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How can men be better allies to women in tech? Find out from 3 of Bumble’s male leaders.

Bumble Male Allies

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Bumble’s mission is to make all relationships healthy and equitable. We recently caught up with 3 of their male leaders to find out how they are allies to women in tech and other marginalised groups both within Bumble and in their customer community.

Bumble’s mission is to make all relationships healthy and equitable. 

As a dating app (and now – a thriving global community and networking platform) the goal was to encourage women to make the first move, but today that goal transcends their app and is upheld within their own business internally.

We recently caught up with 3 male leaders to find out what it’s like to work for a woman-founded and driven company. They also share how they support and advocate for women and other marginalised groups both within Bumble and in their customer community.

What’s it like to work for a women-founded/driven company?

allies to womenChristian:

I always look forward to people asking me what I do for a living because I can enthuse about how values-driven we are – and those are values I wholeheartedly subscribe to.  We want to make moves for the good of society, moves that change lives positively. Whitney, our CEO, is incredibly driven by those values, and utterly earnest in her belief in them. That belief is infectious! When I go about my day-to-day, and I talk to my teams about the decisions they have to make, that sentiment is always front of mind.

allies to womenManassie:

This is an interesting question because strictly speaking you absolutely want the answer to be “no different to working at a company founded by a man”. The gender of the leader shouldn’t really determine with great effect the experience of the staff. Thankfully, this is by and large the case, however, it would be unfair to not acknowledge the nuances that a woman brings to the position.

Nuances that are by their nature subtle but go a long way to promoting a positive perception of the company and environment in which you work. Amplified messaging around mental health week backed by support in the way of mental health breaks and particularly ‘Focus Fridays’. Company-wide participation in the acknowledgment of IWD and an attitude that seeks to elevate the causes that are important to the staff as well as on mission for the brand, make a contribution to the differences found.

This isn’t to say that only a woman leader can bring these nuances to the fore but it is not an experience I’ve had to this degree within organizations led by men, but I hope that will change in the future!

How do you ensure that women in the business (particularly in tech roles) feel supported?

allies to womenMarc:

Of course, first of all, offering them exactly the same treatment, respect, and opportunities. Transparency, clear and respectful communication, and a balance between equal opportunities are key. If we find ourselves in a situation where a woman feels intimidated by a situation or conflict, we must always act and help her in mutual agreement with her. And last but not least, lead by example: publicly show respect and admiration for her career path and accomplishments without specifically mentioning her gender but based on professional evidence and achievements.

Christian:

Representation matters. We have been working hard to recruit as high a proportion of women as possible, across the whole spectrum. The fact that 73% of our board are women and we have gender equity amongst our executive leadership is a very powerful message to others in the company. Whilst the pressure to hire fast and grow ambitiously is palpable, in engineering sometimes we make sure we are a little stubborn and push harder to fill more of our new positions with brilliant, talented women.

We invest a lot internally in education and public dialogue, particularly on matters relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion: hosting internal panels (we recently held one on women in tech), bringing in guest speakers, training, and constant, meaningful discussion on Slack.

And, of course, we expect everyone to live by our values, which means being kind and supporting anyone and everyone, regardless of their background or identity. How you go about your business is equally as important as what you do, and you will get called up on it if your behavior is not acceptable. That’s reflected in our engineering committees, how we collaborate in cross-functional teams, and how we conduct code reviews.

Why do you think it’s important to have a workforce that represents your diverse global user base?

Marc:

Because it is impossible for a large company with a large volume of employees to have a 100% shared awareness and culture. These teams assure us that we will always keep diversity in mind in our daily lives and that we will respect and value it. It is also important that they remember the benefits of having a high rate of diversity.

Manassie:

A diverse workforce can provide insight into ideas that we might overlook or have no knowledge of. The ‘woman first’ message may not be directly translatable in different cultures for example. Diversity increases our chances of understanding so many of the rich cultural perspectives and ultimately opens us up to greater degrees of creativity and innovation.

Being aware of cultural sensitivity, insight, and local knowledge increases our chances of best addressing the needs and wants of all our customers globally. Centering our focus on the individuals, aids in providing a relatable experience to the masses.

In your experience, how are Bumble’s teams working to build more inclusive and equitable spaces both in your organisation and on your apps?

Christian:

By making issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion a constant part of the dialogue we have as a company, it’s always front and centre – so it’s incredibly hard for us not to think about how we can impact them constructively in everything we do.  Within our product practice, under-served audiences are one of our key themes, by working in cross-functional teams, engineers engage much more deeply with the ‘why’ of what we do. We have an internal function that promotes education, awareness, and dialogue, and which supports self-organised groups within the company – Asian pride is one example that is close to my heart. There’s also our work to influence public policy, for example – our recent work to back a new law to curb online sexual harassment.

Something I find very powerful is a public Slack channel where anyone can post feedback from social channels about where Bumble is not serving certain audiences well enough. The feedback is raw, open, heartfelt, and serves as an ongoing reminder of how we can do better for our customers. That feedback is discussed both at ground level and with our leadership. The hardest part for us is not being able to do everything at once, so living with those priority decisions is very challenging. That constant feedback channel is a constant reminder to us, so we don’t lose sight of issues that matter.

Manassie:

Cross department/team/platform communication is a big part of everyday Bumble life. We have regular ‘all-hands’ and open format Q&A sessions with the CEO and the company President.

Open, honest, and considerate communication is a large part of our foundations here at Bumble; through these fundamental principles, we encourage dialogue around inclusion and equity. Most importantly the conversation(s) include all voices.
Inclusivity is a subject we as a company have been discussing for a while and we’ve made progress. Ultimately, the conversation needs to remain an open and consistent one, as it won’t be a cause that is fixed overnight because it wasn’t an issue created overnight. The continued commitment to improving inclusion and equity is a mission in and of itself and I’m so glad that we at Bumble have chosen to tackle it.

How can men be better allies for women in tech?

Marc:

Understanding and valuing women’s strengths beyond all the stereotypes in society. And finally, and not only with respect to gender, accept that we are all different and that is the great power of a team. If we are all the same, we will always follow the same path and it will be more difficult to improve. This is called complacency … A diverse environment will prevent that.

Christian:

Don’t assume we know what their experience is. Accept that some of our behaviours and preconceived notions might be – albeit unwittingly – contributing to what makes a woman’s experience in tech less pleasant. Be willing to talk to women we work with about their reality, be willing to listen, and be willing to change our behaviours. Opening ourselves up to the possibility that we’re part of the problem will make us feel vulnerable at first, but will make us stronger, kinder allies for it.

Manassie:

Speak Up – It’s often the case that non-inclusive or bad behaviour is witnessed but met with silence. It’s important you speak up for the benefit of those who can’t and to benefit the general culture.

Get to grips with inclusive language – it might seem a small adjustment but it is extremely important in recognising and supporting your colleagues.

Amplify the points, views and opinions of your colleagues, make sure credit is given where due. It is important that the views/points/opinions are valid; token gestures of support just because a person is from an underrepresented cohort can be considered insulting.

Invite feedback – be sure to be open to feedback, you want to understand how your actions/approach is being experienced by others, so be prepared to make adjustments if necessary.

If you are a hiring manager, really review your job listings to ensure they are free of non-inclusive language.

Listen, support and champion organisations and causes that provide a STEM framework that grows our young minds.

It’s also important to market/sell ‘tech’ positions more effectively. I feel like there is a general idea that ‘tech’ is coding, client, frontend, backend. In actual fact ‘tech’ encompasses ‘design’, ‘UI/UX’, ‘User Safety’, ‘Marketing’ and more… let’s not make ‘tech’ seem so narrow a field.

 

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