I started my corporate career on January 11, 1982, and was thrilled for the opportunity to join a Fortune 500 company as my first employer.
While the company I went to work for was massive with more than 50 thousand employees, I worked in a satellite office in Sugar Land, Texas, outside of Houston.
That first office I worked in had limited diversity; in fact, I was the only male employee at one point in my nearly five years of working in that office. I remember there being less than ten black women and even fewer Hispanic women. Even in my first job, I was keenly aware of diversity.
During the first four months of my employment, I was in a conditional hire period. It meant I could be terminated for any reason, and it was even more severe given I was working in Texas, an at-will state. I had to be on my best behavior in those first four months to keep my job.
When I came out as a gay man one afternoon within the probation period to the receptionist and a small group of colleagues, I lost sight of the risk of losing my job.
Little did I know at the time that the decision that I made to come out would lead to my being out and staying out for my entire 35-year corporate career. I did not have the insight to know that coming out was not a one-and-done thing.
Each time a new company recruited me, I came out, and when I started the new job, I came out to my new colleagues. There was no nd to my coming out as I moved from one company to another or within an organization transferring to a new division.
My coming out brought the need to be out; being out meant things like having a framed photograph of my partner on my desk and me or having him with me at holiday parties and other company functions.
The third and final follow on to coming out for me was staying out. Once I was out in my career and industry, it was not like I could reverse it and put the genie back in the bottle. I stayed out by being a part of employee resource groups and other spaces that gave way to being an ally.
I often reflect on my corporate career in the rearview mirror, and I recently realized that I was BOLD in my decisions to come out, be out, and stay out as a gay man.
Brave: Finding my way to Courageous Confidence took a lot of work on my part, given the potential backlash that could have derailed my career. I relied on my ability to perform and create successful results visible to those leaders who could impact my career development goals.
Optimistic: Looking at life from a positive perspective with high expectations that things would work out in my favor was part of how I got through the times that otherwise would have shattered my dreams of a successful career.
Learner: Seeking out the people and experiences that teach me the most about being a leader and business principles was a top priority for me as a lifelong learner committed to growing my knowledge and skills
Determined: Resolving never to give up was a big part of how I got through some of the most challenging times in my career as a transformational leader who was rarely welcomed warmly into the organizations that needed my unique set of skills to turn them around.
My BOLD acronym is as relevant today as an entrepreneur as when I started my career in 1982. I have found each component of the acronym supportive with each new challenge I have faced as an entrepreneur focused on working in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space. Being a white gay cisgender male has not opened many doors for me to do my unique work with those committed to making significant change.
I remain committed to my principles and values that supported me in coming out, being out, and staying out as a gay man for the entirety of my corporate career. I trust that doors will open for me to do my passionate work in organizations and leaders.
How might you be BOLD with your career decisions that are focused on advancing and achieving your goals?
With much gratitude…