How Lesbians Who Tech & Allies Founder Leanne Pittsford Is Increasing LGBTQ Representation in Tech

June 18, 2021
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Welcome to our monthly editorial series A Day in the Life where we ask successful women we admire to share the daily minutiae of their professional lives, from the rituals that set them up for success to their evening wind-down routines. This month, we caught up with Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech & Allies and Include.io, to talk about making the tech industry more inclusive, bringing LGBTQ women and non-binary tech folks together, and being included in Fast Company’s Queer 50.

Tell us a bit about Lesbians Who Tech & Allies and what inspired you to launch your business. What whitespace did you see in the market? What need did you want to fill?

Ha, such a big question. Basically, when I started my tech company back in the day, I struggled to find LGBTQ women as role models and peers. Every event I went to, I noticed LGBTQ women were missing from the conversation. I wanted to make sure our voices were represented and I knew if I struggled finding a community then maybe there were others who were looking for the same thing. Turns out, there were so many more than I originally anticipated. Since the start of Lesbians Who Tech & Allies, I’ve seen more communities coming together creating organizations to make tech more representative and it’s really impactful.

You’re also the founder of Include.io, a platform that connects diverse tech job seekers with great companies. What compelled you to launch this platform? 

I’ve always been involved in LGBTQ organizations and have made an active effort to continue creating conversations around representation and inclusion in workplaces, tech specifically. I was the senior director of equality in California, which led the fight against Prop 8 (which aimed to make same-sex marriage illegal). I kind of fell in love with tech after being so in the trenches with this campaign. The data, the community, and the passion is really what led to my career moves. Through shared experiences and talking with others, I realized that a lot of other queer tech folks experienced the same issues within the tech space.

Now, let’s talk about your workday routine! First, are you a night owl or a morning person? When do you do your most important work and why?

In my old life, I was a night owl. Now, post two babies, I am a whenever-the-coffee-hits-my-bloodstream person.  

What time does your alarm go off, and what’s the first thing you do upon waking?

What alarm? I am just breastfeeding all night right now. I typically just set a mental alarm. I take too much advantage of the snooze button when I use them. 

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like?

Feeding all the children and pups, and making my Moka pot coffee with beans from one of my favorite coffee shops.

Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

I usually send a few voice notes to a few teammates to check-in for the day’s to-do list! 

What are you working on this week?

Pride Summit! We just launched the agenda today! 

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your business? 

My favorite part is being in the Castro Theatre with all of my people, and feeling the energy that only comes from thousands of LGBTQ women and non-binary folks getting together in one room. I never would’ve thought that something I started would end up being the largest LGBTQ professional event and the largest event for women in tech globally (last year, anyway). Not to mention this year’s Fast Company’s Queer 50. Knowing we are responsible for making the invisible, visible is everything. 

Do you ever reach inbox zero? How do you handle the constant influx of inquiries and communication founders are so familiar with?

Twice a year, usually two to three weeks after Summit. 

What is your go-to work lunch?

Cheez-Its.

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