This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising that paved the way for Pride as we know it today. As a member of the LGBT+ community, my heart swells with mixed emotions as I reflect on my journey, the journeys of others, the progress that we’ve made as a community, and the challenges that still lie ahead.
Last week, leading up to the 50th Pride, my colleagues and I presented a short history of Pride and shared our personal stories at a company-wide lunch. We shared how being gay used to be illegal, the events surrounding the uprising at Stonewall Inn in 1969, the first Pride parade one year later in 1970, how the rainbow flag was born in 1978, how the NYPD apologized earlier this year for their behavior in 1969, why this year’s 50th anniversary of Pride is so special — and why the ability to be yourself and do your best work at Highspot is so great.
Being “out” at work and being able to do your best work as your full self is, sadly, still a luxury. 46% of LGBT+ workers aren’t out at work — and I used to be one of them. In previous positions, I feared being denied promotions or even terminated for this one aspect of my identity, which had no relation to my performance or work. My partner never attended work functions, my responses to, “What did you do this weekend?” were always amended, and nobody aside from a select few knew I was a member of the LGBT+ community.
Then I reached a turning point. I realized no one should ever have to choose between a career they love and living their lives with authenticity and integrity. I promised myself I would only work in an environment where I could be my full self.
When I began evaluating new opportunities, a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion became table stakes. And equally important was a company’s ability to demonstrate their commitment with not just words, but actions. I found this at Highspot — and I couldn’t be happier. From how my coworkers have embraced and supported our Pride initiatives, to sponsoring events promoting closing the gender gap in tech, Highspot is investing wisely and inventing a future where everyone feels safe, supported, and free to be themselves. The best part about our initiatives is that many are homegrown from our own employees and fully embraced by our leadership. And we’re just getting started.
At Highspot, we believe innovation happens when different perspectives come together to solve big problems. This can only happen in safe space built on respect and one that embraces uniqueness. We believe diverse backgrounds enrich our experience and our work. We all play a role in achieving our vision and building a culture that puts people first. Our culture that celebrates individuality is why we’re widely recognized as one of the best places to work. We’re each unique and we each inspire each other to be our best. That’s what makes us Highspot.
While most of us agree intuitively that diversity matters, there are mounting studies that quantify diverse companies outperform their peers. McKinsey noted in their 2018 diversity study that companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. The report also notes that, “More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing return.”
But diversity goes beyond corporate benefits. As human beings, we have a right to hold our own beliefs. A right to express ourselves freely. And a right to be true to ourselves. I’m proud to work at a company that not only understands this, but embraces it. So, if you’re thinking about joining Highspot, whoever you are, know that you can be your true self here.
Justin Topliff is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Highspot. He has helped start or scale the product marketing function at expansion and growth-stage companies in New York, Phoenix, and Seattle. In his spare time, you can find him working toward his pilot’s license and sommelier certification or helping product marketers launch their careers at www.productmarketingsummit.com.