Shortly after I joined the Hitachi Vantara team last year, I noticed a colleague’s rainbow email signature. I immediately felt the importance of celebrating Pride Month at my new company and appreciated its commitment to honoring the diversity of its talented global workforce.
As the executive sponsor of our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), Rainbow Connection, I am proud to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and support the progress being made on building a more equitable future for all. Having had two very close family members struggle with coming out, it has been very gratifying for me personally to be part of a community that is working to make this a non-issue in the workplace.
This Pride Month, we’re spotlighting voices from our ERG members on Pride in the workplace. I hope you find them as insightful and empowering as I did.
Happy Pride Month!
What does celebrating Pride mean for you?
Each of us are unique and Pride can mean so many different things to different people. Everyone’s background, journey and experience really define what this moment of celebrating Pride means. For me, it’s about being proud of who I am and who I have become.
Whether we celebrate our Pride out loud or privately, it’s a moment to reflect on how far we have come as a community and a reminder that there’s still work to be done. Not everyone is at the same place in this journey. Our community still needs visibility, which is why celebrating Pride is still so very relevant today.
What has your experience been coming out in the workplace?
My experience has been two-fold – both positive and with some learnings. As a gay man, I feel very accepted for who I am at Hitachi Vantara and for the value I bring to my teams. I have always referred to my spouse as my “husband,” not my “partner,” and honestly have never felt anyone bat an eye lid.
I appreciate the curiosity from allies and those who wish to be allies but may feel they don’t know what or how to say some things. My advice would be to ask the same question you would normally ask of anyone when taking an interest in their lives. Don’t be afraid to engage.
Comments that stereotype generally happen due to a lack of awareness or understanding. This is why I chose to step into a lead role within our ERG group.
How do you think we are #StrongerWithPride?
#StrongerWithPride is a celebration of our strong, diverse talent, making Hitachi Vantara a great place to work – one that is safe, fun, and fair. When we embrace who we are individually, as a team, and a company – we are truly #StrongerWithPride.
As an ally, what does celebrating Pride mean for you?
Pride to me is remembering and celebrating all those who have fought and sacrificed so that the future generations can be openly proud of who they are, wherever they are. Pride means knowing that my son feels safe being who he is in the world. As an ally I want everyone, no matter how they identify, to know I am a safe and accepting person to come to for support.
How do think Hitachi Vantara’s LGBTQ+ ERG, Rainbow Connection, can cultivate a more inclusive workplace?
Being at a company that provides resources and is very open to inclusivity has been a great first step.
The Rainbow Connection’s leadership team represents support from across our various regions, which provides us with the ability to have better insight into different cultures and issues the LGBTQ+ community faces in those locations. Our goal is to cultivate an environment that feels safe and accepted if you identify as LBGTQ+ while providing education and resources for friends and allies.
One of the most common questions we get asked (including my outside-of-work advocacy groups too), is what different gender expressions mean (i.e.: trans, bi, pan, asexual, etc.). Remember, it’s OK to not understand everything related to LBGTQ+ issues. The desire to learn and better understand is where you can start.
What advice would you give to those who want to become stronger LGBTQ+ allies?
Anyone can be an ally; you don’t have to be LBGTQ+ or even know someone personally. Being an ally means standing up to homophobia and standing up for the community. The best ways to be an ally is to stay informed and educate yourself on LBGTQ+ issues and to speak up when you hear misinformation or stereotypes. There are so many resources available online. Find a local group or organization to get involved with or donate to. There are many small, local organizations all over the world that can use help, especially monetarily.
My favorite small gesture you can do to make your LBGTQ+ friends and neighbors feel welcome? Fly a rainbow flag, even a little one on your front porch, window or balcony can show a person struggling with their identify that there are people that care and accept them for who they are, even if they are strangers.
What does celebrating Pride mean for you?
Celebrating Pride doesn’t just mean that I am a member of an incredible community, but that I can also be there to support my community – whether I am donating my time or money to charities or supporting new LGBTQ+ individuals or allies by simply answering questions. It also means continuing the efforts of those who have fought for our rights to live openly and without prejudice throughout the world.
What would you want an LGBTQ+ candidate to know about working at Hitachi Vantara?
Hitachi is a great company to work for. While the journey towards diversity and inclusion is still progressing, I think it’s making great strides in this area. This is the first company I have worked for that made me feel comfortable with being openly queer and non-binary. That in and of itself says a lot. I’m proud to be part of that effort.
How do you think businesses can actively cultivate more inclusive environments?
Like many things, it’s a circle. When Hitachi Vantara creates opportunities of diversity and inclusion, they are improving the lives of their employees. Those employees are then better able to serve and improve their communities, which ultimately helps to improve society for all.
What’s next for the Rainbow Connection?
We have a lot of exciting things planned for the Rainbow Connection, including providing a supportive network for our LGBTQ+ employees, scheduling virtual happy hours with our teams across the regions on a regular basis, hosting events that generate awareness, and working with local charities where we live and work.
Rainbow Connection’s mission is to celebrate the vibrant community of LGBTQ+ employees and their allies at Hitachi Vantara and champion creating a more inclusive workplace through education, communication and mentorship.
Jeb Horton is Senior Vice President of Services at Hitachi Vantara.