What does it mean to be “out at work” in the tech industry? 

Guest post by Fiona Lush, Portfolio Lead at Kyndryl

LGBT+ History Month, celebrated every February, is a fantastic opportunity to bring attention to the continued importance of diverse workforces. While tech organisations are pouring millions into diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, many are still failing to grasp that a diverse workforce is about so much more than filling a quota. 

What does it mean to be “out at work” in the tech industry?

Not only is hiring a diverse workforce the right, socially just thing to do, but research shows that a diverse workplace is crucial for creativity and can significantly boost businesses’ bottom line. It is essential for businesses that want to stay relevant to their customers, and remain competitive in the talent market.

The importance of living your truth

From a personal perspective, however, I understand that it can feel daunting to be “out at work”. While I now identify publicly in business as a lesbian or gay woman, it wasn’t always this way. For a time I hid my truth at work, worrying that coming out would affect my working relationships, leave people giggling behind my back or even hinder my chance of promotion.

I would go to lengths to evade questions about my personal life, giving vague answers to colleagues’ questions about how I spent my weekend, or who I was going on holiday with. I’d spend sleepless nights worrying that people were talking about me, or that they might have guessed that I was gay, and think differently about me because of it.

Everyone in the LGBT+ community has had a different experience of coming out, at work or otherwise, but for me, opening up about my sexuality was liberating. I no longer felt stressed about answering questions about my life outside of work, I could just be myself. Representation is key to effecting true change, and by being open about my sexuality in the workplace, I hope to play a part in helping others know they can be open too, without negative consequence, and experience a supportive and accepting environment. 

Why it’s critical for organisations to foster an inclusive culture

It’s crucial that people in their early careers have role models they can relate and look up to, no matter how they identify. Talent comes from all walks of life and it’s critical that organisations are reflective of society at large. Fostering a culture that prioritises people and that doesn’t give a colleague’s sexuality a second thought, can help organisations unlock the value of transformation, unlock hidden opportunities, and generate new value. 

It is so important for corporations to put in place a strategy to advance ID&E. At Kyndryl, we have introduced Kyndryl Inclusion Networks for LGBTQ+ employees – promoting the advancement of equality and creating an inclusive journey to leadership for all employees as a top priority. These networks are essential for companies to create, as they work to continue the advancement of respective communities by focusing on recruitment, retention, advancement, and allyship.

They also ensure every voice is heard within a corporation and a diverse group of people and opinions are seen and upheld. When it comes to driving equality, I think many organisations could benefit from looking through a refreshed lens and adopting these measures.

About Fiona Lush

Fiona Lush is a Portfolio Lead at Kyndryl with extensive experience in IT, cloud and telecoms technology. Fiona started out her career as an Engineer, where she honed her analytical, methodical and problem-solving skills before moving into a managerial position. In her current role as Portfolio Lead, Fiona is responsible for product ideation, development, launch and lifecycle management. She is passionate about driving ideas and innovation through to actualisation to deliver the best possible outcome for customers.

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