Rokt’star spotlight: Stephen Rivera, Thomas Bugas & Rainbow Rokts

By Stephen Rivera & Thomas Bugas

June is celebrated each year as LGBTQ+ Pride month, a time to celebrate and demonstrate support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community members. At Rokt, we are proud to stand in solidarity with our colleagues, customers, and community on the journey for true LGBTQ+ equality, and take pride in being a company where everyone can be their true selves.

Rainbow Rokts, a core group of LGBTQ+ employees and allies have been instrumental in educating and creating a safe space for everyone within Rokt. Together, they meet to discuss, plan, and implement projects both internally at Rokt and externally around our community.

Stephen Rivera, one of our Account Directors, is the co-founder of Rainbow Rokts and now leads the group with Rokt’star Account Manager, Thomas Bugas

We sat down with Stephen and Thomas to discuss Rainbow Rokts foundation, initiatives, and how we can all celebrate Pride month and take steps towards true equality. 

What is Rainbow Rokts?

Rainbow Rokts aims to bring together LGBTQ+ members and allies across our organization – in which our members participate in informal monthly meetings, outings, and events to celebrate our LGTBQ+ brothers and sisters. Our mission is to not only create a safe space for colleagues searching for a sense of community inside the workplace, but a platform for education + awareness, personal growth, and aid to the LGTBQ+ community outside of Rokt. 

What inspired the foundation of Rainbow Rokts? 

When I joined Rokt roughly three years ago, I gravitated towards the positive culture and energy of the business. What I recognized, however, was that we were lacking a community for members of the team that identified as LGBTQ+ at work. It has been reported that half of LGBTQ+ employees stay closeted at work and nearly 45% of gay and 90% of transgender individuals have faced harassment on the job – I did not want Rokt to be this place for any of us.  After a few conversations with interested colleagues, I moved forward with a proposal to organize Rokt’s first LGTBQ+ affinity group – Rainbow Rokts.  As we continue to scale the business, we found it important to not only foster an environment that is uplifting, and safe but a place where our colleagues feel empowered to embrace themselves authentically. There was also an educational piece I hoped to achieve with starting Rainbow Rokts as well – particularly for our allies. Not only do allies help people in the coming-out process, they also help others understand the importance of equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect.  I wanted Rainbow Rokts to be a space that will help open the door to potentially “taboo” conversations and create discussions that will help us learn about our differences. 

How has the Rainbow Rokts Team worked to shape Rokt’s practices and shaped them to be more LGBTQ+ friendly?

We have contributed to past Diversity Panels, held open forum discussions, created a safe space for any and all LGBTQ+ Rokt’stars and allies, and lastly, have planned a few fun happy hours amidst the pandemic chaos! 

Photo from Rokts 2021 Pride Month Panel  

What is Rainbow Rokts planning for Pride Month?

Outside of transforming Rokt into the ultimate Rainbow, we held a great panel for employees featuring Robyn Streisand, Jake Schonfeld, and Adam Schaffer. The group discussed the importance of diversity and inclusion at work, the LGBT experience in the tech sector, and ways for businesses to be inclusive all year. We also held a Pride Party at our new office in Tribeca immediately following the panel, which included drinks, snacks, and plenty of Pride merch!

 

What’s something we can all do in June to celebrate our LGBTQ+ Community?   

Spread the love. As we make our way out of COVID, it is our time to finally reunite with our friends and family we have not been able to see for the last 14 months. 

Rokt