HR Magazine – Out and proud: experiences as an out model

Every June, we see companies turn to LinkedIn and other social media platforms to adorn their pages with the rainbow tones of the Pride Flag. The gesture is meant to show that the organization is an ally of the LGBT+ community, but with so many businesses now flying the flag, the act has started to feel somewhat ‘performative’.

Unfortunately, this is becoming a corporate “norm,” making it difficult to decipher who a true ally is.

Of course, companies must show their support for Pride. It is a vital institution for the LGBT+ community and a beacon of hope for the future of equality. However, if organizations want to avoid rainbow-washing, there are some things they should remember when it comes to showing their support and taking action.

Work for better LGBT+ inclusion:

Leadership diversity is necessary for LGBT+ employees to thrive

A third of UK employees feel LGBT+ support stops at Pride

No Symbolism: Here’s How You Can Really Help LGBT+ Staff

My experiences over the years

Everyone in the LGBT+ community has had a different experience and has a different relationship with pride. I came out at 22, but early in my career I was told that not talking openly about my sexuality at work was the best thing for my job. With this advice ringing in my ears, I knelt down and followed the advice of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, feeling the need to stay on my toes.

Fast forward 20 years and I’m at Kyndryl, a different company with a totally different culture where I now have the chance to be an executive and technical leader.

My experiences at work have shaped my drive to change the industry for the better and I feel it’s my duty to put my head above the parapet. This led me to get involved in a number of company initiatives, including the “out role model” program.

Everyone (but especially those at the start of their career) should have a role model they can identify with, however they identify.

What should companies do differently and why?

Acceptance must be embedded in the corporate culture and transmitted across teams and disciplines.

At my current company, we embrace the role model program as well as employee-led resource groups that are dedicated to creating spaces where everyone can find and provide support and guidance.

These networks are essential for companies to create as they strive to pursue the advancement of the respective communities by focusing on recruitment, retention, advancement and alliance.

They also ensure that every voice is heard within a company and that a diverse group of people and opinions are seen and championed.

With regard to the promotion of equality, I think that many organizations could benefit from a fresh look and the adoption of these measures.

Achieving a people-centric culture is fundamental to nurturing a content workforce, which remains focused, motivated and loyal.

Talent comes from all walks of life – it’s important that companies support those they employ and reflect society as a whole.

Showing support for the LGBT+ community with a pride flag is a great start, but it needs to be backed up with ongoing action and commitment.

We still have a long way to go on the road to equality, however, companies can easily put in place initiatives to support their employees and drive change. All it takes is someone to lead the movement.

Nick Drouet is Chief Technology Officer UKI of technology company Kyndryl

Rebecca R. Santistevan