Diversity is top-of-mind at many companies, which is why many executives say it is important to be “out” at work. Jim Fitterling, CEO of Dow Inc., says two things he’s learned over his career are (1) not to let fear prevent you from being yourself at work and (2) to treat all people with respect. “I’d advise any young LGBTQ person to do two things. First, look for a company that mirrors your own beliefs. There are plenty of companies that live their values, that actively support minorities and LGBTQ individuals, and that will support you. Find them. Second, don’t be afraid to live your own life,” he adds. Christopher Bailey, former CEO and chief creative officer of Burberry Group, says that the fashion industry is very accepting, but if you are in a position to foster a good and tolerant culture, do it. “That’s the really hard work-building a good culture-much more so than the day-to-day operations,” he adds. Like others, Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airways Ltd., says he wasn’t really open about his sexuality in the workplace, but he never hid it. He advises LGBTQ employees to “get involved with your business’s LGBTQ network. … It’s vital for us to get together and discuss what we’re doing well, and what we can do to help more people feel that they can be open about their identity.” At Mattel Inc., Senior Vice President Kim Culmone says that her sexuality is “such an important part of the work that I do, because I know what it feels like to be ‘other-ized’ in the world.” She strives to develop toys that are diverse and inclusive, and she adds, “I draw on that experience of feeling different and use it to build even greater empathy for communities that I am not a part of.” Culmone says that LGBTQ job candidates should ask about company culture during the interview process, seek out companies’ stated policies, and really take a look at the type of people who are in leadership and their comfort level within their workspace. Roy Hunt, senior vice president at Gap Inc., came out later in life, and he says after he did, “I became a much better leader and better person, and it just changed everything, quite honestly.” Sander van ‘t Noordende, group chief executive at Accenture Plc’s products operating group, says, “Be out, be visible, network with other peers and people and leaders in your company, and then once you gain more confidence, help progress the agenda for and with the company, and eventually with its clients.”
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