At fethr, we don’t just pay lip service, equality is a core tenet of our vision.
Making our meets inclusive is an absolute priority. We wouldn’t exist without the creative power of diversity and we’re certain that compatible friendships grow best in an environment where everyone feels welcome. This pride month we’re sitting down with fethr co-founder Gerardo Rodriguez to discuss what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ founder and leader.
Hey Gerardo, got any plans for Pride Month?
Well, this year the large-scale celebration is on hold until September. However, that gives us an opportunity to think about what this month really represents: protest.
From first inception, Pride’s been a protest for equity, visibility and respect. There are loads of events this month that allow us to celebrate and remember the struggles faced by so many.
Personally, I’m super excited about the conversation event 'Reflections of Alan Turing'. I also just attended 'Pride at the Palace', a concert raising money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity.
Oh, and I’ve got my eye on a couple of Drag Brunches as well!
You mentioned Pride as symbolic of protest and an ongoing need to fight for equality. On that, how do you see your own role as a leader and a start-up founder?
Starting my career in Perth, Western Australia as a POC and a gay man, there was a frightening absence of people that looked like me in senior leadership. Without visible minority representation it’s difficult to strive for a position like that yourself.
On the flipside, I’ve also had great roles with amazing mentors who’ve helped me envisage the leader I could become.
I’ve benefited from every role I’ve been in, from Fintech to large businesses; sometimes I felt very well supported, other times not so much, but that experience has allowed me to become the leader I’d have wanted for myself.
So, step one is trusting yourself to take up positions of leadership. Incubators like the OneTech incubator help make the start-up world more accessible for underrepresented people. And communities like Out in Tech and the Intertech LGBT+ Diversity Forum help to promote LGBTQIA+ diversity in the UK tech sector.
Now I want to pay it forward and mentor others, making it happen for fethr while staying empathetic. If we make those commitments as minority leaders, we’ll be changing corporate culture from within, from a place of power.
Thinking about fethr specifically, in what ways do you think that a philosophy of equality and acceptance has shaped the business?
At fethr, I’m just one of an already diverse founding team, and that sets us up really well to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are front and centre commercially. More important than that, it's pivotal in our hiring decisions, and in the product that we’re crafting for our customers.
Above all, we want to empower everyone in the fethr community to be their authentic selves. So for example our users can select the term that best describes their gender identity and sexual orientation at sign up. The ability to display personal pronouns and self-describe is particularly important for trans and gender non-conforming people who have typically been overlooked or excluded on other technology platforms.
We also emphasise safety and security at every step of the customer journey, with a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment.
The combination of visibility, alongside freedom of expression, and the creation of a platform that from the outset was intended to break down barriers, means that fethr truly is an inclusive space for all.