Advocating for Equality: My Career Journey
I’ve been in technology ever since someone dropped a book called “the internet” on my desk in the spring of 1996. I’m now a technical project manager at Workday, a leader in enterprise cloud applications for finance and HR. It’s incredible to think back to how rudimentary the web was when it started, and how robust it is today.
This summer is also my 37th anniversary coming out as a gay man. Just as technology has evolved, so has the role of openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people in society and the workplace.
Facing Discrimination in the Workplace
When I started working in 1985, my goal was to build a career in the military. However, those dreams fell short when in the fall of 1989, the U.S. Navy dismissed me on ‘suspicion of homosexuality.’ This was five years before “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military. With any hope of my military career gone, I moved home to Seattle, Washington — a progressive bubble where I thrived as an openly gay man under workplace protections provided by the state.
When I was ready to leave Seattle, I took a job in Idaho with a motion graphics firm. I couldn’t have imagined I would soon again become the target of workplace discrimination.
The company I worked for was hired to create the motion graphics for the Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles. Imagine my 33-year-old gay self in the Beverly Hills Hilton surrounded by all that spectacle and Hollywood glamour. I queened out a little! However, on my flight home, my boss informed me that my office was being packed up, “I will not stand for a faggot representing my company.” I went to a lawyer expecting to find justice, but soon learned that Idaho had no protections for anti-gay discrimination in the workplace.
A Turning Point in My Life
After being let go from my job in Idaho, I became active in local politics — gaining a reputation as a no-nonsense lobbyist and regularly arguing in front of Senate and House committees when the subject of gay rights was on the docket. I’ve witnessed many successes and setbacks over the years, but one thing that always stuck with me was the importance of having a network of support, especially in the workplace, where we invest so much of our time. This is why being at Workday is so meaningful for me.
Bringing My Best Self to Work(day)
I joined Workday in June 2018 as part of the acquisition of Adaptive Insights. From the very beginning, I noticed Workday’s efforts to champion diversity and leave no room for discriminatory practices. All “Workmates,” what we call Workday employees, have an equal place at the table. Even in Workday’s products, I see how we build with inclusivity, accessibility, and awareness in mind.
But it goes beyond workplace policies and practices. Workday’s culture encourages employees to bring their best selves to work. Bringing my best self to work means I can talk openly about my life with my husband with my coworkers. It’s winning the office costume contest in full drag — complete with a crown, sash, full beard, and taffeta prom gown. Workday creates a safe place to be my best self at work and embraces authenticity, which encourages me to give 100% back.
There is still much more work that needs to be done for many communities around the world and in many workplaces when it comes to true equality, but I’m proud of how far we’ve come, hopeful for the future, and will continue advocating for true equality.
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