I am an engineer and started my career in product engineering. In my career at Symantec, I started the LGBT ERG in 2016 as I felt there is a need for employers to show visible support to their LGBT employees. And as an out gay person it was more important for me to have an inclusive workplace. This journey lead me to talk about workplace inclusion not just for me but for everyone.
In Your Career:
Being a visible gay person in IT made me realize that there aren't a lot of out folks there. This also meant that I didn't have a role model to look up to. This realization made me keep pushing the envelope for LGBT inclusion. My involvement within my organization and speaking in international conferences provided me opportunity to meet other people who are in Diversity & Inclusion. At that time since there weren't many organizations that spoke about LGBT inclusion, there was a lack of resource or best practices that a workplace could follow. I started sharing the best practice we do in the conferences. This gay job of mine started the curiosity to learn more about Diversity & Inclusion in workplace. I started to get involved in exploring policies and benefits that needs to be changed for an organization to be more inclusive. Eventually I realized I have more to achieve in the field of Diversity & Inclusion and I have a natural knack of understanding of communities and people. My experience in the grass root activism in the queer movement and my experience in the corporate world provided me the unique understanding of what would be a holistic path towards inclusion.
Being a marginalized community isn't easy. Everyone and everything around me alienated me. And discrimination isn't always direct and on the face. At times it is easy to spot and deal with direct harassment (that doesn't mean it is good) but dealing with micro aggression and people's bias is the difficult one. Also, many times I realized that people just saw me as a gay man and my skills took a back seat. It becomes tough to deal with such unconscious bias when I am reduced to my identity in the workplace. My real-life experiences and my knowledge from the ground helped me address the issues. Being a D&I leader, I was able to create trainings for workplaces that helps change workplace culture and address such issues.
Do not stay silent. Speak up. When we speak up, biased folks do not have an answer. If you are not an out person look out for folks within and outside the organization who can help you navigate the place.
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