It is our desire to progress and grow, both professionally and personally, which helps us succeed and make our mark on the world. To say “I was here,” This is who I am,’” and, when things go right say, “Yes, that was me.” But what if your mark, your brand, your sense of self, was a little dimmer and more distant than most? What if you have been subconsciously turning down the settings of your life so that the world never experiences your full, high-definition self?
Our identities are not just what we see on our passports – they are ingrained in every cell of our beings. Your identity is yours to own and, if you tone it down, you are, in effect, toning down your true self and denying those around you the opportunity to see you clearly. Once you allow your eyes to adjust to the low-lit corners of the room, you can easily forget that a full-HD life option exists, convincing yourself and everyone around you that you can see just fine. But, if you reach out for the light switch, you will be greeted by the realization that by being yourself you can grow and thrive in all aspects of your life. When you bring that to work, there’ll be no stopping you.
Last year, I asked my manager, “If the company knew I was gay, would this impede my career development in any way?” I felt pretty stupid asking the question, yet the words were leaving my mouth and I couldn’t take them back. I guess the real question is, why was I asking? Probably because, like so many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people, I wanted to be proud of who I was. On the other hand, I unequivocally did not want to be labelled or looked upon as different in any way. If I was deemed different, would a hiring manager fail to support or promote me? This was a real concern, valid or otherwise. My manager put my concerns to rest and I left that meeting with a change in resolution and a little brighter than before. I then proceeded to launch Pride, our LGBT Employee Resource Group, in Dublin. I haven’t looked back.
Since then I have seen many colleagues launch Pride groups at their own sites and go through the same experience – turning on their light switches, making their mark and changing perceptions of what it means to be LGBT. Each group that launched demonstrated that this was not a corporate box-ticking exercise, but helmed by real people who strongly believed in the importance of LGBT visibility and support. One by one, the switches were flipped and we waited for the Dell lights of support to shine. Did they shine? You bet they did!
Our leaders took the front line in launching our ‘Be Yourself’ campaign throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), allowing our Pride support groups to be reflective of Dell as a whole. Support beamed across EMEA, uniting cultures, backgrounds, genders, LGBT colleagues and straight allies to write a clear message – Dell not only accepts all of our differences, but actively appreciates and encourages each and every one of us to be ourselves.
What did this mean? This meant A LOT to our LGBT colleagues and support groups. Not only were they accepted, but it helped to redefine what it means to stand together. Dell Pride became more than a group for the LGBT community, it began to encompass all who believe in the unmeasurable, ever-growing, ever-changing, wonderful sense of individuality. To an LGBT person, this meant being seen, heard, and counted.
So, what would happen if you were to turn up the settings up on your own life? Turn them way up! So you are seen and heard the way you were meant to be, the way you feel on the inside – whatever that may be. Now is the time to be all you can be. Now is the time to be yourself. On close inspection, we are a network of thousands of ambitious, hardworking, inspiring and inspired people who are proud to come to work every day. From a distance, we are Dell and I am so pleased and proud to be here.
For information about Pride and Dell’s Employee Resource Groups please follow this link.