There are always many factors to consider when you’re looking for a job—wages, location, culture, career growth, the list goes on. Personally though, there’s one factor on the list that plays a huge role in my decision to join (and stay with) an organization: my sexual identity.
I have had an interesting career path to date—just like many of my fellow millennials. I started off as a teacher, and I loved it. The work allowed me to shape young minds, and I felt like I was truly making a difference. At times, however, I lived with fear, feeling like I had to walk on eggshells and wondering if someone would have a problem with who I was. I always felt insecure that I would come across a parent who “disagreed with my lifestyle.” While to some degree, this may have been built up in my head, I was an untenured teacher, and the fear was real. Since then, that fear has impacted how I’ve made all of my employment decisions, as I never wanted to feel that way again.
After teaching, I spent a few years doing sales and training for a variety of companies. And then, in 2015, I was recruited by Namely. My interview process happened to coincide with the company’s relocation to our current Manhattan headquarters, so I had most of my interviews over the phone. The process was formally informal, which made me feel extremely comfortable. I immediately got a sense of the energy and camaraderie of the team, so I went in with a blind trust and high expectations.
The company was growing quickly, and the onboarding process was still being developed. But the genuine fellowship of everyone on the team made me feel completely at ease. Now we have a lot more structure to our recruiting and onboarding processes, but that sense of camaraderie has only continued to grow.
So how does Namely measure up on that all-important factor? To say that Namely is “accepting” doesn’t quite do it justice. Most recently, we celebrated Pride for the entire month of June, comprised of multiple company-wide events. All employees had the chance to celebrate and learn about why Pride is important. Among those events, we sponsored a Pride Brunch and Pride parade-watching. This was a powerful experience, and one that instilled within me just how progressive Namely is. Employees from across the company came to the event—in fact, there were people in attendance whom I had never spoken with until that day.
These types of events have made my colleagues and my friends become one in the same. The best part of the Pride brunch and parade was that it wasn’t just people who were gay. Two members of our HR team even joined us to support and represent the company. That’s the heart of Namely’s culture—everyone coming together to celebrate each other’s differences and reinforce that cross-functional unity.
Diversity isn’t just a visual attribute. Companies should support and celebrate individuals for who they are and what they know. A diverse and inclusive workplace is not just coming in at 8 and leaving at 5. At Namely, from introducing yourself with a fun fact at the company meeting to joining an intramural sports league, there is so much opportunity for self-expression and collaboration. It’s important to mention that this ultimately stems from our CEO, Matt Straz, who has made it his mission to always remain approachable. The company culture comes from the top-down, and a lot of other companies I’ve worked for don’t have that level of CEO visibility.
I am continually proud to say that I work at Namely. Not only because of the accolades and the platform, but because Namely is a company where everyone is invited to be who they are, and they are accepted immediately. Although I’ve worked at many accepting companies in my career, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more comfortable and understood as I do here. I have the confidence to be myself, which has allowed me to grow and succeed, leading to my most recent promotion. I’ve found a workplace where differences are celebrated, and it is understood that our differences are what makes our culture strong.