Venture Out Profile: James King On Inclusion At Uberflip, And Progress In The Tech Industry
James King, 27, has been working at Uberflip for the last year. He currently sits in the role of Partner Account Manager, where he focuses on making Uberflip a truly partner-centric organization through collaboration with major B2B marketing technology partners. In his spare time you can find him on the volleyball court, on the curling rink (shout out to the Riverdale Curling League!), or getting overly competitive playing Settlers of Catan.
VO: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today!
JK: No problem! Anything for Venture Out!
VO: I wanted to start by asking how you got involved in tech/entrepreneurship?
JK: I started out working for larger companies in more established industries and quickly realized that I wasn’t able to really make a tangible impact, (red tape, lack of innovation in process and ideas, etc.). A friend of mine already working in tech told me that by going to a smaller company in tech that I could remedy this problem. I took that advice and the rest is history!
VO: What impact (if any) has your LGBTQ+ identity had on your career?
JK: Its only been positive — it’s been an opportunity to show who I am as an individual and how that can impact my work in a positive way. I’ve been able to be open about who I am and also have an opportunity to influence the culture of the companies I work for for the better.
VO: What is one thing managers or those in leadership positions can do to make their teams / workplaces more inclusive?
JK: For managers, I think it’s really important to be present. For example, showing up to the D&I committee event, the small lunch and learn on LGBTQA+ issues etc. goes a long way for driving acceptance and involvement from your team. Going to these optional events and encouraging others to go as well goes a long way to being a role model and setting the tone for the team and company.
VO: Uberflip is a smaller company, and yet you have a D&I committee. How did that come about and what does that look like?
JK: It really came about through a grassroots effort that started during Pride last year. Uberflip is currently 106 employees, so still decently small. We partnered with Get Real who came to the office and guest hosted one of our weekly Fireside Fridays, which is a weekly event where the entire company gets together, celebrities the wins of the week and gets to spend time together away from our desks or meeting rooms. Get Real did an awesome job and paved the way for events we could do with them in the future and start our own D&I initiatives!
It’s great to have the group as a resource as opportunities and events like Venture Out come up, since there plenty of folks within the company who will take the lead on D&I initiatives — it doesn’t just live and breathe with one person. We’ve really found that partnering with those around you can go a long way to making change and impact, even as a smaller organization.
When it comes to advice for groups looking to start out, I would start by identifying where collaboration opportunities with other companies and community partners exist and use that as a way to snowball your way into organizing and leading other initiatives.
VO: What is one piece of advice you have for LGBT folks just starting out in their careers in tech or entrepreneurship?
JK: You’ve just entered an open and welcoming community — you’ve made a great choice! Don’t hide who you are — show your passion and get involved in what’s important to you regardless of what department you’re in (know that you can do what you want!). Be open and transparent about what you believe and what you want to achieve at work. If you are, management will be your biggest cheerleader in making your goals a reality!
VO: To what extent do you think attitudes within the tech/startup industry have shifted over time?
JK: We are very lucky because I think tech is very progressive compared to traditional industries. In many ways, it goes hand in hand with what the industry is trying to accomplish. Tech companies that have a disruptive product are always looking to change the status quo in marketplace with their ground-breaking solution. As a result, it’s very common to see that same disruptive, challenging-the-status-quo mindset, exist within the four walls of their company through the people they hire and culture they portray. I truly think it’s a competitive advantage for the industry and more and more companies are shifting to this ideology.
That being said, the tech industry could make more progress in getting a more balanced representation across genders and other minority groups. The industry has taken some big strides but the work is not done yet in erasing the straight-boys-only-club that looms over the industry.
Events like Venture Out, Tech Ladies Toronto, and overall shifts in People & Culture policies to prioritize equality in hiring practices are all fantastic steps in the right direction. Initiatives like this will hopefully completely erase any of those stereotypes and let the tech industry be known for the open and welcoming place it truly is.
VO: What is something you love about Uberflip?
The people that create a welcoming and inclusive environment. Uberflip does a great job at having a people-first mentality and that’s certainly a rare and special find in a company.
Also, not going to lie. Our company dog, Max, is pretty awesome!