A study conducted in 2018 showed that over 46 percent of LGBT+ employees in the US hide their sexuality at their place of employment. It's such a pleasure to create content and share all of the amazing experiences and stories of the very special people who work here at Cogo. This week, I'm switching gears and telling my own story. In honor of Pride month, I'm sharing my experience of what it's like to be "Out In Tech" and how Cogo supports my intersectionality.
Over the past few years, I’ve developed a passion for surfing, a sport which seems to be analogous with my experience of “coming out”. The process of “coming out” for me has presented itself in many different waves, each one varying in strength, depth, and difficulty. The easiest wave seemed to come first, a small ripple in the endless sea of societal pressure; telling my friends about the different layers of my sexual identity. After that, each following wave has consumed much more mental and physical energy, requiring more strategy and caution. My family (who found out through my transparency on Instagram), values my happiness more than my ability to fit in with the majority of society and has accepted me through every stage of my life. However, it was the third and final wave that was the hardest to catch and has taken even longer to ride; coming out to myself. The hardest challenge I face, daily, is how I present myself to people, whether I’m “too gay” or “not gay enough” or “confused about who I am”. I, much like every other 23-year-old, am still figuring out who I am, and constantly have to reject everyone else’s expectations of who I “should” be.
My sexual identity is a part of me that I’ve hidden for so long; both on paper and in person. While interviewing at Cogo, I felt like I could breathe again. There was no caution in the way I spoke or the clothes I wore to the interview. I felt like I had creative, passionate, thoughtful colleagues lined up at the door of this office from day one. Coming out to your coworkers can inevitably be a painful, awkward process that is challenging to initiate. Not to get all Jack Johnson on you, but I truly was sitting, waiting, and wishing that my colleagues would’ve just asked if I was gay rather than determine the best time and place to somehow “announce” it.
As the Brand Marketing Coordinator here at Cogo, I understand the importance of brand image, identity, and strategy. I’m constantly aware of how others perceive me to be, what image I’m representing and who/what I associate myself with. Our society emphasizes labels, leverages differences for judgment and criticism, and marginalizes people who are different than the majority.
Although my sexuality is a layer of my identity that I don’t heavily embrace, it’s what contributes to my brand, my character, and who I am. If our inclusive, multi-layered brand here at Cogo resonates with even one person, then I’ve done my job. I’ve spent too many years of my life hiding my own identity to camouflage the identity of this incredible, all-encompassing company at 1 Kendall Square. Cogo Labs doesn’t simply hang rainbow flags to mask oppression or march away from their marginalization through yearly pride parades. Cogo cultivates an inclusive culture that never forces me to question my personal brand, interests, or beliefs.
I feel as though I’ve spent so much of my life searching for a relatable LGBT voice in the media. To read a book, watch a movie, or simple google content geared towards my demographic would’ve been life-changing growing up. Although it’s taken so many years and lots of self-reflection, I’m exceptionally grateful to work for a tech company that enables me to be the LGBT voice that I desperately needed 10 years ago. Cogo supports, empowers and respects my identity and all of the layers that come with it. I have the most compassionate manager (Senior HR Business Partner, Kelly McDonald) who is consistently pioneering workplace equality initiatives, an incredibly supportive team (Talent & Culture at Cogo), and a CEO (Mira Wilzcek) that challenges the tech stereotype and fights for equality in the workplace.
While I do think our society has a long way to go in reaching equality, Cogo Labs is a safe, supportive, and encouraging environment that only reflects the most progressive workplace atmosphere.
If sexuality or gender is a barrier for you to apply for a role at Cogo, I’m more than happy to serve as a resource at any point in your application process. The link to apply for a role in our safe-space is attached below!