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  WINDY CITY TIMES

London-based twins give networking an LGBT twist
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Melissa Wasserman
2015-08-11

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Job-hunting can be daunting for various reasons, but Adrien and Pierre Gaubert make sure being LGBT isn't one of them. The London-based twins founded myGwork, an online platform connecting LGBT professionals, as a hub to help with the search for the dream job.

The Gauberts grew up in a small town in the south of France and attended high school in the United Kingdom. Since then, they have been avid world travelers together and on their own. They have a close relationship with each other and describe themselves as family-oriented.

Just before laying out the groundwork for myGwork in spring 2014, Adrien earned a master's degree in globalization at King's College London and Pierre completed a graduate program in an IT company in Madrid.

"We saw that there were many places for LGBT people, like us, but it was more for dating and nothing professional," said Adrien, myGwork's co-founder and chief marketing officer, about looking for LGBT resources. "It just looked weird to us. [This] makes us stronger as a professional community and not just to party together, to go out and enjoy. It's to really have power within the professional world."

Part of their ambition to create myGwork came from personally facing homophobic attitudes and behavior in each of their previous workplaces just a few years ago. Adrien said while working for the Foreign Office in China, he endured gossip and stereotyping from his colleagues. Pierre was working for a U.S. software vendor in Spain, and said he was receiving unwarranted sexual jokes from his managers throughout the day.

"When I was there in Madrid, when I found out which of my colleagues were gay, I felt it gave me more power and I was stronger because it's easier to fit in an environment when you are with other people like you," said Pierre, co-founder and CEO. "We do that with myGwork. Then you can connect with the people in your company that are LGBT."

The initial driving force to develop myGwork was the passing of Adrien and Pierre's mother in spring 2013. The two, who came out on separate occasions at young ages, explained she was always worried they would not be able to get good jobs because of their sexual orientation and the prejudices they would face. Remembering this, Adrien and Pierre used the money their mother left them and applied their passion for entrepreneurship. Ultimately, the site was built to address this issue and ensure everybody has an equal chance to succeed in the workplace.

"We got testimonies from people that tried to come out and they couldn't at their job and they were a bit desperate and this platform gave them hope," said Pierre. "From the Philippines, Indonesia, Turkey, many people have said, 'Thank you for doing that.'"

Currently helping run myGwork are Adrien and Pierre's friends Nerea Eguia Cotera and Unai Manzano; their younger brother Valentin, an ally; and Darren Cooper, a specialist of LGBT issues in the workplace. Raphael Dos Santos, nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year by Virgin Startup; Jacqui Gavin, role model working for the British Government; and Jean Francois Dor, owner of The Gay Business Association, serve as its business advisors.

myGwork was launched in the UK in spring 2015. Like LinkedIn with an LGBT emphasis, it operates as a professional networking platform that allows members to create profiles, upload their CVs and search for new job opportunities. The site also allows members to seek advice through direct interaction with other members or simply share their experiences. Similarly, a mentoring-initiative system is also in place where graduates can seek advice from experienced professionals. Members additionally have the opportunity for offline networking, with access to a list of social events.

"We want you to be happy in your job because you spend a lot of time in your job, like 10 hours a day, so you need to be happy where you're working," Adrien said.

The myGwork blog intends to keep its members up-to-date on LGBT current events that affect LGBT professionals in the workplace with a compilation of LGBT-related news articles. In turn, myGwork aims to tackle these LGBT issues that bring about serious consequences. According to the organization, "the concept of myGwork is that any organization posting job vacancies through the site will have an LGBT-supportive ethos and a corporate culture that advocates diversity and inclusion, therefore assuring prospective employees that they will be accepted regardless of their sexual orientation."

"We wanted to create a safe environment and we don't want people to be scared," Pierre said. "myGwork is a community. It's people that accept you or are like you. So, if you don't want to be out in the world, you don't have to. If you're not ready now, we're not going to push you to be ready."

myGwork has attracted global interest beyond the UK from individuals, organizations and businesses. American and Canadian members are amongst the most numerous, according to the site. Adrien and Pierre said myGwork currently has over 2,000 active members with profiles and about 12,000 unique visitors per month. The co-founders described the network as inclusive and diverse, not just in terms of the LGBT community, age, gender and ethnicity, but across all industries and positions.

"We want to benefit a large number of people," said Pierre. "The members encourage us to continue and thank us everyday for doing it."

Privacy is a practice that is not taken lightly in this online community. myGwork profiles do not appear in search engines such as Google and only registered users are able to view other members' profiles. The site is open to everyone with free registration for individuals and a small fee for businesses.

"It's your choice," Adrien said about coming out in the professional realm. "We just encourage you to come out, but take your time and do it whenever you feel like."

For more information, visit mygwork.com .


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