A Conversation with the Co-Leads of CheQueers, Checkr’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group
First things first, happy Pride Month! June presents us with an opportunity to celebrate our queer communities. We were thrilled to sit down (virtually) with the leaders of Checkr’s employee resource group (ERG), CheQueers, to discuss the inception of the group, its goals, and what it means to the Checkr community.
The mission of CheQueers is to create a safe, supportive space for Checkr’s LGBTQ+ community and its allies through events, education, and recognition of unique experiences.
Let’s dive into our interview with Avery Conant, senior product operations specialist and Seth Gonzalez, senior quality specialist in candidate experience, the CheQueers employee leaders.
What city do you work out of and how long have you been at Checkr?
Avery: I work out of Oakland CA and have been at Checkr for six years.
Seth: I work remotely in Los Angeles and have been with Checkr for a little over three years.
What is your current role?
Avery: Senior Product Operations Specialist. I work with criminal record data to ensure we’re processing information in the most equitable way possible given the data source, the courts.
Seth: I’m a Senior Quality Specialist in Candidate Experience. Essentially, I identify and mitigate areas of compliance risk in Checkr’s communications with candidates.
Can you tell us about the inception of CheQueers?
Avery: As an early employee, I had been interested in an LGBTQ+ focused group for a while, but with only three or so out employees, we waited until the company and our representative population grew a bit before making the group official. CheQueers has been with the company since 2017.
Seth: I was there before it was called CheQueers. I think we were just calling it “The LGBTQ+ Resource Group” at the time, which isn’t very fun to say. I wasn’t there for the group’s inception, but I’ve seen it evolve considerably over the past three years.
What motivated you to become a CheQueers leader at Checkr?
Avery: Not to play favorites, but my love of the queer and ally community at Checkr. I wanted them to feel supported and have positive experiences with their fellow queer colleagues, and being able to grow a skill set in event planning, facilitation, and leadership is just an added bonus.
Seth: I thrive by making sure the people around me have the support they need, whether it’s on my team at work or with my friends. I specifically feel a lot of responsibility for empowering other queer people and making sure they have the space and access to fully be their authentic selves, so ERG leadership felt obvious to me.
What is a CheQueers moment or initiative you’re particularly proud of?
Avery: In 2019, we hosted Dr. Sand Chang to give a Transgender 101 talk and facilitate a panel with Checkr employees who identify as non binary or transgender. Having that personal connection to folks with different gender experiences resonated with a lot of employees.
Seth: There’s a lot to be proud of within CheQueers, but securing all-gender restrooms in our San Francisco office stands out. I wasn’t one of the leads on this initiative, but I’m proud of my coworkers who pushed to make this a reality for us. As someone who is trans/non-binary, I’m not comfortable using gendered restrooms, so it made a huge difference in my mental health and the way I navigated office life.
What surprised you most about the CheQueers ERG?
Avery: How willing people are to lend a helping hand. From helping to organize large in-person or virtual events to just hosting the video stream for our monthly movie nights, CheQueers really is a community that cares about each other and is game for anything.
Seth: Our resilience throughout the pandemic. After the uncertainty of 2020, I’ve been really happy and relieved to see new faces joining as we’ve moved into 2021. Having a support network is important for queer people in the workplace because we often face challenges within the organization or from our superiors regarding our identities that can feel very isolating, so I’m glad we can continue to be that resource for queer folks at Checkr.
What does queer community mean to you?
Avery: Big question—it first and foremost means family to me. The experience of realizing you’re not alone in your experiences changes how the world looks. Being part of the queer community and the concept of chosen family resonates deeply with me.
Seth: My neighbors have one of those ~inspirational~ signs on their back patio that says “Bloom where you are planted” but I feel like it should be “Bloom where you are watered” because that’s really the truth of it. Queer community is seeing yourself blossom for the first time because you’re finally getting the love and support that you were denied for so much of your life.
What are some goals of CheQueers you’re excited about?
Avery: With Pride month here, having opportunities to educate and support my fellow Checkrs and their connection in the LGBTQ+ and ally community, and creating space for celebration and connection are inspiring to me. I’m looking forward to seeing how the return to work process looks for ERGs—both in how safety will factor in and finally getting to connect with the CheQueers community in person.
Seth: I’m looking forward to collaborating with other ERGs on upcoming events—stay tuned!
Avery: I have a soft spot for the last in-person event CheQueers held in February 2020, which was a trip to an old church-turned-roller rink in San Francisco, the Church of 8 Wheels. It was great seeing so many CheQueers and allies come together for a night of fun, families included.
Seth: A long time ago the CheQueers CRG did a trip to the Castro Theater after work one evening to see a documentary film called The Times of Harvey Milk. We’ve obviously done bigger events, but seeing such an important queer film at one of San Francisco’s most historic landmarks was pretty special. Also loved getting chicken strips at Hamburger Mary’s with everyone after.
Three words to describe the CheQueers ERG:
Avery: Connection, acceptance, joy.
Seth: Fun, delightful, gay.
Do you have a favorite queer community app, blog, article, book or podcast you’d recommend to others?
Avery: I love the podcast Nancy from WNYC. While it’s since been cancelled, their backlog of episodes is excellent and explores so many facets of the queer community.
Seth: I listen to a podcast called “Daybreak Podcast” which covers San Francisco and California politics. It’s run by a queer organizer in San Francisco named Jackie Fielder who ran for CA State Senate in 2020, and she often has queer guests from the community on the podcast to discuss issues like transit, housing, climate change, healthcare, etc. She also uses the platform to campaign for progressive candidates for the CA State Legislature. I realize the material is highly specific, but if you live in California and care about how local politics impact our livelihoods, it might be for you!
Thank you to Avery and Seth!
If you’re interested in learning more about working with us, check out our video, Why work at Checkr?
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“CheQueers really is a community that cares about each other and is game for anything.“
Avery Conant, CheQueers Co-Lead