Build an LGBTQ-Inclusive Company
A few months ago, we had the chance to interview badass founder of Pipeline Angels, Natalia Oberti Norguera for one of our clients on how she is literally redefining the face of angel investing by training and empowering women and femmes to become seasoned angel investors. You can find that full interview in Her Agenda.
Spinster had the additional chance to pick Natalia’s brain on how startups with a progressive platform can ensure we are building a space that is inclusive for ALL women and femmes, including across the LGBTQ spectrum. Below, you’ll find Natalia’s six tips on how to build an inclusive startup!
1. Start with acknowledgement of your own privilege
I’ll start a talk or a speech and say, “Who are the white men of women’s networks? White women.” Right? It starts with an acknowledgement. We (need to) acknowledge where we fit.
There’s a book by a white queer woman Laura Liswood, called The Loudest Duck. One of the things she shared that has stayed with me is this a fable of a mouse and an elephant that live in the same room. The mouse knows everything about the elephant – when the elephant goes to bed, when the elephant is walking around, when the elephant is eating, when the elephant goes to the bathroom. Because the mouse’s survival really depends on knowing everything about the elephant.
The elephant doesn’t even know there's a mouse in the room. So thinking about these power dynamics – in which rooms are we the elephants? And in which rooms, are we the mouse?
2. Make lemons into lemonade
Let's quote Beyoncé and her mother-in-law, ‘how can we make those lemons into lemonades?’
What would you have liked to have seen in your (old) job? What are the things in the status quo that weren’t working, such as a word that’s derogatory like ‘Spinster’? Why should that be a negative concept?
Thinking about that, and use that to inform your first version of what sort of culture you want to have. What was it you didn’t respond to or were disappointed in (in your corporate jobs), and then go to the word “abundance.” What is the abundant, anti-version of those things you hated?
3. Be explicit
If you want to be inclusive, be explicit. This is exactly the whole point of our Pipeline Angels mission: it says anyone identifying with womanhood -- cis, trans, third gender is encouraged to apply.
4. Broaden the conversation around what counts as diversity
We need to have even bigger, broader conversations. Even when it comes to transphobia - my calling it out. My saying, hey, my gender pronouns are she/her. You know what? it doesn’t exhaust me the way it exhausts me when I’m calling out sexism, when I’m calling out racism, when I’m callout out homophobia. That was my huge, big, ‘aha’ moment. Those things are personal. I take it personally. In some ways, I’m there defending my right to exist - who I am - my humanity.
When I realized this, 'I’m like, ‘wow! How much easier?’ And it doesn’t exhaust me to talk about transphobia or share my gender pronoun…I was like, ‘Oh my gosh! Why aren’t more white people calling out racism? What aren’t more men calling out sexism? Why aren’t more straight people calling out homophobia?’ It doesn’t affect them personally. So its not going to drain them they way that, for those of us who are part of those marginalized communities, it drains us.
5. Get innovative on visual representation
If it’s not working, maybe it mean that you need to…I’m going to be cheeky here, but one of the things I love about Spinster is that there is the ‘spin’ part the Spinster. It’s both the spin, because you’re about the narrative and the word. But its also the fact that by your coming in and supporting these companies. you’re coming and providing the needed spin. “Spin” also means - hey, I doubled in econ and comparative literature so I’m totally going there - its not just the spin in terms of the spin, its that idea of, the change in the grease. There’s a reframing, right?
So if the visuals you’re finding (for your website) are leaving you disappointed, there might be a reason for that. Maybe it’s illustrations – coming up with a spin of the “1950s”. Maybe its, like, haven’t we had enough of MAGA? Do we really need those sorts of like…it’s okay in some sense to reclaim that. But are there certain things that, do we really want to reclaim that? When there are so many negative things about them?
6. Remember that there's more than one way to change the world
I personally don’t think the answer is that we all become entrepreneurs. Particularly for the women and femmes that are in the corporate world. If someone is doing well and enjoying their profession, then go ahead to continue to create wealth and a way that you can still be tapped into the startup ecosystem by investing in companies. Continue climbing the ladder, continue to build and grow that wealth, and then go to Pipeline Angels and invest in companies. That’s another way someone can play an important role without being redundant in terms of, “Oh, the only way in is to become a founder.” Someone could be a really great board member of a startup in addition to being an investor. It goes back to the smart money of human capital, social capital and financial capital.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was updated after the original time of publication to reflect language used by the interviewee and to add important, contextual responses to the final interview.