At Broadgate, part of Trinnovo Group, we have been shining a spotlight on the inspirational LGBTQIA+ leaders in our community, highlighting their thoughts on the importance of Pride, what it means to them and how we can do more to empower this community in the workplace.
We have been sharing some of their impactful answers on our social channels throughout June, but want to take the message beyond simply highlighting the importance of Pride, but also share the stories and sharing the insights of our network of inspirational leaders, enabling our community to learn how we can do more to act as allies and advocates for our LGBTQIA+ community.
Jen Olmsted Co-Founded CyTrex Cyber with their business partner Twilla Case and is the Chief Business Officer working in the Data Breach Incident Response market. Jen has spent the last 20 years serving clients with complex needs and expectations in the legal community focusing on litigation, investigations, and anti-trust matters. They’re very consultative in their approach, getting to the heart of any problem and creatively offering solutions that their competitors don't. They are a proud member of the LGBT community and strives to support others who require it to gain more visibility. They have worked as the head of LGBT ERG groups and is building diversity initiatives at their current company.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride is an essential part of who I am and what I represent because I live authentically despite daily adversity. It has always been a time for me to celebrate how far we have come and the work we need to continue to effect change. I am proud to know that I have been part of a movement that continues to make the younger generations' life more manageable than mine was. I have supported and worked with organizations like NCLR and Lambda Legal, supporting our effort to help those that may need it. I worked as the Head of the LGBT ERG for Navigant Consulting as the poster child, and I was proud to be that despite there only being about 5% of LGBT people in my industry. I continue to create awareness in an industry comprised of white men so that my visibility and confidence in my journey can help affect someone else to know they are not alone.
How can colleagues be allies in the workplace?
People who want to be viewed as allies are vocal about it and participate in programs to support the LGBTQ+ community. Supporters are active in supporting LGBTQ+ rights. You're not an ally because you are straight and have one gay friend. That means you're not prejudiced. Being vocal and letting people know what it means to be an ally will help people recognize they need to take action, not just speak words. I am always willing to help educate people in this area because we need more allies. I am not shy about using my voice, even if there is a risk. More people need to learn to understand, and anyone brave enough to ask me questions will be met with honesty, not offence. I wish more people followed that belief.
What can businesses do to empower the LGBTQIA+ community?
Businesses that hire people who are LGBT+ not just to fill their diversity quota are approaching diversity in a very positive way. Many companies know their clients are demanding solid diversity initiatives, so they hire the token LGBT person should get called out more often. That is not supporting the community but manipulating the system to build revenue. Building a culture that is supportive of people who are LGBT means providing them the same support their peers receive. Supporting the LGBT community means donating to causes that support the community and investing in getting a solid rating by the GLAAD foundation. Anything that is not inclusive can provide someone who is LGBT with an unsafe environment and not protect them from the ignorance that that individual often feels.
Leslie Feinstein, the author of stone butch blues, is my role model and paved the way for people like me to hear the voice of a butch woman who risked her safety to be heard and seen when it was unsafe to be a butch woman. I read her book and felt like I finally understood who I was. I always acknowledged what she did to make my life easier. I try to do the same thing for the younger generation so I can also be a role model for anyone who feels alone. I don't see many women who look like me and came out when it was also not safe, but if I can make one person's life easier because I hold my own, then it's worth it. I don't need recognition for it; I see a distinct difference in how LGBT kids are seen versus what I had to face. I'm proud that I helped create that.
Advice to younger self
I wish I could go back to the 19-year-old that was coming out for the first time, riddled with fear about the discrimination and looks of disgust I was about to face, and say, you're stronger than you think, and you'll lose many years waiting until your 32 to be yourself. Be loud and proud of who you are, and people who may have felt negatively toward the LGBT community will respect you because you faced adversity fearlessly. You will be successful despite the change you're about to make, and yes, you will work so much harder to be taken seriously, but you'll run circles around your peers because you weren't afraid; you never complained and faced your fear head-on. Be proud of what you're about to take on and recognize it takes a lot of courage that people will never see because you'll make it look easy. No one needs to know your path was more challenging. They'll see because your wins will be far more significant than theirs. You're going to kill. Just stop doubting yourself.
At Trinnovo Group as part of our Pride campaign, we are raising money for Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), a non-profit member-driven organisation that was founded in 2006. TENI has a vision for a world where all people, regardless of gender identity or expression, enjoy full acceptance, equality and human rights.
Please feel free to donate to the cause here.