Beyond the Parade: Celebrating Pride Month at Sitel Group®
To mark Pride Month 2021, members of our LGBTQ+ community discuss the importance of being an ally and outline the challenges still facing the community today.
June marks a month of celebration for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a time to come together, show support and raise awareness. June also represents a month to reflect, not only on the progress made, but on the work that still needs to be done. In the United States alone, 46% of LGBTQ workers are closeted in the workplace.
At Sitel Group®, we believe that we all have a role in driving equality and inclusion forward, whether as a member of the community or as an ally. As part of our Listen to Lead & Learn series, we are opening up a dialogue with the hope to spark action and drive progress forward. Watch the conversation below:
Being a Better Ally
Pride Month takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, a pivotal moment in history that sparked the start of the gay liberation movement. While we’ve made undeniable progress since then, it’s also important to recognize that there is work to be done. At Sitel Group, being a good ally starts with education.
“We are a very diverse organization—a very diverse community—and that’s something that we celebrate every day. I think what we need to discuss and what we need to prioritize is talking about the importance of fostering inclusivity across the organization,” says Jorelle Robles, Head of Marketing for the APAC region. “Teaching everyone what inclusiveness is and making it part of our different processes.”
Allies play an essential role in an equitable future. They can identify bias within an organization, help drive equity and visibility and advocate for LGBTQ+ members.
When it comes to ways employers can be allies, Marianne Casquejo, Learning & Development Specialist, shares her experience as a trans woman, speaking to the importance of mental health.
Organizations have the power to lead by example. According to Josue Trejos, Senior Manager of Employment Branding, companies should take action and make the voice heard, creating programs to educate not just members of the LGBTQ+ community but also allies.
The Other Side of the Rainbow
Traditionally, Pride celebrations are bold, lively and colorful, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While the month is an opportunity to celebrate the differences and similarities that bind us together, it’s also a time to recognize the many people fighting for their right to live freely and authentically.
For the LGTBQ+ community, self-acceptance can be difficult. Developing a positive identity can be challenging for any young person, especially those questioning or exploring their sexual orientation or gender identity. While some people feel secure and supported in their sexual or gender identities from day one, many still experience stigma, prejudice and/or discrimination. One-fifth (20%) of LGBTQ Americans have experienced discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity when applying for jobs.
“When you spend so much time trying to hide parts of you, it kind of spreads and infects your whole being,” explains Joshua Peters, Senior Manager, Operations. “So, you are not your most authentic, most successful, energetic self. You’re some version of yourself that’s not the best.”
Now, more than ever, organizations that want to tap into the full potential of their people should be taking action to create a safe and inclusive workplace. This is key to making employees feel welcome, celebrated and affirmed.
At Sitel Group, we are committed to creating a respectful and safe environment for our people—regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
BE BOLD, BE PROUD.
Part of fostering inclusivity in the workplace is creating a supportive atmosphere for people to thrive in. LGBTQ+ members who feel like they need to hide their identity at work often feel greater levels of anxiety or stress.
At Sitel Group, associates are encouraged to dress how they like, speak their minds and be bold and proud of their differences—whether they’re working from one of our contact centers or the comfort of their home.
Having access to growth opportunities and training are also essential to professional development. Carrie Richardson, HR Coordinator, Sitel® Scotland, who started as an agent on the phone six years ago, is now celebrating her recent promotion to her dream role. “I can’t say enough how much this company, one million percent, will invest in their people,” says Carrie.
Jorelle explains how having exposure to different organizations in the Philippines helped him expand his network and understand what more can be done in terms of diversity and inclusion—not just at work but also in the country.
Joshua says that working at Sitel Group has helped him become more empathetic, passionate and understanding. He attributes his success to the trust instilled by his leadership.
For trans people, job opportunities are often underlined with stigma and discrimination. In fact, transgender workers are subject to different types of harassment than LGBTQ+ workers, including bathroom accessibility, being deliberately referred to by incorrect pronouns and having to tolerate inappropriate questions, which can lead to employee disengagement and avoidance. Marianne hopes that her professional success in the BPO industry inspires other trans women like her to make the best of their life and live with purpose.
Working Together for Diversity and Inclusion
To wrap up the conversation, we asked our participants to share a message with the LGBTQ+ community. Their answers touched on the topics of self-acceptance, community support and embracing the process.
First, whether you’re struggling to accept yourself or building up the courage to come out to friends and family, don’t rush the process. Coming to terms with yourself is a process and it can take some time to be comfortable. Know that this is okay, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Come out when you feel ready and safe. For allies, this is an opportunity to support by validating the person’s feelings.
All of our participants agree that finding a support system is fundamental. Lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. Whether you’ve just come out, are thinking about coming out, transitioning or struggling with self-acceptance, a healthy support network provides not only words of encouragement but a safe space to process emotions. Once you find your people, don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with them.
Last but not least, learn to love yourself and embrace your uniqueness. Self-acceptance is the first step. You need to love yourself before you can expect other people to love you for who you are. Accept who you are and inspire others who are struggling to do the same.
Watch the full conversation below and read more stories from our people at voices.sitel.com.