Bringing your whole self to work is a concept that’s very important to me. And during Pride Month, it’s especially relevant.
Pride Month gives us time to reflect on LGBTQ+ history and where we are today as a community. It was birthed from the Stonewall Riots in 1969 that occurred in response to the police invasion of a gay club in Greenwich Village, New York City. Our pride flag is a physical representation of that movement. It’s a reminder for us to be proud of who we are and where we come from as a community. For me, Pride Month is about celebrating who I am with the people who are most important in my life — my chosen family. It’s also about acknowledging how I ended up in a place where I’m able to celebrate fully.
Bringing your whole self to work, for me, means not having to compartmentalize and not having to worry about how I might be perceived. When I bring my whole self to work, I’m able to focus on solving problems, innovating, and building instead of worrying about who I am and how that might impact me or my career. Thinking about how I need to present myself takes time, energy, and focus away from doing all the great work I am responsible for.
When I entered the workforce over 12 years ago, it was much different than it is today. I didn’t think I would be able to get married, have kids, or be fully open and out at work. I started my career in more conservative industries — consulting and financial services — where I personally felt I had to compartmentalize myself. I had my work self and my personal self. I wouldn’t dare think about bringing my whole self to work for fear of being different from everyone else and being ostracized for that difference.
One example from early in my career that reinforced why I had to compartmentalize occurred when my team was hanging out and chatting toward the end of the workday. Our boss was joking with us about various finance topics at our company and decided to give everyone fake titles like Chief Rounding Officer and Chief Allocation Officer. When it came to giving me a title, I got Chief Fashion Officer. While I recognize the intent was not malicious, it made me feel different because my title had nothing to do with finance compared to everyone else on the team.
At this point in my career and working at Branch, it’s a completely different environment. Who I am is viewed as an asset rather than a liability. This is driven by the culture and work environment, as well as by how every employee treats each other at Branch. I can focus on work without having to worry about how I might be perceived in the office. I’m recognized for the skills and experiences I bring to the table instead of just for how fashionable I appear.
Branch’s open and accepting environment enables me to be myself. I can speak up, have a seat at the table, and know my voice has been heard. Whether we agree or disagree, having that opportunity to feel heard because of my skills and experiences — regardless of who I am — is super important. I truly feel I can bring my whole self to work.
It’s during Pride Month that I give myself time to reflect on why bringing your whole self to work is so valuable, especially since it wasn’t always possible for me and so many others. Now, I’m most excited for all the fun events and celebrations that will allow me to connect with my coworkers and honor how our differences create innovation and growth. Not only for our company, but also for our whole selves.