer folks to essentially eradicate chatter in [their] head and simply see how [their] I authenticate…[they’ll] be checked out on expertise and expertise slightly than how [they] they pack themselves.”

Hiding his true and genuine self is a battle that Fernández Rivera skilled. When she began working at Accenture in 1997, Fernández Rivera didn’t reveal her id as a trans lady. Her skilled life differed from her private one; she felt that the business was not prepared for her.

However he did not let unconscious self-doubt within the business cease him from doing a job he cherished. He shortly rose by way of the corporate ranks and established an LGBTQ+ community in Accenture’s Asia-Pacific area. Fernández Rivera was a robust voice for the LGBTQ+ group at his firm, however questions remained.

Popping out of the closet in his skilled life was an enormous determination. He knew that the business wouldn’t change if he continued to cover who he was. Being alone within the know-how business put a “burden” on her shoulders and he or she did not need others to be in the identical place. “The problem has all the time been to be a singular particular person, a singular individual within the business. I do not need it to be [a challenge] sooner or later,” he mentioned.

The ultimate push got here by way of a telephone name along with her greatest buddy within the UK final yr. That buddy informed Fernández Rivera that visibility issues. “When you do not inform your story, I do not suppose issues will change,” Fernández Rivera remembers what her buddy informed her.

He took an enormous step and was pleasantly shocked. When he got here out to the corporate from him, he obtained nothing however assist. She felt protected.

Fernández Rivera (second from the fitting) talking on a panel on the QT Qonference. Picture Credit score: Karishma Singh/ Check Methods

However Fernández Rivera acknowledges that everybody has their very own path to return out of the closet. The perfect the business can do is make it a protected setting for folks to be themselves.

Unconscious bias coaching is useful, Fernández Rivera mentioned. Accenture carried out the coaching in its workplaces world wide and plenty of staff discovered it helpful. Coaching is now necessary within the firm. Permitting staff to declare their pronouns additionally helps lots, a observe that may be executed no matter business.

In November, Fernández Rivera was a part of a panel on the QT Qonference. It was the primary convention hosted by QueerTech, a corporation that focuses on making the tech business inclusive of LGBTQ2S+ folks. The panel additionally featured audio system from the federal authorities, who shared that they had been additionally adopting the observe of permitting staff to share private pronouns.

Fernández Riveria mentioned she was “shocked” to listen to this. “If we normalize it… I believe it might encourage increasingly more folks to really feel protected within the tech business.”

Facilitating work in know-how additionally requires a panorama change with completely different sectors, together with non-public, authorities, educational, and non-profit organizations. “As a result of if we wish a change within the panorama, everybody should work collectively. The final word purpose is to guarantee that the tech area is before everything a protected area for queer folks to construct careers and be happy with.”

The panel was additionally a preview of what is potential and the flexibility for a number of gamers to work collectively to make a change. However there isn’t a singular reply to why it took so lengthy for a gathering just like the QT Qonference to return collectively on a big scale.

Fernández Riveria believes that point performed a task, because it took time for folks in management roles to appreciate the obstacles. She believes that having queer folks in management positions performed a task in creating extra visibility and success.

So what can the tech business and others prefer it do to maneuver ahead? Fernández Riveria says they should assessment their insurance policies. Displaying private pronouns “issues lots”. Mentoring and offering advantages that staff are pleased with additionally play a task. Tech firms must also create companion applications.

“The truth is, I need to look ahead to the day when there are extra [queer] folks in management positions as a result of there’s energy in numbers.”

Picture credit score: Annayah Jean (AJ) Fernández Rivera/Linkedin


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AJ Fernandez Rivera’s push to make queer leadership a norm in tech