Inside Uplight’s Organized Marginalized Genders Group

By Rachael Silverstein on

Jen and Emily

Uplight’s Organized Marginalized Genders (OMG) Employee Resource Group (ERG) is a community for Uplight employees who identify as a marginalized gender. Formerly “Women of Uplight,” OMG actively works to ensure their group is inclusive and welcoming to all marginalized genders and offers support, builds community, and advocates for organizational transformation. 

Here we speak to OMG’s leaders, Natalia Tanko and Rowan Kowalsky, about their experiences working at Uplight:

What are your roles and what do you do at Uplight?

Natalia Tanko: I work as a Product Owner for our Data Operations teams. I help plan and facilitate our operational data maintenance for Uplight clients.

Rowan Kowalsky: I am a Product Operations Manager for the Home Energy Report (HER) product line. I oversee day-to-day operations for all HER that are managed by Uplight’s Boulder pod. 

Tell me about your ERG, its members, and the goals of the group.

Natalia: OMG (Organized Marginalized Genders) of Uplight is for anyone who identifies as a marginalized gender (woman, non-binary, transgender, gender non-conforming, etc.). We changed our name from “Women of Uplight” to include anyone who has faced a form of oppression related to misogyny or patriarchy. The technology sector traditionally has been a very male-dominated space, so it’s critical to have a group that creates space for “non-men” to have community and conversation. 

Rowan: OMG is a place of community, support, validation, and growth for anyone with marginalized experiences in life due to their gender. We have about 130 Uplighters in the group. Most of our events and connections happen organically. We celebrate all intersections of gendered experiences in OMG and strive to host intentional programming in collaboration with other ERGs, like UNA-POC: BIPOC and PRISM. I’m also excited to work with the folks in Pune, India to ensure that this space is a community for them.

My favorite moment with this group was when we created programming to acknowledge, celebrate, and listen to all the amazing women at Uplight. We created a message board for all women at Uplight for everyone to come and brag about all of their female colleagues. I turned each woman’s brag board into a postcard and mailed each of them out! I can’t wait to do something similar again but for everyone in the company this time. 

What makes working at Uplight great for marginalized genders at Uplight?

Natalia: At Uplight we have leadership that acknowledges where we are and how we can grow and amazing people who are open to challenging conversations.

Rowan: Uplight is the only company I’ve worked for that genuinely works to ensure gender equality. We still have plenty of work to do, but Uplight is honest about that too. There is a much more equal distribution of genders at all levels at Uplight since its founding and I think this is a good company for marginalized genders to find leadership and mentorship roles. As a woman, I’ve generally felt that I always had a mentor to go to and feel safe bringing up gender-based issues I’ve experienced. Uplight is conscious of the different ways growth can look and is becoming more inclusive of how gender can influence those paths. I’m excited to keep growing here!

What do you think Uplight should aspire to be or do to better support marginalized genders at Uplight?

Natalia: We can definitely have women and diverse genders in leadership (and more POC in leadership) as well as resources for folks who want to expand their careers (especially towards engineering/more technical roles) hire more women and diverse genders, especially in engineering roles. 

Rowan: I would like to see Uplight focus on leadership development for women and other marginalized genders and for OMG to host educational programming for Uplight on gender diversity. Incorporating gender diversity into our manager training would benefit our leadership at all levels to develop better connections, metrics, and work distributions for their direct reports. Growth and self-advocacy look different to different people and having that diversity at high levels is incredibly helpful as examples. Uplight has made impressive improvements in gender ratios across many departments and I’m excited to see us continue to improve. 

What would you say to other marginalized genders who are looking at working at Uplight?

Natalia: This is a fantastic place to work-especially the people. I truly believe Uplight is making great strides and committed to being an equitable, impactful, supportive place to work. 

Rowan: If your gender identity has marginalized experiences in your life, or would like to listen to the voices of people whose gender identity has marginalized them, then this is a community that will welcome you! Tech can be an intimidating space to join and OMG aims to make that an easier transition by acting as a support system while you explore and grow in this space. 

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