I knew I was gay since I was quite young, and I’ve always noticed boys rather than girls. It just felt that way to me, probably in the same way heterosexual folks feel attracted to the opposite gender.
In the LGBTQIA+ community, coming out to our close friends or family has always been a huge milestone, and it may be common but being ‘open’ in the workplace is a whole new ball game altogether. For many of us, it takes immense (read IMMENSE) courage to do this. Many of us have been hiding our identity simply because it’s not safe. Some of us were ridiculed in school, we were given hurtful names because we didn’t fit in. When I chose extracurricular activities like drama and choir, I was not popular and certainly wasn’t in the ‘in group’ like the athletic boys. It has been a long journey personally to come to a place where I’m comfortable in my own skin and able to share this with you.
Being brave to embrace that #YouAreEnough
I joined the LEGO Group in 2019, around the same time the company introduced the Leadership Playground – an inclusive working philosophy created for everyone in the LEGO® team to feel safe and inspired to be brave, curious and focused. Creating a safe space resonated strongly with me because I knew that this was a prerequisite for us to bring our authentic selves to work without fear of discrimination or judgement.
That’s exactly what my colleagues Patricia, Adeline and I focused on when we started our D&I journey in the Singapore Hub (or SingHub) in 2019: a workspace where everyone can feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work. In June 2020, we ran a campaign named #ItsOk with the objective to build an environment of inclusion. You can be gay or straight, male or female, single or married, whatever Singsters (how we call colleagues based on the SingHub) were going through, whatever their identity was… #ItsOk to simply be who you are. Many colleagues from across the organisation participated in the campaign and sent their messages of love and inclusion which we compiled in a beautiful video.
This year, we wanted to build on that momentum and launched a new campaign: #YouAreEnough. The inspiration for this campaign came when I was in a meeting recently sharing my coming out story with the team. The APAC President was in the meeting hearing my story for the first time, and at the end, he left a comment: ‘You are yourself, Jeremy, and that is enough for us.’ That was such a powerful statement of inclusivity. I couldn’t help but feel so much compassion and empathy coming from that heartfelt statement. We all felt immediately inspired by it.
Finally, I will leave you with a quote that rings so true – ‘We have far more in common than that which divides us.’ Will we find common ground today to build a better tomorrow?
How to start or develop your D&I journey
How can we learn to be inclusive and embrace diversity if we don’t learn to see the world from a lens other than our own? If you have yet to start your journey into D&I, you can always start today! Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
1. Ask, don’t assume. It’s always helpful to ask how our colleagues are doing and how they are coping. If you don’t understand another culture/generation/gender/sexual orientation, reach out, be curious and be sincere. If this person feels safe enough, they will share.
2. Share your story. When we share our authentic stories with an open heart, we open the door for others to share their stories as well. And if someone comes out of the closet to you, please give them a big tight hug for being so very brave. It speaks volumes about the trust in their relationship with you.
3. Finally, be curious! If you would like to find out more about diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace, you may refer to the following website: https://reddotforpinkdot.sg/resources/