I didn’t really reflect much about this until recently when I came across an article in Les Echos, featuring statistics from a survey by Autre Cercle, a French association advocating for LGBTQ+ inclusion at work.
The findings were startling: a significant majority of the LGBTQ+ respondents in France, a relatively progressive society for LGBTQ+ people, actively concealed their personal relationships in the workplace:
- seven out of 10 LGBTQ+ employees in a relationship voluntarily omit the gender of their partner in the workplace,
- 60% of LGBTQ+ people are not out with their managers. 83% do so to preserve their career progression, and two-thirds do so to ensure their well-being at work.
As my personal life evolved, coming out to loved ones, moving in with my first boyfriend, participating in annual Pride events in Paris, and engaging with LGBTQ+ associations, I found the disparity between my personal and professional selves increasingly hard to deal with. I frequently skipped social situations that might lead to casual questions about my personal life, such as team lunches or post-work gatherings. Looking back, my colleagues likely misunderstood my reticence as introversion, or perhaps shyness. I believe it hindered my ability to form meaningful connections and establish a professional network.
When I decided to change jobs a couple of years ago, I found Mambu, a company that aligned with my technical aspirations as a cloud, SaaS and API-first technology provider. I was also determined to avoid a company with a "don't ask, don't tell" culture - trying to pretend to be someone else is an unnecessary distraction in the workplace. Seeing Mambu's diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI) pledge, which explicitly embraced the LGBTQ+ community, was a deciding factor.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Mambu living up to its DEI commitments. Witnessing one of the new C-level executives casually introduce his husband during those corporate townhall “about me” presentations was a revelation. It made me reflect on why I had felt such fear about being open about my identity all those years. It wasn't that my previous workplace experiences were necessarily homophobic; rather, not encountering openly LGBTQ+ or ally role models in positions of leadership made it easier to believe that concealing my identity might be better for my career.
At Mambu, we are fortunate to have employee-led initiatives. Several colleagues and I decided to establish an LGBTQ+ network within the company. I am now happy to be proactive about supporting other LGBTQ+ professionals in ways that were not available to me early in my career. One of our first initiatives was to work with the People team to gauge the comfort level of LGBTQ+ employees in openly being themselves in the workplace.
The employee pulse survey results revealed that there is still progress to be made within Mambu. They showed that members of the LGBTQ+ community at Mambu had lower scores for openly being themselves at work without fear of judgement from others. This outcome was not surprising to me, given the possible intersectionality of identities, genders, people with disabilities and diverse backgrounds within Mambu, the experience of my LGBTQ+ colleagues isn’t necessarily the same as mine. The good news is that these findings help to drive action and provide the feedback to Mambu to continue with positive changes.
To highlight Pride Month 2023, we will host a global celebration at Mambu, complete with a panel discussion about the importance of being yourself at work. Our aim is not only to be proud at Mambu this month but also to find tangible ways to improve our work environment, as highlighted by the recent pulse survey.