In honor of Pride Month, UKG chatted with members of our PRIDE employee resource group (ERG) to learn more about their experiences as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. These three U Krewers share their stories of allyship, representation, and understanding, as well as the challenges they’ve faced.
PRIDE is dedicated to celebrating our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, non-binary, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) employees at UKG. PRIDE aims to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment where U Krewers feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work each day.
Emily H. (she/her or they/them), Lead Software Developer
What challenges do transgender individuals face in the workplace?For transgender folk like me, it’s important to be able to be my authentic self at work because it prevents us from needing to live a double life. One where we present as one gender at work, yet sometimes live the rest of our day as another. Being my authentic self at work also helps create visibility and representation in the workplace. This helps other transgender folks feel less alone and helps dispel negative stereotypes perpetuated by media.
What do you wish more people realized or knew about the LGBTQIA+ community? I wish more people knew that this isn’t some new trend—that queer and transgender people have been around since before recorded history.
I wish more people knew that this isn’t some new trend—that queer and transgender people have been around since before recorded history.
Tell us about someone who has shown up as an ally in your life. My best friend—at the time, my tech recruiter—figured out on her own that I was going to start transitioning. She didn’t make a big thing about it but started offering bits of advice here and there on things like hair and skin care. Over the summer, she invited me over for a weekend and had me go to her hair stylist to fix my damaged hair. We ended up really connecting that weekend and stayed up all night talking. When she found out about my plans to socially transition, she jumped at the opportunity to support me every step of the way.
Why is representation in the workplace and beyond so important? You can’t be yourself if you can’t see yourself. Without representation, it’s difficult for many people to see themselves as queer or trans. This was the case for me. I didn’t find myself until I finally saw some real representation—transgender folk living successful and full lives, who were so vibrant and happy in a way that I could only dream of. This is the same for many folks under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella—seeing that representation can really help us find ourselves.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their LGBTQIA+ identity in the workplace? Find support from other people in your community in the workplace. To quote Lani Kaʻahumanu, “We are everywhere.” Together we’re stronger, and I’ll say from experience that the feeling of safety and solidarity from those within our own community is palpable.
Rachelle C. (she/her), Lead Enablement Manager
Why is it so important to be able to be your authentic self at work? When trying to hide yourself, or a part of yourself, you are spending energy on that every workday. It’s exhausting and that energy is not going to your role, your teammates, or your organization. Being your authentic self at work means you bring your open, honest, full self, and all your ingenuity, creativity, personality, and energy, which not only enables you to thrive, it helps your employer thrive! Being able to be myself at work means my unique perspective is part of the mix, my ideas flow from who I am and all the experience I’ve garnered over the years, and I know I’m free to share all of that with UKG!
What do you wish more people realized or knew about the LGBTQIA+ community? I wish more people were aware of how vast and diverse the LGBTQIA+ community is; we are truly intersectional! I also wish more were aware how loving, kind, giving, and generous the community is. Of course, there are outliers in any community, but in my experience over the last 30+ years being in this community, the outliers are few and far between. I’ve met wonderful, genuine, amazing people along my journey! I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made, whether they’re an active part of my life or not, their impact is still with me.
Being your authentic self at work means you bring your open, honest, full self, and all your ingenuity, creativity, personality, and energy.
What do you appreciate most about UKG’s DEI&B initiatives and why? I appreciate the unwavering support that UKG offers to the LGBTQIA+ employees and our families. I love that UKG is committed to building a culture of trust, care, and respect for ALL employees and that they are open about seeking to learn and understand all the perspectives and facets of the community. I am truly grateful for the Executive Sponsor program as we have a stellar Executive Sponsor, Melissa Shore. She’s an epic ally and tireless in her support!
Tell us about someone who has shown up as an ally in your life. I came out as a lesbian to my mother when I was 22 (later came out all over again as Bi+, but that’s a story for another time). Unfortunately, her response was to disown me. However, my high school best friend’s mother was still a huge part of my life and stepped in as that mother figure. More than 30 years later she’s still my “heart mom.” I don’t know where I’d be today if not for her absolute, unconditional, and unwavering love and support. There is no truer or stronger ally in my mind or in my heart.
Why is representation in the workplace and beyond so important? It’s critical that we have out and open representation in the workplace to role model, educate, and help create an inclusive atmosphere. It’s also critical for those who are LGBTQIA+ in the more senior levels to show you can achieve success and promotions while being your authentic self and because of being your authentic self!
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their LGBTQIA+ identity in the workplace? If you work at UKG, I’d suggest joining PRIDE; if not, join an ERG at your own organization. Find your tribe, reach out for support from those who have been through the struggle, and come out the other side. Everyone’s story is different, but together we support each other, share our perspectives, and listen with open hearts and minds. Together we are stronger.
Brianna S. (she/her), Sr. Learning Experience Designer
Why is it so important to be able to be your authentic self at work? It’s important for me to be my authentic self in all aspects of my life, which includes work. It’s not a good feeling to have to hide yourself at work. Many people in the LGBTQIA+ community fear retribution or not being accepted. We spend much of our life working where we engage with coworkers and customers, and nobody should feel unwelcome. Now that I work for a company that encourages us to show up as our authentic selves, I would never work for a company that doesn’t. I feel safe at work, which is huge.
What do you wish more people realized or knew about the LGBTQIA+ community? I wish more people understood that as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, our identities are multi-faceted and complex. Sexuality and gender identity are a part of you, just like your personality. LGBTQIA+ people are more than their sexualities or gender identities. It is a part of them, but it is not all of them. I know I am much more than just a bisexual woman. I am a daughter, sister, girlfriend, dog mom, aunt, activist, writer, and plant addict who has ADHD. I have always been loud, passionate, and independent. Being a cisgender woman is who I am at my core, and I cannot change it. I experienced my first crush on a boy when I was 6 and my first crush on a girl when I was 7. Just like my ADHD, my sexuality and gender identity have always been there; they’re a part of me I cannot change.
LGBTQIA+ people are more than their sexualities or gender identities. It is a part of them, but it is not all of them.
What do you appreciate most about UKG’s DEI&B initiatives and why? I appreciate the energy and focus UKG is putting into DEI&B. UKG is the first company I have worked at where I can say without a doubt that I show up to work every day feeling safe and authentic to myself. The ERGs give us a safe space to communicate about issues that matter to us. UKG encourages us to educate ourselves and each other which in turn fosters and grows an inclusive environment. It makes you feel cared about as an individual.
Tell us about someone who has shown up as an ally in your life or ways you’ve shown up as an ally for someone else. My closest friends have all been great allies and have never questioned my sexuality. They always knew I was bi, and that was accepted without explanation. I’ve been very lucky in that regard. One of my closest friends who I have known since high school is gay. I always knew he was but let him tell me when he was ready. I am very thankful for the people in my life.
Why is representation in the workplace and beyond so important? What heterosexual people may not realize is that they have the privilege of not having to declare their sexuality. They have the privilege of just existing in their relationship. Non-heterosexual people must keep coming out for the rest of their life. Working in a safe and inclusive environment means we can just exist as we are. Many in the LGBTQIA+ community have experienced workplace discrimination based on their sexuality, their gender identity, or both. Imagine going to work and having to hide your personal life—not even able to talk about who your partner is. It’s important to not only ban discrimination but to also foster growth and acceptance.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with their LGBTQIA+ identity in the workplace? If that person is another U Krewer then my advice is to join the Pride ERG! There are many opportunities to connect with other U Krewers in Pride. If that person is not a U Krewer, then I would tell them that it gets better. Confide in a friend or trusted coworker. If the issue is the lack of DEI&B at your company, bring it up to management or HR. Maybe your company wants to be better about DEI&B and needs a push in the right direction. If it seems as though inclusivity is unattainable then it might be time to get a job with a company that values diversity and inclusion. I know that’s easier said than done, but it doesn’t hurt to look because your happiness is worth it.