How Schneider Electric Empowered Me to Be My Authentic Self Professionally and Personally
I grew up and went to college in a very conservative part of the country. At that time in my life I was purely focused on getting good grades and pursuing a career that would bring me fulfillment. Also, hopefully a lot of money because life isn’t cheap! (Thanks, Friends for skewing my ideas on how much a carefree New York lifestyle cost….)
During this time, I didn’t make time for that other part of me. The part that felt different, out of place and hungering for affection. Put simply: I was just really lonely. I’m a social person so it was easy to focus my energy on my relationships with friends and family. Really anything I could do to occupy myself, so I didn’t have to face the fact that I was holding back an important piece of myself.
I rarely shied away from a challenge even as a kid. However, I wasn’t yet ready to take on this challenge – especially during the ‘90s when LGBT+ representation was only portrayed as exaggerated stereotypes in media. It would be a long time (not until I was 24 years old) before I felt comfortable coming out to my toughest critic, myself.
Reflecting back, I have grown so much professionally and personally since starting at Schneider Electric over 5 years ago. When I started at Schneider in West Kingston, Rhode Island, I was excited for all the potential possibilities for professional growth. True to my nature at the time as a goal-oriented fresh college grad, I ignored anything to do with my personal life. My goal was to climb the corporate later quickly and nothing was going to stop me, especially my sexual orientation.
Almost immediately after joining Schneider, I was confronted with a huge cultural shift compared to where I had just come from. The company culture was much more open and inviting to those who were different. For the first time in my life I felt like I was in a safe place where I could truly be my authentic self. I came out first to myself, which was the hardest person to gain acceptance from, then my closest coworkers who had become like family and then finally everyone back home.