Growing the Atos LGBT+ community with blueKiwi and Circuit collaboration

We have a very active and increasingly visible LGBT+ and Friends community at Atos. As one of the community leaders, Julia Atwater recently shared a tweet that caught the particular interest of our colleague Philipp Bohn. In his product responsibility, Philipp wanted to learn more about how our blueKiwi social network and Circuit team collaboration are helping the community to organize and grow.

Philipp Bohn: Julia, thanks for taking the time to share about your experience building and curating AtosPride, the Atos LGBT+ and Friends community. Please tell us more about the community at Atos, and what role cloud collaboration plays for you and the team? Let‘s start with blueKiwi.

Julia Atwater: In 2015, Atos launched a Group Diversity program that focuses on gender, age, race, disabilities and LGBT. AtosPride was initially concentrated on the UK, but we quickly saw the opportunity to grow our community globally and knew we wanted to ensure we reached as many people as possible. We have a highly mobile, distributed and remote workforce so knew we needed the right tools to support and grow the community. We already used blueKiwi as our company-wide Enterprise Social Network at the time, so it was natural to set up a dedicated AtosPride space. Our community has been continually growing and now has 917 members in 28 countries.

Philipp: That‘s healthy and early growth around an issue that until very recently was outside of the business mainstream — now everybody is talking about diversity! How exactly are you using blueKiwi, and what did you learn as a community manager?

Julia: We‘re using blueKiwi for a variety of things, which is the beauty of it. We share and discuss relevant articles and videos, and information about local LGBT+ events. Most importantly, we use blueKiwi as a way to highlight our LGBT+ role models across the company and for people to share their personal moments and pictures.

To have an impact, openness is key. Our space is open to everybody at Atos, regardless of whether they identify as LGBT+. We want to provide a positive, engaging, inclusive and fun  space for a broad range of people. Because the blueKiwi space is open to everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, it gives a bit of breathing space to any colleagues that are not out yet or may be questioning. I love the fact AtosPride is so easy to find on blueKiwi which enables new colleagues to find our community on day one of joining the business.

Philipp: You explicitly address and include friends of the community. Why is it important that colleagues beyond the core community join the space?

Julia: When we talk about friends of the community, we’re talking about people being typically straight and/or cisgender people who support the LGBT community. It’s really important that we raise awareness of the importance of allies. Particularly for our senior leaders and line managers to demonstrate their support. We have found this to be particularly relevant for employees that are considering an internal career move, which is encouraged by the company. For LGBT+ colleagues who are thinking about changing their career path, they may have added nervousness about coming out to new managers and teams.

One example we have had was when an LGBT+ employee was considering a move to a new role and team. They were concerned that they didn’t know their new prospective manager and therefore didn’t know if they could be out in the workplace and be themselves. Fortunately, this manager was an active ally in the AtosPride community, and the LGBT+ employee was able to clearly see that there would be no issues in changing roles. This gave the colleague the confidence to move roles and join the new team with an empathetic and inclusive manager. Quite simply, people perform better when they can be themselves.  This is important for the individual, but it also makes business sense if it enables our people and their skills to be deployed at the right place at the right time.

Blue Kiwi Pride

Atos LGBT+ and friends community on our blueKiwi social network

Philipp: You are using Circuit team collaboration alongside of our blueKiwi social network. How do you manage work with both platforms?

Julia: As a social network, blueKiwi is perfect to manage and curate larger communities with hundreds or thousands of people. Posts are more structured and slightly less “chatty”. We use Circuit to collaborate as smaller teams in real time. This is particularly helpful with our UK and global AtosPride committees with around 10 members each. We hold our regular committee calls with Circuit, using the full range of voice, video, screensharing and now whiteboarding. We use the group chat to post and discuss content we plan to share with the broader AtosPride community on blueKiwi.

We also offer quarterly AtosPride webinars with external speakers, and Circuit makes sense for multiple reasons: Circuit can accommodate up to 300 concurrent participants with reliable quality and stability, including on mobile devices. We also use Circuit‘s recording feature, so sessions are available for later playback directly in the conversation. And we share all of our recordings on blueKiwi too. Group messaging is heavily used during the sessions to share feedback and reactions, it’s wonderful to see. Finally, some participants may want to join our live sessions anonymously. With dial-in through telephone and guest access on Circuit we can offer this option.

Philipp: I haven‘t thought of anonymous participation as a product requirement up to now, but it makes a lot of sense in this context. Hopefully not anymore in the future. What are a few best practices that you learned and can share with other community managers?

Julia: These are the main things that we have learned over the past 3 years in terms of managing the community:

  • Be consistent: Make sure your post titles and structure are consistent if you plan a series around a particular theme, for example we have a series of posts highlighting LGBT+ role models. Consistency makes it easier for your audience to find and engage with your content.
  • Diverse posting: It‘s important that a broad range of people are posting content to ensure creativity and openness. If you find an interesting article that‘s valuable to the community but you have been a very frequent poster recently, consider asking a less active member to post it.
  • Provoke reactions: When you share news and opinion articles, make sure to highlight quotes, ask questions or create a poll to encourage reactions and increase engagement.
  • Manage actively: Have organization and structure, don‘t be afraid to actively manage your community, and make clear what you want to achieve as a team. This isn’t about censoring posts but to avoid losing the good stuff amongst any potentially irrelevant noise.

Philipp: Interesting! One takeaway for me is that it does take a good amount of structure to establish and sustain a culture of openness, that can still be productive and create outcomes. I‘m glad Circuit and blueKiwi can help. What‘s next for you and the community, and what‘s your call to action?

Julia: We want to grow our community globally and keep it relevant and interesting. We are actively collecting feedback from the community to learn what they want to see and achieve, also using blueKiwi‘s social analytics capabilities. We are also encouraging senior leaders to join the AtosPride community and be more visible in their support of LGBT+ inclusion.

My simple call to action is to become an ally and educate and empower yourself to help make all of our workplaces as inclusive as possible. There are 5 great steps in how to stand up as an ally. Thanks so much Philipp for inviting me to talk about AtosPride’s use of blueKiwi and Circuit.

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About Julia Atwater

Head of Communications at the Business & Platform Solutions
Julia Atwater joined Atos 7 years ago and is currently the Head of Communications at the Business & Platform Solutions (B&PS) business unit in the UK. She is passionate about diversity & inclusion and is the co-founder and co-chair of AtosPride, Atos' global LGBT+ and Allies network. Earlier this year she was shortlisted in the British LGBT Awards as a Top 10 LGBT and Corporate Rising Star.

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