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Meet DeepL’s PROUD-AI group: championing diversity throughout the year

Meet Amber Janko and Juan Cortés, the dynamic leaders behind DeepL's “PROUD-AI” Employee Resource Group (ERG). Juan, based in Cologne, Germany, and Amber, based in the UK, share their valuable insights into creating an inclusive workplace where every individual is valued. Join us as they shed light on the mission and activities of DeepL's Pride ERG.

Now, let's hear from Amber and Juan about their backgrounds and roles at DeepL.

Amber: I'm Amber, and I've been part of DeepL since April 2022. It's been quite a journey, especially with our rapid growth; it feels like I've been here forever! 

Working in the Talent Acquisition team, my focus is on bringing the best software engineers across different areas to our company. But for me, it's more than just matching skills—it's about being the friendly face of DeepL to our applicants. I take every opportunity to share our diversity initiatives and inclusive culture and aim to leave a positive impression wherever I go.

Juan: Hey there! I'm Juan, originally from Spain and now happily settled in Cologne. I joined DeepL at the beginning of 2023 and currently lead a team in the Support department. 

Whether it's driving positive change within our Employee Resource Group (ERG) or fostering a supportive team vibe, I believe in leading by example. My principles revolve around open communication, mentorship, and collaboration. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of diversity to fuel innovation and success. That's why I'm dedicated to ensuring everyone feels valued and empowered to excel, both personally and professionally.

Juan, could you provide some insight into the formation of the PROUD-AI ERG? What motivated its creation, and what is its overarching mission?

The PROUD-AI ERG at DeepL was established in 2023 with a clear vision of cultivating an inclusive workplace environment where LGBTQ+ individuals can authentically thrive. 

The driving force behind its formation was the recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion, not just as buzzwords, but as fundamental elements of a healthy organizational culture. Our mission was to create a platform where LGBTQ+ employees could connect, support each other, and advocate for positive organizational change.

Amber, what inspired you to take on the role of ERG Pride Lead this year, and what are your aspirations?

My involvement with diversity initiatives at DeepL dates back to its early stages, from modest beginnings, like a Slack channel, to the initial online endeavors for events like International Women's Day and Pride last year. 

When we transitioned to a more structured ERG framework at the beginning of 2024, I was eager to be part of it. While DeepL is undeniably one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly companies I've worked for, I believe there's still more we can do to showcase this inclusivity, both internally and externally. There's immense potential for us to implement social initiatives, educational programs, and foster a supportive professional community. 

I'm enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead and eager to contribute to our journey towards greater inclusivity.

Juan, could you share an experience from your time at work where you felt particularly supported as an LGBTQ+ individual and how it impacted you?

Throughout my interview process at DeepL, I felt it was a safe space where I could authentically be myself—even before I officially started my journey within the company. 

The team of colleagues I interacted with were incredibly supportive, fostering an environment that not only celebrates diversity but also embraces my professional identity. This sense of support has remained constant, especially with the personal connections formed daily at our headquarters in Cologne.

How would you both characterize the inclusivity of DeepL's culture?

Juan: Through my day-to-day interactions, I can truly tell that DeepL's culture places a strong emphasis on inclusivity across the board. From leadership initiatives focused on diversity to the use of inclusive language in our communications, there's a conscious effort to ensure that every individual feels respected and valued for who they are. 

The company actively seeks feedback from employees to continually refine its policies and practices, demonstrating a sincere commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. While there's still work to be done, we're confident in our team's ability to drive progress.

Amber: From what I see, diversity is in many ways ingrained in DeepL's DNA, given our presence in the language industry. We're an exceptionally international and multicultural company that fosters an atmosphere of "warm curiosity" about each other's backgrounds. 

At DeepL, different perspectives and backgrounds are not viewed as obstacles, but rather as opportunities for mutual learning and growth. This inherent openness and acceptance contributes to the richness of our culture and the strength of our community.

Amber, could you give us a sneak peek into some of your initial plans or ideas for celebrating Pride Month at DeepL?

For this year's Pride festivities, we're focusing on breaking barriers and sparking meaningful conversations within our community. Instead of sticking to the more academic approach we took last year, we want to create a space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their personal experiences and discussing the hurdles they face as LGBTQ+ individuals, regardless of where they fall under the rainbow. 

We're hosting "lightning talks'' both online and in person, where team members can learn from their peers. We're also pursuing partnerships with external LGBTQ+ professional networks, charities, and NGOs to not only show our commitment to inclusion but also provide some tangible support to causes aligned with our values.

As we dive into Pride Month, what's a message you'd like to send out to allies and supporters, both within DeepL and beyond?

Juan: I'd say to our allies and supporters, both here at DeepL and out there in the wider world, a big thank you and keep it going! Let's use this month as a springboard for more learning, more questioning, and more collaboration towards a world where everyone can truly be themselves and bring their whole selves to work—no matter who they love or how they identify.

Amber: It's easy to forget sometimes that Pride has its roots in protest. LGBTQ+ folks all around the globe are still facing big challenges, especially our trans and non-binary friends. 

So, it's crucial for all of us, whether we're part of the LGBTQ+ community or allies, to stand up and speak out for equality. Let's make sure their voices are heard loud and clear, and let's keep pushing for a society that's truly inclusive.

As the ERG leads, can you share a personal experience that shows why celebrating Pride Month at work is so important?

Juan: I have fond memories of past experiences where ‌visibility has helped others to understand how diverse we are as a team. They're a chance for us to learn from each other, to celebrate each other, and to have some really important conversations. And, most importantly, they remind us that we're not alone—we've got a whole community behind us.

Amber: In my previous jobs, it was hard to be the only LGBTQ+ person in the room. It felt like I was always hiding a part of myself, and that's never a good feeling. But here at DeepL, we've got such a diverse bunch of people working together and that's something really special. 

I'm excited to be working on some real, concrete programs and initiatives that reflect our values and show the world what we're all about. It's important that we celebrate that diversity, not just during Pride Month, but all year-round. 

And for me, that's what makes DeepL such a great place to work—we celebrate who we are every single day.

As we embrace the spirit of Pride Month and look to the future, let's be inspired by the unity and acceptance that define DeepL's culture. With Juan and Amber leading the way, we're not just celebrating diversity—we're striving to shape a workplace where every voice matters and every individual feels valued. 

Ready to become part of something bigger? Explore our opportunities and join us as we champion diversity, equality, and inclusion at DeepL. Visit our BEDI page and take the first step towards a more inclusive future today!