Seeing her best friend come out during high school – and be rejected by his parents and friends – shaped Cindy’s drive for a diverse and inclusive workplace.
My best friend came out when we were high school seniors. He was the same person I had known for 10 years – always funny, kind, smart and loyal. The only thing that changed? He finally felt comfortable enough to share his full self.
His parents rejected this, and some of our friends did, too. But I could not understand what was so different about him; he was the same person as the day before, but now free enough to share that he was homosexual. When I saw this rejection and how he felt, I was compelled to take a stand. To stand by him and support him through this was what any friend would do. He would do it for me; he was and is my best friend.
I am so happy that the world has evolved from the 1980s, but there is still work to do. Coming to Boston and joining Foundation Medicine was great for many reasons … one was that my friend is part of the Cambridge, Massachusetts LGBTQ Biotech community. We stood side by side once again in support of each other.
My friend’s experience opened my eyes to diversity of thought, of culture, and influenced who I am today. My leadership team at Foundation Medicine included a diverse group of people, each bringing new ideas to the table, making the company, culture and our strategies more informed. Now, in my role at Roche Molecular Labs, I will again focus on diversity across my team.
When I think about why LGBTQ networks are important in the workplace, it is about coming to work as your whole self. The beauty of our talented workforce across the group is that we all come together to deliver on common goals for patients and for Roche. We should celebrate not just the goals we achieve together, but who we are as individuals. Diverse and inclusive workforces are higher performing, and it is important to cultivate that. Networks like OPEN at Roche, gPRIDE at Genentech or PROUD (Promoting, Representation of Openness and Understanding Diversity) at Foundation Medicine shape our culture and support creating environments that allow people to bring their best selves to work.
For the LGBTQ community, allies are important in every aspect of what we do. They help promote the culture in the workplace in the same way members of the community do – pushing for equality and diversity, helping others come out, helping to support understanding and advocacy. I have seen managers support people to come out when their families were not supportive.
It is critical to have a culture of seeing individuals for who they are, what they stand for. I think every person has a right to express themselves; some may choose not to share, but it should not be an issue for those who want to.
*This blog was updated in June 2021