When atmospheric conditions are just right, a rainbow appears. Sunlight passes through raindrops; the light bends or refracts as it enters the droplet and then reflects off the inside of the raindrop. Since water is denser than the air, light exiting the raindrop separates into various wavelengths. Each wavelength appears as a different color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Our eye adjusts to see a rainbow.
More years ago than I care to remember, I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in electrical engineering. As a result, I tend to look at many things in life through a technical lens. Although seeing a rainbow is relatively rare, as the calendar advances to June, we began to see rainbows everywhere. There are rainbows in our digital feeds, on food containers at the supermarket, on front porch flags and corporate logos become colorful emblems supporting the LGBTQ+ community.
June is Pride Month.
Like many corporate leaders, I support the LGBTQ+ community. I am thankful for Pride Month. It serves as an opportunity to raise awareness, promote dialogue, and show support for the many issues we face in helping the LGBTQ+ community gain acceptance and equality. However, acceptance and inclusion must extend beyond thirty short calendar days in June. Diversity and inclusion are about authenticity — making a personal commitment to do the right thing, show empathy, treat others the way you would want to be treated, and that extends beyond the confines of a thirty-day calendar.
Recent events throughout the country have prompted many long-overdue discussions. At NTT DATA, we have made LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion a priority. We have policies to promote inclusion and equality as well as employee resource groups to do the same. In fact, we have an employee resource group called PRIDE with a comprehensive charter to:
…create a community of engaged, empowered team members that will support the attraction and retention of LGBTQ+ employees, raise awareness and educate coworkers and leaders about issues impacting LGBTQ+ people and their families to foster improved employee morale and engagement, and promote a safe environment where people are treated equally and embraced as full individuals, not only at work but also at home and in every community, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
But as a leader, I can’t help but ask myself are we doing enough? Are we acting with authenticity? Are our everyday interactions inclusive? According to a study by McKinsey, many LGBTQ+ employees navigate a series of microaggressions, such as hearing disparaging remarks about themselves or people like them. Some LGBTQ+ people face the painful experience of being misgendered or referred to by a pronoun that does not agree with their gender identity.
I encourage my colleagues and team members to demonstrate respect and inclusion by specifying their pronouns. Commit to your colleagues to take this step during Pride Month. Become an ally, educate yourself and others, treat others with respect. Diversity and inclusion are not single-point-in-time events; they must happen over time and evolve. A movement towards change is necessary and raising awareness and taking action are constructive starts.
Like light that refracts and splits, people are often divided into different opinions and backgrounds, but we can come together to form a beautiful rainbow in the right environment.
Post Date: 6/1/2021