Making the games industry safer and more inclusive for everyone starts within our own company. If you’re at all familiar with Modulate, you’ll know that we strive to create and cultivate a culture of inclusivity using our core value facets as tangible guideposts. Sure, we make software that’s changing the games industry, but at the end of the day we’re also human beings whose lived experiences shape the way we think about our work and collaborate with colleagues, customers, and partners. It’s one thing to make an effort to create an inclusive company culture, and another thing entirely to see it come to life. In honor of Pride Month, we chatted with Cyan McDermott (they/them, pictured above third from the left), one of our Senior QA Engineers, about their experience working at Modulate since they joined the team about a year ago, what makes Modulate’s culture special, and what they hope to see in the future.
Q: What drew you to Modulate when you first applied a little over a year ago, considering your extensive experience in software development, including working at large tech companies?
A: Initially, I had some trepidation about working in the AI space, but what really stood out to me about Modulate was the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion. I wanted to align myself with a company that valued ethics and making a positive impact on the world. When I saw Modulate’s efforts to mitigate hiring bias and the care they put into their application process, it was clear that they genuinely cared about people and creating a welcoming environment. Those two pillars (net impact and diversity, equity & inclusion) became essential for me when considering job opportunities.
Q: Did you notice any differences in the way Modulate approaches company culture compared to your previous experiences at other companies?
A: Initially, it almost felt “too good to be true” when I joined last August. I think a lot of that feeling came from my past experience working in other large tech companies and departments. At Modulate, I don't feel the need to "cover" or downplay any aspects of my identity. The leadership at Modulate is driven, intentional, transparent, and actively creates an inclusive environment. For example, they consistently ask for and use pronouns, making space for different identities and prioritizing inclusivity.
Q: What inspired you to create the Get to Know You Series at Modulate?
A: The idea for the Get to Know You Series came up after an organic conversation that I had with some folks over lunch. We were talking about non-binary identity and I heard different interpretations and meanings from other non-binary Modulators. I thought it would be valuable to have a roundtable conversation to hear everyone's varying perspectives. Just like with any identity, we’re not a monolith and different terms and identifiers mean different things to different people. I brought this idea up to the People Ops team, who were incredibly supportive and turned it into a company-wide "training-esque" event.
Q: What were some of your notable takeaways from the first Get to Know You panel?
A: I’d been on similar types of panel discussions about identity in past jobs, but this was the first time I was part of a panel conversation centered around non-binary identities. Despite a few technical hiccups, the panel went well! All six of our non-binary Modulators at the time participated, and we had a great turnout. It was powerful to hear different perspectives from various generational and racial experiences. We aligned a lot and still differed in some of our feelings and views on terminology and definition – it was really impactful to have a conversation about those differing views in a public forum like that.
Q: As an advocate for LGBTQ Modulators, what are your goals for the Modulate Guild this year?
A: My goal for the Modulate LGBTQ+ Guild, our employee resource group, is to create a space where LGBTQ issues can be openly discussed. This includes personal identities, goals, challenges, and even just polling the group for where to find clothes or a cool hangout spot.
In terms of future goals, I want Modulate to be more outspoken about our commitment to LGBTQ folks – not just employees, but also the partners we work with, the customers we serve, and the players who are impacted by our work. Modulate has such a stand-out, unique culture, especially in the gaming and tech industry – let’s talk about it more!
Q: What's one simple thing you would encourage anyone to do in their workplace to help queer folks feel more included and comfortable being themselves? How can allies be better advocates and supporters for LGBTQ colleagues?
A: One simple change that can make a significant difference is to ask for pronouns and make an effort to remember and use them. It's also helpful to make it clear that you're an ally by displaying pride flags on your desk during Pride Month or using ally stickers on your desk, cubicle, or laptop. Allies should speak up when they witness homophobic or anti-queer incidents, even if there are no queer individuals present.
Q: How do you feel supported by fellow Modulators outside of work, and how does your identity express itself outside of work?
A: Outside of work, I enjoy dressing fancy and finding new clothes. I often attend queer events and am involved in the Medford Pride planning committee for the second year. We're organizing the Medford Pride Festival on June 25th. At Modulate, the leadership team very intentionally creates space for LGBTQ folks to be themselves and bring as much of themselves to work as they want. For example, this year our People Ops team has helped promote the upcoming June 25 event in our office and various Modulators have expressed interest in attending. As always, my fellow queer Modulators (you know who you are!) are always supportive, thoughtful, and ready to lend an ear.