Coming Out At Work


This post was originally featured on RecruitingBlogs.com, the day job. I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of “coming out” thanks to an upcoming presentation this week on the Business Case of LGBT Diversity.

That title makes me gag a little bit but I wrote it. I pitched it for a reason.

Why? Because there is a business case for having diverse pipelines for candidates and a bullpen of thoughts from different backgrounds. In retention, recruiting and all of the things you can’t measure – like source of awesome idea.

Here’s where this whole thing started:

Hi. I’m gay. My name is Katrina and I’m still gay. We’re going to work together.

Unicorns.

Rainbow flags.

Ellen.

The big “secret” you have to reveal to everyone you meet. But they can look at you and tell, right? Not necessarily. Well, at least I can say I used to not be that obvious. With my short hair and tomboy demeanor, I could probably be cast on Orange Is The New Black.

That’s how it starts. A look. A subtle hint at a wife instead of a husband. A gay bar. A parade. You have to do it. You have to come out to people all the time – especially at work. Whether you’re more of an “I’ll just put our picture here” or rolling out the rainbow carpet, it’s going to come up.

I find that most people fall somewhere between the two based on how long they’ve been out of the closet anywhere (let alone at work) and the gut check. There’s a bit of a gut check I do during the interview and before I’ll ever come out to someone at work.

Why the hesitation? I guess for me it’s a matter of someone knowing me for the quality of my work, not because I’m gay. If our relationship from minute 1 is about my gay-ness, I’ll eventually be known as the loud lesbian, not the loud all-star marketer that I am.

But here’s the thing. Nobody writes about coming out in the human resources industry; it’s taboo. You can’t ask a bunch of straight HR executives how it feels to be gay at work.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll keep writing about this topic – breaking down coming out to coworkers at different organizations, scenarios to help those of you who haven’t had such a great experience coming out to coworkers and even do a shout out to companies who are doing it right.

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