Pride: from celebration to inclusion
Being proud of who you are is a wonderful feeling. But what if you had to constantly hide who you are out of fear? Éirénne Carroll tells us her story and what we can do to make the workplace more inclusive.
It’s officially Pride month, and with it, there are many ways to celebrate and show joy. But what if Pride isn’t a time of celebration for many? How do we move beyond celebration to inclusivity? I had the pleasure of sharing some of my story with members of Chartered Accountants Ireland at its virtual Pride seminar. I highlighted how my story shows the pitfalls of living visibly out, some of the barriers that still harm trans people in the workplace, and how allies and other LGBT people helped me feel safe at work and re-find my joy in Pride.
I initially came out at work to a supportive community in a corporate marketing department in the south of the United States during the era of HB2, also known as the “Bathroom Bill”, in 2016. During that time, the friction caused by the presidential elections impacted my work, my life, and my ability to celebrate Pride. My identity was a hot button issue for me. And even now, six and half years later, my right to be visible at work, home, and in public is still debated on radio shows, in print, and in homes every day.
For me, coming out was a potentially career-ending act, so it was difficult to see where Pride fit in. And that truth isn’t lost on other trans people at work, whether internationally or here in Ireland. According to Transgender Equality Network Ireland’s (TENI) research in Speaking from the Margins, 49% of all trans people in the country are either unemployed or underemployed. Getting your foot in the door as a trans person, or retaining your position when you come out, is a very tenuous struggle – even in an era when more and more organisations are building robust diversity, equity, and inclusion departments to support their businesses and staff.
In my coming out story, I was able to find allies and to find my voice at work. I was lucky enough at the time to have a team that understood and supported me. Having allies that are willing to take the heat with you are so valuable. Having people you can depend on is imperative. And working in a place where you feel safe to be who are you is crucial.
I’ve been out at work for six years, and I can say I now enjoy Pride. I thoroughly enjoy where the road has led me, and I have enjoyed the people I have met and worked with. I believe our society, and our businesses, are always better with more diversity and inclusivity that allows people to be who they are.
Éirénne Carroll is the Director of Communications & Marketing at Equality North Carolina.
This article was first published by Chartered Accountants Ireland. It is available at the following URL: https://www.charteredaccountants.ie/Accountancy-Ireland/Articles2/News/Latest-News/pride-from-celebration-to-inclusion