What Does Intersectionality Mean to a Gay and Hispanic man?

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In celebration of Pride Month 2021, Hector shares with us his experience with intersectionality, how it impacts him, and what can be done in the workplace for our LGBT+ community. Héctor F. Solís is the Head of Global HR Services PMO in Monterrey, Mexico. As a proud and visible gay Hispanic professional, he enjoys sharing his experiencing and spreading awareness. In addition to his work, he is the leader of the Global LGBT+ & Allies Employee Resource Network and is launching the Mexico LGBT+ & Allies Network this month. 

Last year, I wrote about my experience as an openly gay leader at Schneider Electric and my personal journey on how I have been empowered to be my unique self with the support of my leaders, colleagues, and business partners.

How to Foster a Culture of Respect?

Being an openly gay man has not been an easy journey. It has been full of fear, uncertainty, and anguish. However, with the love of my family, friends, and the continuous support of my Schneider Electric colleagues, leaders, and business partners, I view this journey as a true blessing, and over time, I see that it has gotten better for me and others. Being open and raising awareness, has given me the opportunity to start challenging the status quo and lead global cross-functional teams to shift from ideas/plans to actual day-to-day execution, where being LGBT+ or an ally becomes part of our DNA.

How can we achieve this?

Well, it all starts with respect. First, we need to recognize that respect is a big word both in concept and in practice. It requires a lot of work to really put into practice and it requires all of us to be involved.

Respect involves me, you, and others. Respect requires us to be disruptive with our own beliefs and to challenge ourselves.

Fostering a true culture of respect will give you and me the ability to openly discuss any subject we want while keeping in mind that we may have different opinions but we both agree to value each other. This will help build the bridges that will unite us as colleagues, an organization, and a community.

It all starts with respect. We need to recognize and value all the diversities of an individual –  their cultures, backgrounds, personal beliefs, religions, generational experiences, sexual orientation, and gender identities to foster collaboration and a culture of true respect.

What is Intersectionality?

Intersectionality is a term used to describe how the way in which people’s identities (gender, socioeconomic statuses, ethnicities, ages, disabilities) overlap and ‘intersect’. This term acknowledges that people’s identities are more than just the sum of their parts and that there exists a compounded and complex nature of the disadvantages these individuals might face (or of the privileges they hold), based on their intersecting identities.

For us in Mexico, even as a multicultural, multiethnic country, it is still a challenge to be an out and open LGBT+ individual, but it is also very difficult to be Hispanic because of all stereotypes we face. We, Latin Americans, are capable people with the same abilities and skills as others. But I consider myself lucky because I haven’t felt as many struggles as other Latin Americans. Perhaps this is because I have white skin, and this puts me in a “privileged” spot. It is not fair as there are many people facing additional struggles because of these stereotypes or the color of their skin.

In one of my past experiences outside of the company, I disclosed my sexuality to people and they have told me “well at least you’re white and don’t look Mexican”. In this case, people embraced my sexuality better than someone with darker skin. Mexicans and Hispanics, in general, are often judged by skin color, if you add in the intersection of sexuality, the discrimination only increases.

There is still a lot of work to do so everyone is accepted based on who they are and not limited by stereotypes or bias.

Intersectionality in the Workplace

This is why it is so important that intersectionality is included in our diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Recognizing that the interrelationship of a person’s diversities results in different experiences and needs, our policies and practices need to be developed to protect our employees from being discriminated against.

In my 9 years at Schneider, I have experienced full respect of my peers, leaders, and business partners while talking about my husband and family. I’ve had the fortune of not experiencing any harmful situations while being openly gay, however, there is still much to do in countries/regions where being LGBT+ is a challenge, we all have the responsibility to promote respect, I know for sure Schneider will continue striving for it

At Schneider, we recognize and celebrate LGBT+ individuals in all their diversity and uniqueness, as we aim to build awareness and advocate for the community.  This pandemic has shown us that more than ever it is important to be open, authentic, and to embrace differences. For me, I hope this past year will be the trigger for all of us to unite in one voice that we are all important and we deserve to be valued and safe to be our unique selves.

My Commitment

It starts with respect. I will commit to sharing my own personal experience with my peers, colleagues, leaders, and business partners to create awareness of how important is to promote a culture of respect and create an inclusive and safe environment. I will encourage others to be allies and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace as the right thing to do and will continue supporting our LGBT+ community inside and outside our organization to little by little have a world free of discrimination and where all can be their unique self.

To learn more about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Schneider Electric, visit our website, www.se.com/diversity

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  • Aishwarya

    3 years ago

    This is great and very insightful. I am glad to be able to work with you and with a company that actively supports, accepts, and encourages people from all backgrounds.
    Thank you for sharing, Hector, I see more and more hope every day!

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