She feared her socially conservative coworkers wouldn’t accept the person she loved, and so she went to elaborate lengths to obscure her identity as a lesbian.
“It’s hard to describe what that life feels like, but sometimes I ask people to imagine themselves changing pronouns during casual conversations about what they did over the weekend. When coworkers share family photos, I shied away. Every time I met clients or new hires, I policed every interaction to avoid divulging too much about my personal life. And imagine doing all of this just to keep a job, not lose a client, not cost the company money, and not become ostracized. None of us can show up as our full selves at work if we hide our identity so completely and the entire effort wears all of us down.”
As she built more financial security, Brittainy left that job and decided over time that she would be open about her life. Today, as a leader at RGA, she works hard to give coworkers license to come to work as their full selves.
“I came to identify what was important and what I was willing to tolerate and not tolerate. And I think at the same time, I found that RGA is a place where there is a very inclusive culture, where I felt safe.”
“One of the most important things that I can do as a leader is demonstrate support every day, to just say, ‘OK, we are all different in some ways, but we’re also people who have families, who have struggles that are all the same. More unites us than divides us. We can create a climate of acceptance – spaces for people to learn from each other, to share their stories freely.”