Donnie Schumann, Head of Partnerships at Flockjay and proud member of our internal Flockgay community, took a moment to reflect on a question we'd like to extend to the tech industry:
How has your relationship with LGBTQIA+ pride at work evolved over the years?
My journey to self-acceptance and Pride in the workplace took me longer than I would have liked. I remember when starting out in the corporate world during business school, I was terrified to be my true authentic self. Constantly worried that if I were “outed," being gay it would be a barrier to securing new clients or even progressing up the ladder in my sales career. It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco and began working in tech that I saw brave LGBTQIA+ leaders at startup unicorns and Silicon Valley giants alike. With it came a sudden realization that if they could excel without having to conceal their identities, then why should I hide in the shadows?I can confidently say that embracing Pride in my identity as a gay man in the workplace over the years has contributed to the vast majority of my professional successes and career milestones thus far. I was lucky enough early in my career to have an incredible work family and supportive leadership that made my coming out at work a non-issue.As a result, being authentic allowed me to build more genuine relationships with both colleagues and clients alike. I learned to lead from a position of empathy when moving into management and focus on amplifying the quieter, less confident voices on my team. Not to mention gaining the confidence that comes with shaking the weight of judgement from others, which propelled me to speak on stage at conferences with audiences in the thousands. But perhaps best of all, I realized that if any client along the way didn’t want to work with me because of my identity as a gay man, it was a client who probably wasn’t best to work with at all.
Because of this lived experience, I now relish the opportunity to celebrate Pride in the workplace and feel so grateful to be with Flockjay where inclusion and celebrating diversity is core to our mission.
I hope that by being visible in the workplace lets other LGBTQIA+ folks out there know that living your truth is not a limitation to your potential and embracing your identity can be the catalyst to your professional success! Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.