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Alumna recognized in list of influential LGBTQ+ leaders

Jen Wong, COO of Reddit, discusses her time at the Firm and the challenges LGBTQ+ people still face in the tech world.
A photo of Jen Wong wearing a striped shirt and dark blazer
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It's Pride Month, and 2020 also happens to mark the 25th anniversary of GLAM, McKinsey's worldwide network of LGBTQ+ colleagues. So we are especially proud that alumna Jen Wong (NYO, STA 04-10), COO of Reddit, has been named to Fast Company's inaugural "Queer 50" list of influential LGBTQ+ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech.

We caught up with her to talk about her experiences with GLAM during her time at McKinsey, the obstacles that LGBTQ+ people face in the tech community, and what she's most proud of in her career.

What does McKinsey GLAM mean to you?

It was a big part of my experience at McKinsey—it was a group of people where I felt immediate belonging and did not have to give any extra explanation about myself. When I was going through the recruiting process, it also was an important symbol to me that there was going to be a welcoming community for my kind within McKinsey.

What moments in GLAM left you feeling inspired or included?

I remember the global GLAM conferences (Cologne, Berlin) very fondly, and that I was one of maybe two or so women attending at the time. The guys treated me really well and those were some of the best parties.

The bonds ran very deep and were really global. I still keep in touch with McKinsey alums all over the world who I had met just a few times a year at the GLAM conference.

What was the best advice you ever got from a mentor at McKinsey?

Lots of great advice:

  • Board decks are 20-point font
  • Write like you speak, in plain English
  • Senior executives are mostly Myers-Briggs “F”
  • McKinsey is a career accelerant, so when you leave, find something of equal velocity

What challenges do LGBTQ people face in the tech community? What can companies do to address these?

Venture funding is still majority-controlled by a small and not very diverse set of investors who tend to fund people who look like them. This makes it hard for LGTBQ founders to get funding, and even harder to get ideas that might benefit the LGTBQ community funded.

There are also not enough LGTBQ engineers and for smaller startups. It can mean being the only LGTBQ person on a team.  I know a number of people who have found a great community in Out in Tech or Lesbians Who Tech, where there are real thought-leading discussions on product and tech, with LGTBQ peers. Companies sending employees and recruiters really benefit from accessing this community.

What are you most proud of in your professional career?

I think I’ve been able to build the career I always wanted without compromising who I am. That is not something I necessarily expected. My work clothes are Vans, jeans, and on a nice day, a Supreme T-shirt; and I get to imbibe the internet and media professionally.

When you are not working, what are you doing?

These days, sheltering on Long Island with my wife (a McKinsey AP), wrestling with getting my three-year-old son to do Zoom preschool, and praying that our first vegetable garden yields something.