Written by Guest Blogger, Jesse Gutierrez
Hi, everyone! Happy Pride month to my queer community, allies and all! Pride is a time to come together – everyone is welcomed. By the end of this blog post I hope you learn at least one new thing about the LGBT+ community and I welcome you to continue the conversation, and continue learning, by reaching out to LGBT+ friends, peers and/or family. If you do not know anyone that identifies with the LGBT+ community… Well, now you know me!
What is ‘Pride month’ and what does it mean to me?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stone Wall Uprising that took place in NYC in 1969. This event sparked the Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans+ (LGBT+) movement as we know it today. Presently, many people celebrate Pride month, in June, by attending parades, fests and marches. Pride month is also a time when we call out the struggles the LGBT+ community has undergone and when we can shed a light on the journey towards inclusion and equal rights; it is not all rainbows and butterflies, as some might think!
Before moving forward, I wanted to shed a light on how the Stonewall Uprising began: black Trans Woman played a large role in galvanizing this movement and we must never forget this history. Today, we owe a large portion of our progress to this group of LGBT+ individuals and it is important to note there is so much more to the LGBT+ community than the present-day celebrations taking place every June.
How would you describe your experience in Schneider Electric?
I am a gay, Hispanic, millennial. I like sharing all these identities because intersectionality is key in understanding the complexities and beauty that makes us who we are. Personally, I feel #PRIDE working for a company that truly values who I am as an individual and all that I can bring to the organization, regardless of my background. DID YOU KNOW 24% of LGBT workers attribute their decisions to come out professionally to a strong network of allies (The Power of Out 2.0, CTI, 2013)?
In other words, ALLIES play a large role in creating SAFE SPACES where we can bring our authentic selves to work. I can personally say this is what made it easier for me to come out to my colleagues. Although I have been out for quite some time, I have to continuously come out every time I have a new manager or a new team since my sexual orientation is not blatantly obvious, unlike some cultural and gender related traits. While everyone’s experiences are unique, I have experienced a feeling of safety and belonging since joining the company back in 2016.
Because of this, I was motivated to facilitate the launch of our company’s first LGBT+ Employee Resource Group (ERG): Schneider LGBT+ and Allies. Since then we have launched additional ERGs in the US, and we are now globalizing our efforts and providing a safe space for others, LGBT+ and/or Allies to join in on the conversation all around the world. By supporting one another to be, and do, our best we know we will beat the competition! When you are truly included and feel a sense of belonging you worry less about “fitting in” and you have more time to innovate and drive business results!
How is Schneider Electric celebrating Pride Month?
This year, Schneider is focusing on two key themes for Pride Month: developing ALLYSHIP and EMBRACING DIFFERENT. We want to empower employees to become stronger allies to the LGBT+ community and to foster empathy for one another through authentic and open dialogue. We are achieving this by shedding a light on LGBT+ history, culture, our diversity & inclusion (D&I) ambition and by igniting local support via face to face and virtual events.
In the US, we have 12 sites hosting LGBT+ events and initiatives in honor of Pride month. We have hosted Ted Talk viewings, LGBT+ and ally panels and a World Café – where Senior Leaders share their perspective on LGBT+ inclusion. Externally we have participated in various Pride Parades and more recently we were included on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index!
“When launching Schneider Electric’s first ever LGBT+ and Allies Employee Resource Group (ERG) in 2016 I was given nothing but support and allyship from my manager and colleagues! Three years later and I am very PROUD to share we now have ERGs across 12 US sites hosting Pride Month celebrations!”
– Jesse Gutierrez,
Customer Experience Project Specialist
And we have even more events going on around the world in Brazil, Hong Kong, the UK, Spain, and Hungary to name a few. Not only does this highlight our commitment to inclusion but it also highlights the leadership within the organization. We know the journey to full LGBT+ inclusion is a long one and we are committed to be better, and do more, with each passing day. I’m proud to see that leaders across the company have stepped up to extend allyship for the LGBT+ community and to #embracedifferent.
How can we be better allies?
There are so many simple ways to become better allies. In the workplace, I would say reach out to employees and build relationships. You will find out a lot about your coworkers just by taking the time to ask them about their personal lives. If your organization has an Employee Resource Group (ERG) focusing on LGBT+ issues, befriend these ERG members and learn more about the group’s mission, their hardships and some of their accomplishments. Education is key to building understanding and we learn a lot about people by spending time with them and having authentic dialogue. For example, when Schneider Electric has events focusing on Women empowerment, I make sure to attend and let my female colleagues know I am an ally in the fight for gender equality and inclusion in the workplace. I try to actively advocate for all of our #SEGreatPeople.
About the Author
Hi, everyone! To give you some background on my personal and professional journey, I was born and raised in Southern California (Los Angeles and Orange County). After receiving my Master’s Degree in Leadership Development in 2016 I joined Schneider Electric’s Inside Sales Development program in Costa Mesa, California. I currently hold the role of Customer Experience Project Specialist and work out of Schneider’s Chicago Hub. On a typical day, I lead various employee and customer experience activities: Customer Centricity, Employee Engagement and the Technical Expert Assessment program to name a few. Currently serving as Schneider’s LGBT+ and Allies Employee Resource Group National President, I strive to foster a deeper sense of inclusion for the LGBT+ community and I focus on building awareness in the Diversity and Inclusion space for all diversities (i.e. cultural, capabilities, gender, generations, lgbt+, veterans, etc.) In my spare time you can find me running alongside Lake Michigan, being productive at local coffee shops and attending concerts and festivals whenever possible!
Thanks for your time reading my blog and HAPPY PRIDE! 🏳️🌈
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