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Celebrating Pride and Supporting the LGBTQ+ Community

Appian App Icon Johnny Allain-Labon and Mandi Kelly

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When Johnny and Mandi first joined Appian, on different teams and in different continents, it was a priority for both of them to join AppianPride.

AppianPride is about celebrating and fostering a safe, equal, and affirmative environment within the larger Appian community and beyond within the LGBTQ+ community.

To celebrate Pride Month, we’re shining a spotlight on our AppianPride Affinity Group. Johnny and Mandi shared their experiences getting involved with the group, how they’re pushing for change at Appian, and what tangible actions people can take to create a more inclusive environment. 

Meet Johnny Allain-Labon.

  • Senior Consultant 
  • Based in London, England  
  • Lead, AppianPride EMEA (2020-2022)

The actions that make inclusion intentional.

When I was applying to work at Appian in 2019, one of things that stood out to me was that my recruiter Courtney Connolly had her pronouns in her email signature. It was the first time I’d seen it in a professional setting and sent a signal that this is a place that’s open and welcoming of LGBTQ+ people.
Courtney is an icon within Appian. She’s hired so many people in the company, and now is Head of People and Culture in the APJ region. In my interview, she talked about her own story of founding the AppianPride group and when I joined that was really a priority for me to get involved. 

I’m now the lead of AppianPride in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). To be inclusive, it doesn’t just happen. You have to put intentional time, money, and resources into practice. For us at AppianPride this has involved: 

  • Leading trainings on Trans Awareness and Allyship 
  • Organizing social events to bring together AppianPride members internationally
  • Partnering with the Campus Recruiting team to be part of the Appian diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives at colleges
  • Fundraising for local charities supporting the LGBTQ+ community 

Through these initiatives and meeting so many Appian colleagues around the world, I’ve seen how it’s not just about our jobs, it’s also about connecting people who care about their impact on the world. 

Measuring by how we give back to the community we serve.

I think the primary measure of employee resource groups like AppianPride is about how much they give back to the communities they serve. 

One way we accomplished this last year was through a remote and global fundraising campaign. We called it Do Good and Get Strong: A virtual triathlon for LGBTQ+ charities and people from Appian regions across the world were able to participate. It was about being active, and people could choose to run, swim, cycle, or walk and track their distances while raising money for local charities supporting the LGBTQ+ community. There was an app on the Appian Home internal site with a leaderboard to show how well people were doing and everyone got really into it! 

Members participated in the fun AppianPride event called Do Good and Get Strong: A virtual triathlon for LGBTQ+ charities! This is me running for the fundraiser.

Each region raised money for a charity close to them. In the UK we raised funds for Switchboard, an LGBTQ+ helpline. Other organizations we’ve partnered with that are great resources for the LGBTQ+ community and to learn about allyship include: 

  • The Trevor Project provides information and support to LGBTQ+ young people.
  • PFLAG supports the LGBTQ+ community and allies in the US through education and advocacy. 
  • Mermaids supports transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse kids and their families in the UK. 

Meet Mandi Kelly. 

  • Quality Engineer 
  • Based in McLean, Virginia 
  • Inclusion Liaison, AppianPride

Being an Engineer + AppianPride Inclusion Liaison. 

AppianPride has allowed me to get to know people beyond my department. As a Quality Engineer, most of my day is focused on databases but when I’m doing AppianPride work it’s very different, fun, and helps break up the sometimes monotonous day. 

I got involved in AppianPride right when I joined because I wanted to find a community at work. I love planning events that bring people together over common interests or a shared interest in learning something new. We meet every other Monday to plan upcoming social events, training sessions and fundraising initiatives, all around celebrating and supporting the LGBTQ+ community year round. 

Always striving to make Appian better.

I’ve had a really positive experience working at Appian, but at every company you have to recognize there’s always ways to improve. The Affinity Groups often function as a push for change.

We have a big Google sheet that we call our “Listener Spreadsheet” that all employees can access and see a list of volunteers in AppianPride that they can chat with. It lists names and contact information and who’s in the LGBTQ+ community or an ally. Sometimes all people need is a great listener and that’s what this document aims to provide — we’re happy to listen to anything you need to talk about, discuss our identities , connect on relatable experiences , and just chat. People face many invisible struggles and this resource is one way we hope employees can feel safe and surrounded by allies at work. 

In the past couple years, here are a few other ways we’ve made changes to support the LGBTQ+ community at Appian: 

  • Created guidelines about transitioning in the workplace. 
  • Updated our restroom signs at the office to be gender-neutral. 
  • Created an inclusive dress code.  

Language matters. In the dress code section of our handbook for example, it states: "Whether or not to dress according to traditional norms or wear clothes that allow you to express your gender identity can be a difficult decision. Appian embraces LGBTQIA-inclusive attire so you may feel comfortable wearing clothes typically associated with your gender identity including gender-neutral and androgynous clothing. Human Resources is also available to talk about your specific situation." 

People don’t care one way or another who your partner is or what clothes you wear. We’re all here because we have individual skills that brought us into this job. We choose to stay at Appian and be part of Affinity Groups because we care about creating an environment where everyone is respected.

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Written by

Johnny Allain-Labon and Mandi Kelly

Johnny is a Senior Consultant and Mandi is a Quality Engineer at Appian.