Whilst it may feel like we’ve come a long way in creating safe and welcoming spaces for those who identify as LGBTQI+, we still know that many people don’t feel comfortable being out at work. Celebrating Pride and Diversity welcoming all LGBTQI+ people to bring their whole selves to work is an important step in supporting employees.
WORK180 is dedicated to keeping progress going, which is why we spoke to 12 employees with first-hand experience working for diverse and inclusive employers, some of whom we are proud to call WORK180 Endorsed Employers. Their individual stories and insights reveal ways in which companies can create a safe and supportive workplace for LGBTQI+ employees, and show the positive impact that progressive workplace policies can have on an individual’s life — get ready to be inspired by their heartwarming stories.
Maggie Lanza, Supply Chain Manager – TE Connectivity
“What’s most important to me is representation, especially in the workplace. Whether it is representation of the Latino community, or women in management, or the LGBTQ community.
I feel that when I was younger, I always looked for older individuals that I could look up to, and I feel that if I can be that for a young person, then I’ve accomplished one of my passions.” * Watch Maggie’s story
Chris Cockshaw, Vice President and Principal Project Manager – Mott Macdonald
I personally feel very comfortable and safe as an openly gay man in the workplace. As the leader of Mott MacDonald’s “Advancing LGBT+” equality, diversity and inclusion initiative for North and South America, we focus on spotlighting/interviewing our LGBT+ employees, highlighting LGBT+ events and conferences across North America and educating many of our colleagues who may not be as familiar with LGBT+ issues.
“I got married in October 2019. Mott MacDonald has a monthly newsletter celebrating weddings, births and retirements of our employees around the globe. Historically, the wedding photos show only cis-gender heterosexual couples, so it was with trepidation that I sent two wedding photos in for consideration. I told the newsletter editor to choose the photo that they were more comfortable sharing. The response was “They’re both so beautiful, we’re deciding to run both photos”. And they did. And the feedback I received was extremely positive and celebratory.” * Read more about Chris
Tyrone Webb, Jr., Head of Global Field Communications – SAP SuccessFactors
“My boyfriend is a cop in Atlanta and with all that is going on, many colleagues have reached out letting me know they are praying for him and support me by making sure I am okay. This means a lot. The fact that I can openly share my relationship at work and to have the support of colleagues is tremendous.” * Read more about Tyrone
Ellis Kiper, Project Coordinator – Astellas US Technologies, Inc.
“As a Transgendered person, several life events have been disappointing and, at times, terrifying. Over the years as an Astellas employee, I’ve watched Astellas grow to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in its global workplace culture. By providing acceptance and supporting inclusion and diversity for me and others at work, Astellas also helps me stay true to myself – as true and authentic in closed conference rooms and company events as I am walking through a grocery store or sitting in a restaurant.” * Read more about Ellis
Takeo Kushibiki, Senior Marketing Manager, TE Connectivity
“Living in a country where conformity is top priority, coming out as a gay was the hardest thing for me to do. However, working at TE for five years, I feel that my office right now is very much protected, very safe for LGBTQ people.” * Watch Takeo’s story
Chris Crosby, Team Leader in the Charge Verification – Discover Financial Services
“A time when I felt truly supported was when the ability for LGBT to marry was passed. During that moment was a unified time where the entire company was happy and in support of equal rights for this group of employees. Multiple employees walked up to me and expressed their excitement and led with congratulations. The company also sent out a company wide email showing support. Reading that email allowed me to know that I made the right choice for an employer.” * Read more about Chris
Lode Vermeiren, Spokesperson and Senior Solutions Engineer – VMware
It really helps when leadership shows they want to embrace openness by taking action, rather than talking. It’s been refreshing to see VMware company execs adding their pronouns to their email signature, or featuring a rainbow background in their Zoom calls for Pride Month. This lowers the bar for others to do the same, whether they are part of the LGBTIQA+ community or not.
“From the first day I joined VMware, I was able to be open about my relationship, and no one batted an eye when I mentioned my partner. HR was always clear that our benefits extended to him just like they did to other spouses.” * Read more about Lode
Stephanie DeGazon, Associate Server Administrator, Digital Services Video Deployment & Operations – Altice
In June of 2018, my wife and I welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world. Just before I went out on bonding leave, my department manager organized a surprise office baby shower for us – he even included upper management. The shower was absolutely unexpected, especially since I was fairly new to the department and I wasn’t the one carrying our baby. It was comforting to be able to openly discuss the joys and anxieties of first-time parenthood with my coworkers. They shared tips and advice, sentimental memories of when they first became parents; I saw genuine excitement from my management and teammates.
“Some may dread the seemingly mundane office baby shower but to me, it felt nice to feel included and treated like any other couple embarking on a journey to sleepless nights, dirty diapers and a lifetime of loving memories.” * Read more about Stephanie
Linus Bourque | Principal Instructor, VMware
“I traveled to an onsite work meeting in North Carolina, USA after the state had instituted a new bathroom law where peoples’ IDs could be checked to see if the gender on their ID matched the gender-specific bathroom they were entering. Since my ID still reflects my birth gender, this could have been problematic for me (with a full beard and all).” * Read more about Linus
Andy Rubinson, Sr. Director of Product Strategy – SAP
“Working in Massachusetts, I already feel very comfortable being out in the workplace. I have pictures of my husband prominently displayed and I take him to our office holiday celebration. The biggest thing that SAP already does is stand up for diversity and inclusion, including support from executive levels all the way up to our CEO.” * Read more about Andy
Kathy Driscoll | Chief Nursing Officer, Humana
As Humana’s Chief Nursing Officer and Co-Sponsor of Humana’s Pride Network Resource Group, Kathy Driscoll has a unique role to play in championing the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ population of both Humana associates and its members. Kathy was instrumental in advocating for a collaboration between the Pride NRG and Humana’s Senior Bridge New York Branch Office to sponsor clinician training on Supporting LGBT Older Adults provided by SAGE. SAGE is a national advocacy and services organization that has been championing for the healthcare needs of LGBT elders since 1978. More than 30 associates in roles ranging from Home Health Aides, Nurses, Social Workers, to Schedulers, Administrators, and Supervisors attended. The purpose of the training, was to provide foundational cultural fluency education and best practices for meeting the healthcare needs of LGBT seniors. Immediately after the training, leadership received feedback from one participant sharing,
“This is the first company that I’ve worked for that has taken LGBT inclusion as seriously as you have. I’m positive that there are participants that have gained a new perspective because of today.”
Additional training is now scheduled for other Humana associates so that they can be better advocates for LGBTQ+ seniors’ health.
Nola Turnage, Co-Leader – POC@Okta & Sr. Contracts Manager – Legal Operations Group, Okta
“In my 30+ years working in corporate America, this has been my first experience where we are actively working toward the goal and not just talking about being diverse or talking about people feeling welcome or included. What I see is taking steps to get there.” * Watch more inspirational stories from Okta employees