This week, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Paul Leninger (Analyst at Cogo-supported company, Minerva Analytics), Kenzie Marsh (Analyst at Minerva Analytics), and Julia Bujalski (UI/UX Designer at Cogo Labs) to learn more about Cogo Spectra, our LGBTQIA+ affinity group here at Cogo. To better understand how Cogo Spectra supports an inclusive environment at Cogo, we dug deep on the Who, What, Where, and When of the collective.
So, by definition of the mission statement, what is Cogo Spectra?
In short, Spectra is a supportive and affirming space for LGBTQIA+ people to work. The goal is to foster an inclusive environment of affirmation through acts of service, community events, recruiting outreach, and active dialogue about the unique challenges facing LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.
Why was Cogo Spectra started? Who determined there was a need?
When [Kenzie and I] started here, there weren’t any LGBTQIA+focused groups, and we felt like that community here consisted of some vibrant individuals that would like to have representation here. Spectra is also fundamentally important because a lot of verticals supported by Cogo are very small, so they might not on their own have a large enough community of people to feel like it’s an inclusive environment. By having Cogo Spectra span across Cogo and our supporting companies, we can provide the inclusive environment that you might find at a larger company, but with the benefit of working at a smaller startup". -Paul Leninger
"Building that community and having that space to speak about specific issues and whatever you’re going through with people that you automatically know are going to understand it - is a safe space. Our slogan for Cogo Spectra is 'We welcome all who welcome all.'" -Kenzie Marsh
What's the past, present and future of Cogo Spectra look like?
“In our second week at Cogo, we had the yearly Cogo cruise in July, and Paul and I went up to Eli Rider (a former Cogo Senior Analyst) and asked why there wasn’t a gay club at Cogo. After our conversation on the cruise, Eli started the idea of Cogo Spectra. Spectra hosted a couple of events with about 10 or so people for a few months. Events consisted of going out for pizza with a small, eclectic group. There were volunteering events, such as volunteering at a youth homeless shelter. Originally named, Rainbow Rocket, Cogo Spectra came from the idea of a “spectrum” where there are more colors rather than just those in the rainbow." -Kenzie Marsh
"When Eli left Cogo, she asked if we would continue the club, so Kenzie and I decided to go a little bigger, and pitch a budget for events, planning, and recruiting. Now a group of 80+ people, a majority of the people who attend events, etc. are allies. It’s very affirming to know there is such a large community of allies, and it makes the safe space feel a lot less confined to people who identify as LGBTQIA+. People company-wide are attending events, with over 40 signed up to attend Boston Pride 2019 this weekend.
As for the future, we’re having a big recruiting event in the Fall of this year, bringing in people from the Boston tech community for a networking event. We also have our own Pride 2019 playlist on Spotify that anyone can access!" -Paul Leninger
How did the Cogo Spectra logo come into fruition? What was the inspiration behind it?
"I was super conscious of being supportive and inclusive of everyone in designing the logo. I started by looking into the history of LGBTQ+ symbols in the empowerment movement in the1970s. I was seeing what in history has been used for logos while being conscious of previous corporate marketing that has had a 'slap a rainbow on it' mentality. While these rainbow logos can be visually appealing, the intentions to support the community behind it aren't necessarily there. I wanted to keep the Cogo lockup since it's iconic to our brand, but wanted to use the space to better represent all of the people that would be part of the collective. The aim was to address the communities' alignment with supporting both different sexual preferences as well as gender identities. With the rainbow, you reference the classic rainbow pride flag that is associated with sexual preferences, but there is the traditional aspect of people's gender identity which is just as important in our values in Cogo Spectra.
Eli Rider and PK Considine (A Senior DevOps Engineer at Minerva Analytics), pointed me in the direction of this evolved flag, it added more colors to represent more sexual preferences/gender identities and included an arrow to indicate progress. We felt as though this flag was a great way to serve a broader scope of the community. A new flag that resonated with us, that evolved the traditional pride flag was this one:
This flag values the trans and asexual communities, which helps push the visual design to resonate with everyone the group is trying to represent. We also have the deconstructed gender symbols to enhance the gender identity discussion." Julia Bujalski
Will you be marching in the Boston Pride Parade this weekend?
"Yaass, we signed up as a marching group, which is the first time Cogo has been marching in pride. It’s the 49th Boston pride and the 4th largest in the country. There will be 415+ marching groups, and they’re expecting over a million spectators, and 55,000 people marching in the parade. We are carrying our new banner (designed by UI/UX Designer, Julia Bujalski), and we’ll be wearing our matching t-shirts and handing out lots of swag.” - Kenzie Marsh
To join a community of like-minded, inclusive people like Paul and Kenzie, or to learn more about Cogo Spectra, click the link to apply for one of our open positions!