Being able to be true to yourself and your identity without fear of discrimination, in any environment, is a human right.
Fortunately, as a woman who identifies as part of the LGBT+ community, I write for HERE Technologies - who acknowledges and actively works to create a discrimination-free workplace.
Our efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Recently, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) named HERE North America and HERE Mexico as two of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality."
In fact, we received a perfect score.
This achievement marks the seventh year for HERE North America, and the first year for HERE Mexico, in earning perfect evaluations on HRC's Corporate Equality Index.
More than just an award, this recognition symbolizes HERE's enduring support, not only of HERE LGBT+ employees, but international LGBT+ communities as well.
HERE we get liberated
For HERE León Mexico employee Michelle Tellez, being herself at work was more than just a relief, it was a surprise: “I accepted myself (barely) in June 2017. I started thinking about… going into hormone replacement therapy... I felt I was going to be fired from work."*
In 2003, Mexico prohibited discrimination against LGBT+ people. In May 2019, their supreme court made it legal for trans people to change their gender on official documents. But despite legislation, intolerance is an ongoing challenge.
Because of this, it wasn't easy for Tellez to face co-workers unfamiliar with the term “transgender" but to her surprise, she was bolstered by colleagues who, “…took my hand and didn't let me fall, they gave all the possible support. They even put in a mixed bathroom so that I had no problems…"*
HERE is committed to creating an inclusive culture and to building, and maintaining, working environments where everyone feels safe. At HERE, everyone is an equal member of the team:
“We are proud that the Human Rights Campaign Foundation continues to recognize HERE Technologies as a great place to work for LGBT+ talent," says HERE CHRO Kelley Steven-Waiss. “At HERE, we take every opportunity to encourage diversity, promote equality and create an environment where all our employees belong and have the opportunity to thrive."
Let's take a look at some of the other ways HERE has contributed to LGBT+ initiatives in 2019.
HERE is committed to creating and sustaining a workplace where everyone feels "free".
Raising the flag
“When I heard that HERE PRIDE was created," expressed Tellez, "I immediately raised my hand to be part of it. Well, many things have happened since that day…"*
In 2019, “HERE Pride" (our global employee LGBT+ resource group) launched with chapters in Berlin, Chicago, León (Mexico) and India. Steered by their initiative, HERE celebrated LGBT+ employees and communities across twelve different countries and participated in official “Pride Week" festivities in twenty cities:
- In Berlin, HERE joined the 2019 “Lesbisch-Schwules Stadtfest", Europe's largest annual Lesbian and Gay Festival
- Supporting the LGBT+ community in Chicago HERE actualized the “Give Back Value" project with the help of donations and volunteers dedicated to assisting The Broadway Youth Centre
- For the first time in HERE history, the León team took part in Mexico City's Gay Pride March. Focused on raising awareness of Mexican LGBT+ experiences HERE distributed flags and created a public exhibition
- In Mumbai, HERE supported their LGBT+ team through the creation of digital engagement experiences that were shared across social media
- HERE joined over 6,000 LGBT+ activists in the "Out&Equal Summit" - for the second year - at the National Harbor in Fort Washington, Md.; the world's largest conference to address issues related to LGBT+ people in the workplace
“Working for HERE, allows you to be true to yourself and not having to hide who you are,” explains HERE Chicago employee David Graham, “I like that HERE's Senior Leadership values the importance of PRIDE Chicago and allows us to share our culture with our colleagues through various volunteer and education events.”*
HERE employees participate in Proud To Run Chicago.
Helping to build stronger workplace connections is a priority; and it begins with ensuring that everyone, feels supported.
Sometimes that includes helping employees, like Tellez, attend their first pride parade:
“…I deeply thank the company for that opportunity… I can simply say it was something magical. The fact that the PRIDE team exists at the León site is very, very important... At HERE they can be themselves even if they can't be that way out there."
HERE advocates for LGBT+ in the Supreme Court
Joining 200 major corporations in signing the “LGBT+ Friend of the Court" petition, HERE backs an initiative that works toward changing outdated legislation.
The document features three cases that could help determine whether LGBT+ people are protected in situations including employment, education and acquiring housing or healthcare.
Current civil rights laws protect men and women but fail to declare whether LGBT+ individuals specifically, are included.
Steven-Waiss adds: "We believe a culture where everyone feels they belong, strengthens our shared commitment, motivation, pride, resilience – and helps drive innovation to create the world we want to live in."
When more than half of LGBT+ Americans live in places where they can be fired, refused training or even harassed at their jobs, and 95% of LGBT+ Mexicans feel discriminated against, ensuring that LGBTQ+ people are represented and supported, in and outside the workplace, remains an critical cause.
HERE León employee Carlos Castro agrees: "Education is a pillar that can help us to properly understand and to generate empathy... Many people are still unaware of the issues that LGBT+ community are facing and the feeling perceived, at least in Guanajuato, México, is that it is better not to know. HERE Pride is open for everyone and it's an opportunity to learn and to be involved with our community."
HERE is dedicated to raising awareness of LGBT+ experience through non-discrimination workplace protections, competency programs and engagement with international LGBT+ initiatives.
We're creating a better future. And we want to do it with you.
*Michelle Tellez, David Graham and Carlos Castro were interviewed via email in January, 2020.