Out in the Workplace: “The easiest answer is to be yourself.”

The FindSpark community celebrates diversity, inclusion, and of course, a hustler’s mindset. As a way to celebrate Pride month, we’re excited to share insight from our community members who identify as LGBTQ about being out in the workplace.

We reached out to our community to hear about their experiences and what employers can do to promote inclusivity and encourage their employees to be open about themselves.

Cody Bordeau

What can businesses or employers do to create a culture of inclusion in the workplace?

Have a more personal rapport to foster mutual understanding.

What are some of your best recommended resources for keeping up with LGBTQ issues?

Reading the newspaper and constantly researching issues that catch my eye, to stay informed about local and national issues that will impact my daily life. Education builds relationships and the more people have a desire to learn the easier it is to establish meaningful connections both in and out of the work environment.

What are examples of events or initiatives that you have participated in through your LGBT employee resource group at work?

We do not have one. Madison Square Garden does task a huge dedication into the Garden of Dreams which is a charitable organization to benefit multiple causes involving the youth. It would be interesting to see more niche projects that could reach out and aid LGBT youth groups in the future.

How has your office experience been affected by coming out in the workplace?

My personal experience is all I have to judge an “office experience” on, so it is hard to determine my sexual orientation and how that affects my performance. I do think gender roles and stereotypes transpire unknowingly all of the time and it is your personal responsibility to make light of that or bring it to attention. A manager should have all of her/his employees’ requests in high priority so the sign you are working for a good company is when these thoughts and concerns are taken seriously at your discretion.

How do I know whether or not to come out at work?

The easiest answer is to be yourself. If you are putting your nose to the books and typing away at your keyboard, producing quality work in a punctual manner; your sexual orientation is irrelevant. That being said, social interaction is important in creating a communicative team, therefore if being yourself brings out your orientation then everyone should embrace it and if people don’t, then you have a different situation to deal with.

When was a time you faced adversity? How did you solve the problem?

I tend to stick up for myself when I believe the truth is being disguised. Adversity happens every day, sad but true. A time I faced adversity was when a previous supervisor openly treated me differently. There are many ways to angle the position but basically, with job security and lack of hard evidence, it was difficult to stand up for myself while also not jumping to conclusions. The best way I could solve the problem was to do my work above and beyond expectations, arrive early and leave later from work, and to constantly communicate projects I was working on so there was no gray area she could punish my efforts for. I think this attitude will put you above your peers and even if the person causing you issues doesn’t appreciate you, others will see and that will take you far.

What is your advice for someone who may be struggling with being out in the workplace?

Similar to the above, but also to be open and communicate how you process information or regulate your emotions. If being out in the workplace is that hard, bring your efforts and focus on your work because that is what you are there to do. Human resources and supervisors or mentors should be your allies, give you the confidence and resources to continue to succeed, and allow you to create a feasible trajectory that has nothing to do with your issues of being out at work.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about your experience?

Positive attitudes are usually contagious. Being well-mannered, responsible, punctual, and delivering quality work will never steer you wrong. When you feel that people are hindering your performance, encourage yourself that every situation is temporary, every obstacle can be overcome, and the more effort you put into your work performance, the less your orientation will even matter because there is definitely a pinnacle of achievement where people cannot argue your accomplishments.

This article was originally published in 2016

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