Meghan Stabler is Senior Vice President at BigCommerce, one of the world’s leading SaaS eCommerce platforms where she leads Global Product Marketing and Communications. She has a longstanding history of action in driving diversity, equity, and inclusion. Meghan has been a leading voice for the LGBT+ community for many years.
Audeliss was thrilled to facilitate Meghan’s appointment to the Grindr Board of Directors. We got a chance to get Meghan’s thoughts on the role, the state of LGBT+ inclusion in business, Pride month, and more.
What appealed to you about the role with Grindr?
“Grindr has a great opportunity in terms of its growth and expansion. I believe that I was brought on board not just because of my LGBTQ+ history, but because of my professional experience. That’s what I’m hoping to bring to bring to the executive team, to the investors and the shareholders; my experience that will continue to further Grindr’s growth and advancement.
There has been an unintentional but a clear lack of diversity and representation on company boards. We’ve seen it with women on board seats. We’ve seen it with minorities on board seats and obviously being part of the LGBTQ+ community – we also see that in a lack of board seat representation. It’s a fervent belief of mine that any board, any company, any management team should include diversity on the board or within any other organizational structure because it serves to represent the people that they’re selling to, the people that work for them, and overall societal makeup.
For me it has always been answering this question: how can I help further public companies?
I’ve sat on private boards for a very long time. When you take your experiences, your lived experiences – as a member of the LGBTQ+ community – and you combine it with your professional experiences as an executive, it’s fantastic that we can share those perspectives and experiences in nonprofit boards. But it’s also important that for-profit, publicly listed companies think about the demographics of the people that they serve. It is important that it is reflected on amongst your board of directors, because you get a comprehensive perspective from their professional experiences but also their experiences as people.
I’ve served for eight years on the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors. I spent eight years with President Obama on his LGBTQ+ policy committee. I’ve been a political activist writing policy for the Democratic Party and I’ve sat on Healthcare LGBTQ Advisory Boards. It’s great to volunteer time and use my experience, and it’s a privilege to be able to help companies with more than just my business acumen. I’m just very thankful for the opportunity with Grindr.”
What drives you?
“What drives me is to leave the world a better place than I found it. While it sounds cliché and a commonly used statement, it rings true to my story. I was succeeding in business, and then I had to be my authentic self. And in doing so, I was then demoted from a senior executive all the way down. What motivates me in the climb up that I’ve had and I’m a senior vice President in a leading ecommerce company today.
What motivates me is that I have some privilege and I know it. I’m white, I know my biases and I know my privileges. We need to live in a world where those that have those privileges are able to reach behind them and pull forward those that don’t. I’ve looked around me, especially as a trans person before transition, sitting in boardrooms, sitting in meetings and seeing the male dominance and racial bias on display in meetings where I’ve challenged people to walk through the world with awareness.
I challenge everyone to think how you can be better humans. I like to bring the humanity to the work that I do. I talk about humanity with my staff. I don’t talk about individuals. I look at the word humanity and try to drive that home. What drives me to do what I do is to leave the world better than I found it.”
You mentioned being demoted. How did that affect where you are today?
“I came out about transitioning in 2004, and I was an executive in a software company in Texas. I had two pathways. I could either finally accept who I knew I’d been since I was five years old and take the risks of losing my job, losing my income, my house, my family, losing respect, or I could take an easy way out. There was a moment in my life when I had a gun in my hand ready to end it because of the risks. I decided that ending it as somebody who is passionate, outspoken, and loves people – I realized there are probably other people that are in the same boat that I’m in. I needed to use my voice to be able to speak out for other people that may be like me and give them hope. This was before Janet Mock, Laverne Cox, and Caitlin Jenner. This is before you really had anybody that in the celebrity space was known, and there weren’t that many luminaries of trans people that were out there. I decided to take the risk and be my true self.
As a senior executive, I was told: “we can’t have you meeting with customers because we may lose contracts. We can’t have you with this title. We’re going to have to move you to another title because you don’t have people reporting to you. You can’t be a senior director. You’ve got to be a director. Oh, by the way, you can’t be paid at what you were being paid beforehand because you’re no longer an executive. Your pay has got to go down. But the good thing is, Meghan, you’ve still got a job. And because you’ve got a job, you have health insurance. Life is good, right?”
That’s the level of demotion that I dealt with. There was no guiding lighthouse for me to go to, I struggled to get through it. Because trans people weren’t around or weren’t commonly known in those days. So in 2004, when I was transitioning and transitioned in work, it was a huge thing to go through.
However, I am proud to say my career is back. I work today for a company that is embracing and is a supportive champion of diversity in everything that we do. I’m a Senior Vice President. I run international marketing, product marketing, communications, analyst relations and overall strategy. It’s not the 2004 that I was in. It’s 2022. But discrimination still sits out there. And that’s why I believe that visibility matters. Visibility is important to ensure another person isn’t demoted for being who they are.”
On Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – what advice would you give companies?
“If you’re looking at to bring more diversity into leadership roles or board roles, there are several things that a company needs to think about. Companies need to resemble the people, the communities, the demographics that they serve. If you really want to change your demographic makeup, look to start with your board composition and your executive team composition. And if you see that it is not balanced and it’s outweighed by whiteness and by maleness and privilege, you’ve got a problem. It’s not about having a quota – needing three women, two people of color, one gay, one lesbian, and one trans. It’s not about having numbers. It’s about having representation. And for us in the community, it’s about being a part of the conversation and not the conversation. We bring value with our diversity and empathy. We bring awareness and experience.
I’ve got 30 years’ worth of technology, marketing, sales, and development services experience. But I also have a life that is lived both in the closet and out of the closet. The life that was lived in my assigned male at birth role and then a life that I live since 2004 is my female identity post-operative trans person. I bring my equity voice to the table and that’s what others can do. My advice for companies would be to bring equity voices to the table.”
How would you like to see Pride month celebrated?
“I wish we didn’t have to. I really wish that we didn’t have to celebrate Pride Month. I wish it was a given that we are accepted, valued and honored every day. Just like Black people should be valued every day and not just Black history month. Pride was started because of the police action stonewall in New York and the horrors, the terrors, and everything that had happened leading up to 1969 over a couple of generations.
Pride started as a stance to fight back. We’re here, with a we’re not going anywhere type of movement. That came into a celebration in cities, big and small to show that LGBTQ+ people exist. It’s because so much discrimination existed and so much discrimination still exists today. So I hope that Pride is celebrated not just by the LGBTQ+ community, but that Pride is celebrated authentically by businesses, corporations and allies.
I hope businesses and corporations don’t just sponsor a Pride event and donate their rainbow swag and use it as a marketing opportunity, but they really invest. They invest in their local community, in the resource centers, in medical facilities, in supporting underprivileged children and opportunities for minorities. But it’s broader than being specifically LGBTQ+ related. It’s the fact that being the L, the G, the B, the T, the I, whatever the letter is, those letters don’t discriminate. You could be black and a lesbian. You could be white and lesbian or trans. LGBTQ+ people are across every piece of the fabric of American and global society with a texture of that fabric that makes it shine. To celebrate Pride is beyond the rainbow colors and a party. It’s about ensuring that the interwovenness of the texture of us is not just celebrated but is worthy of more than just a party and a rainbow gathering. That it’s a consistency in hiring. It’s a consistency in opportunity. It’s a consistency in community across the spectrum. And for that, we have a long way to go.”
Is there anything else you would like to share?
“I just want to say I am extremely thankful. I’m thankful for where I am. I’m thankful that people like Suki and the people at Audeliss, and others that get a chance to make a difference in the world. I’m truly blessed that I’m still here. I didn’t make an alternative decision back in 2004 that I’m still here to see the world through and enjoy it along the way. Despite how we talk about the texture of the tapestry of the fabric and stuff, but no matter how rough the edges of that tapestry is right now, it’s still an enjoyment to see how we’re progressing and still need to progress as a society.”