Having a role model to look up to can motivate a person much better. More so for LGBTQ+ employees who can look up to leaders who have blazed new paths for their community. Knowing that someone can do what you want to do can push you to work harder and pursue opportunities that open up for you.
This Pride Month, let’s encourage one another in supporting LGBTQ+ leaders who made significant changes in their workplace. There is a lot to learn from their contributions.
Underrepresentation of LGBTQ+ Leaders and Stress at Work
LGBTQ+ employees need someone to look up to, but there’s a scarcity of representation in managerial and C-Suite positions at work. Based on a study by McKinsey, there is only 1.6 percent of LGBTQ+ women managers in offices, while men are only at 2.8 percent. LGBTQ+ women only take up 0.6 percent of the C-Suite, while men take up 2.9 percent. ¹
This means that LGBTQ+ employees may feel isolated at work due to underrepresentation because they will be representing themselves during office gatherings. They will think they’ll only be speaking for themselves, given the chance to share their ideas.
McKinsey’s research claims that feeling alone regarding one’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or race in a team can increase a person’s stress and affect one’s mental health. This is because being alone can put more pressure on an individual to perform more.
Leaders to Take Pride In
If you’re looking for people to admire and inspire you, you can look beyond your office walls and find them elsewhere. There are people like you who are working hard for their loved ones and to represent the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some of them in the fields of Marketing, Staffing, Human Resources, as well as in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
Vice President – Strategic Change, ELECTROCOMPONENTS PLC
Hamilton is an advocate for transgender acceptance and inclusion and has delivered inclusion training for the business and provided a supportive environment for her trans teammates. She has helped improve awareness in the workplace to enhance the services and partnerships with trans customers and suppliers.
She has also helped with policy revision and creation for transitioning in the workplace and having dignity at work. She has also helped secure Trans-related healthcare for people, to be added to the company’s health policies.
She has helped improve the place of LGBTQ+ people, women, and individuals with disabilities in predominantly-male sectors by initiating talks with global organizations in the field of electronics and distribution. ²
Vice President of Human Resources, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin
Steve Lange helps develop and execute talent management strategies as the vice president of human resources at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. His job covers attracting, hiring, and retaining employees. He provides counseling to supervisors related to employee relations issues and development and coaching.
The food bank, with his help, has opened over 400 food pantries and meal programs and built hunger relief organizations. It has served more than 400,000 individuals in eastern Wisconsin.
Lange helped develop the DEI program of Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and he currently monitors these efforts within the hiring and promotion processes.
Find inclusive employers who can help you pursue the advocacies that matter to you. Steve Lange has helped people from starving and you can start similar efforts with an employer who shares your values. ³
Adrien Gaubert is a co-founder of myGwork, a business community for people who believe in equality in the workplace. Its members include LGBTQ+ professionals, students, and inclusive employers. He is also a member of the Forbes Council and a contributor to the Huffington Post.
He is passionate about DEI, human rights, and social justice. He expresses these by helping employers showcase their LGBTQ+-friendly initiatives and hire candidates who are part of the community.
His awards and recognition include being a co-recipient of the Attitude Magazine 2015 Award Young LGBT Entrepreneur of the Year for myGwork. He ranked number 38 on the 2016 FT’s list of Future LGBT Leaders.
Get in touch with inclusive staffing firms and business communities, such as myGwork, to find the best employer for LGBTQ+ individuals. These organizations may even help you upskill in your chosen career path by providing resources and connections. ⁴
Senior Director of Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging, and Strategy, GitHub
Cheatham was raised by her single mom in a rural area with no internet access. Although she majored in computer science at a minority-serving institution, she never had access to a computer until she was accepted into the program.
Knowing what it’s like to be overlooked, Cheatham has been working to expand diversity in the tech industry, focusing on open-source coding and data. Cheatham contributed to creating the program All In for Students, which provides training, mentorship, and internship in coding to individuals who are enrolled in historically Black educational institutions.
Under the All In for Students program, students complete open-source coding training in 10 weeks. GitHub, a creator of software-development tools, places the enrollees in summer internships within the company or at others. Other companies include Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, and Fidelity.
To prevent harassment from happening, Cheatham also gathered data and developed materials to help educate people on how to prevent harassment that occurs at computer-science conferences. ⁵
Cheatham’s work will further help open opportunities for students who have experienced being overlooked and isolated. People of color can find work in their desired areas of the tech industries and hopefully provide bright solutions that were once unheard of.
Former Marketing Lead, CareerCake
Heskins’ time at CareerCake has helped build, grow, and market the brand while prioritizing customer experience. She played a key part in the rebranding of the company, including improving the business model to an “all-you-can-eat” subscription. While at it, she helped the underrepresented and those looking for a source of confidence to feel amazing at their work.
As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, she is also an ally to trans individuals. She works to make sure that their voices are heard in the stories and content CareerCake produces for their subscribers and audience.
Heskins is now working as the Startup Marketing Advisor and Director of Oh Blimey, a resource for first-time SaaS marketers and startup founders who are looking to grow their ideas into profit. Oh Blimey’s services include startup consultancy, go-to-market advisory, and product marketing. ⁶
Former Senior Marketing Manager, WeVideo
According to his previous team at WeVideo, Jason exhibited empathy for their customers and always placed himself in their shoes. He has crafted wonderful messaging that had always resonated with the customers. He was a team player and always kept the sales team aware of campaigns that needed attention.
Sholl was the 2018 winner of the 40 Under 40 Award from the Silicon Valley Business Journal and has received 15 Telly Awards in his career as a marketing leader.
At the Silicon Valley Capital Club, Sholl is the co-chair of the LGBTQ Society. He is a champion for Silicon Valley Pride as it educates the community through videos, live events, and fundraisings. He regularly volunteers at the Billy DeFrank LGBTQ Center. Sholl has also co-sponsored, with Silicon Valley Pride and the Capital Club, a Black LGBTQ+ Virtual Panel Discussion.
He now works as the Executive Producer and Director at Sholl Media Group, where he has produced and directed over 300 episodes of YouTube talk shows and sports podcasts.
Your story is worth admiring.
This Pride Month, take this time to celebrate the highlights of these and other LGBTQ+ people. Their unique stories have contributed to the successes of the companies and industries they belong to. Help them climb their career ladders by giving them support at work and helping their voices become louder and their experiences be heard.
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1 “How the LGBTQ+ Community Fares in the Workplace.” McKinsey, 23 Jun. 2020, www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/how-the-lgbtq-plus-community-fares-in-the-workplace.
2 “2021 Top 100 LGBTQ+ Executives.” Outstanding, www.outstanding.involverolemodels.org/poll/2021-top-100-lgbt-executives/.
3 “Notable LGBTQ Executives.” BizTimes, www.biztimes.com/category/notables/notable-lgbtq-executives/.
4 “Adrien Gaubert.” Forbes, www.councils.forbes.com/profile/Adrien-Gaubert-Co-founder-CMO-MyGWork/f1def2dc-40b2-40fe-afce-fbfdb918e8c0.
5 Ward, Marguerite. “14 Business Leaders Making Corporate America More Inclusive in an Increasingly Polarized Society.” Insider, 29 Dec. 2022, www.businessinsider.com/top-diversity-trailblazers-making-american-companies-more-inclusive-2022-12#demetris-cheatham-senior-director-of-diversity-inclusion-belonging-and-strategy-at-github-3.
6 “These LGBTQIA+ Sales & Marketing Pros Are Making a Difference in Their Professional Fields & Communities.” Drift, 30 Jun. 2020, www.drift.com/blog/lgbtqia-sales-marketing-leaders/.