Inclusion Wins


“There’s not a doubt in my mind that I can get to my career goals within the company, and I don’t have to hide any single part of who I am,” PJ says. We’re sitting in a conference room at Yelp HQ in San Francisco, video chatting with PJ (Account Executive in Phoenix), Ryan (Community Manager in Orange County), and Nell (Software Engineer in San Francisco) about what it’s like to work at Yelp as employees who identify as LGBTQIAA. PJ tells us that when she first started at Yelp, she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“It’s my first job out of college, and I definitely had some hesitations to kind of come in and be like, ‘Hey, this is me.’” Her initial fear of not being accepted by her coworkers, manager, or the company at large quickly dispersed. “I was definitely pleasantly surprised,” she tells us. She also attributes her positive experience at Yelp to OUTburst, a Yelp LGBTQIAA Employee Resource Group. She says the collective support she receives from OUTburst and her team is “something that makes a difference on a daily basis.”

“When I first started, it was a little overwhelming how forward-thinking and how comfortable everybody was,” Ryan chimes in. He pauses the conversation for a moment to address PJ. “I’m glad you work for a company like this because you’re going to have a lot of positive support,” he tells her. Ryan’s worked at Yelp for four years, so he’s definitely an authority on the topic. He tells us he’s “proud to work for the company because obviously they’re looking out for human rights versus the bottom line.” He cites “Love Wins: In Support of Marriage Equality,” a blog post that Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman wrote after the Supreme Court passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015. “I really, really appreciated that,” he says.

“This organization has a very accepting culture and a very understanding culture,” Nell says. Nell identifies as genderqueer and prefers the pronouns they and them. About a year ago, they sent out an email to the Engineering Team expressing their preferred name and preferred pronouns. Their coworkers responded to the request positively, and promptly applied the changes. “People were like, ‘OK cool, this is what we’re calling you now; these are the pronouns we’re using to refer to you.’” Nell says that this seamless shift is indicative of the kind of culture fostered at Yelp, and Ryan calls the company “a super inclusive place to work.”

“It’s a pretty exciting time to be involved in the company,” Nell continues. “I think that I complained on week two, like, ‘Why does the signup flow on the mobile app request that you select either male or female as your gender?’” Their concerns provoked discussions of creating a more inclusive product, and they reports that the company is “working on implementing a feature to support non-binary options.” Nell got to consult on the design of this feature and give constructive feedback and says “it looks like it’s going to be a pretty cool change to the product.” They credits this as a huge step in the right direction. “It’s a big change that’s happening, and I’m glad that it is,” they says.

Ryan also celebrates Yelp for its inclusivity and desire to push social change forward. “Everyone has an equal opportunity to work here, and it’s a very comforting thing to know,” he tells us. At Yelp, he explains, a person’s sexual orientation “is not something that necessarily defines you,” instead it’s “just another part of who you are.”

PJ says that how she’s viewed at Yelp is based on “my attitude and my work ethic and what I bring to the company as a person.” She continues, telling us that “no career opportunity and no amount of money is going to make me stay long-term [at a company] at the cost of having to be somebody that I’m not.” Nell adds that working at a company with an open-minded and accepting environment is “one of my first priorities” when looking for a job.

“There are tons of other opportunities, but where else are you going to be able to work for a company like this?” Ryan asks.

“We still have a long way to go,” PJ says. “But it really makes a difference to see people of all backgrounds, of all ideologies and races… come together and make you feel like your difference matters — but that we’re also here for a common goal.”

Find out more about the Yelp experience at #OrlandoStrong #YelpPride2016