Coming out is a transformative and life-changing event, but the process can be daunting – especially in professional settings. But coming out at work is one of the doors that is very much worth walking through in order to claim your true and authentic self. At AHCS, we are champions of acceptance and inclusion – and we know how important it is to be able to bring your whole self to work every day. As a health care staffing agency, our belief is that empathy is more than just a word – it’s something we put into action every single day, both with our nursing staff and our clients. With intention, we have developed and nurtured a culture of equity and respect.
Today, we’re going to focus on strategies for safely coming out at work.
To start, review your company’s Diversity and Inclusion Statement or Code of Conduct. Do you feel protected and empowered by those words? This is an important step in determining your workplace culture. If a policy exists, consider meeting with an HR rep to get a feel for how resolutely they uphold these guidelines. If no such policy exists and you feel comfortable approaching a superior, management, or HR, it might be time to suggest implementing some guidelines around workplace equity and respect. If this seems like an overwhelming or uncomfortable option, don’t feel like you have to come out at this time. It is a personal decision, and everyone’s on their own timeline.
Take the temperature of your company’s attitude toward LGBTQ+ issues – you can do this safely in general and casual conversations, without revealing personal information before you’re ready. If you feel that the response is positive and accepting, you might be more comfortable organically working into conversation how you identify.
If you know of a co-worker who identifies as LGBTQ+ or is an ally, they could be a trusted resource for you, and provide insight into what you can expect, and from whom.
Prepare for varied reactions when coming out. Understand and accept that it’s possible that not every response will necessarily be positive – and be sure to know your options, should this arise (harassment or discriminatory remarks should always be reported). As well, you might consider having your personal disclosures made by a trusted co-worker or superior if you do not feel comfortable doing so.
At the end of the day, if you don’t feel comfortable coming out at work, that’s okay. You can always reassess at another time, but remember this – your happiness matters. Give yourself the option to look for a place of work that will accept and celebrate you fully. It’s a fact that workplace culture (which tends to be defined by acceptance and inclusion) is a higher indicator of employee happiness than salary. If this resonates with you, give it some serious consideration and know that whatever you decide, this is your life, your journey and your decision. There is no rulebook and you should always do what feels right to you.
On behalf of all of us at Advanced Home Care Solutions, we wish everyone a Happy Pride Month – we see you, and we support you.