Celebrating Pride Month – Being Proud of Who You Are
In celebration of Pride Month, Zach Shelton shares how DHG has given him the support he needs to be his true, authentic self at work and why Pride Month is important to him.
How does your identity relate to your work at DHG?
I feel very comfortable being out at work – DHG has given me the support I need to be myself, including being open about my relationship with my long-time boyfriend, Eric. Eric attends our annual DHG Holiday Parties (where he shows me up with his dancing skills). I have a photo of us together in my office, and even our CEO has asked me questions and showed interest in Eric’s career in cow farming. Tone at the top demonstrates DHG’s support and acceptance of who I am.
In my experience throughout my career, people have been more accepting of LGBTQ people in the workplace. While this may not be the case everywhere, I do know of many companies in my industry that actively support their gay workforce. I am lucky enough not to have faced any barriers to progress in my career thus far – my own experience has been very positive.
However, it is important to remain mindful of the experiences of others, as they may be totally different from my own. That’s why we must do everything we can to enact positive and progressive change in our workplaces, to make them more accessible to all LGBTQ people, so we’re able to bring our authentic selves to work.
Pride Month means something different for everyone. Everyone has their personal experience that shapes why they want to be there— to represent, to celebrate, to remember. But for me personally, it’s about people having equal rights and progression. I think Pride Month is a time to spotlight the LGBTQ efforts, especially for those who may live in a place where people are not as comfortable with taking an active role for the LGBTQ community. Everyone’s reason to celebrate will be different and look different and that’s part of what’s great about Pride Month.
While I have not faced instances of homophobia since my college days, I feel it’s important to remain mindful of the experiences of others in my community in their careers, as they may be different from my own. We must do everything we can to enact positive change in our workplaces, by celebrating people that are different. This will prove to be critical to our firm’s growth and future success in the global marketplace. DHG values our LGBTQ people and what they bring to DHG – we should empower them to feel comfortable to bring their authentic selves to work.
What is DHG LGBTQ Allies Common Interest Group?
DHG LGBTQ Allies is a newly forming DHG Common Interest Group. Our group will represent LGBTQ employees, and their Allies at DHG. Our goal is to continue to foster an environment that embraces and celebrates diversity in a wide range of orientations, family arrangements, and gender identities through supporting the individual employee and the firm. Our group includes the word “Allies” in the name, as it’s critical for people to know our Common Interest Group isn’t limited to LGBTQ individuals. It’s a group for everyone in our firm, including those that want to support our LGBTQ employees as an Ally.
Workplace role models change lives. Having people in the workplace who support your identity and can offer advice and inspiration are invaluable. I’ve been lucky to have people like Rodney Murray and many others as role models in my life who’ve shown me what it means to inspire people. They’re just people who have shared their stories with me and encouraged me throughout my career. Rodney Murray has encouraged when not to make an issue of something or when I can push harder for something. I think role models are there to celebrate the triumphs and accomplishments with you.
What advice would you give to an LGBTQ person at the start of their career?
Be proud of who you are – and be willing to work hard, respect others, and roll up your sleeves to get the job done. At the end of the day, it’s all about respecting others and they will likely respect you. I have found throughout my career that our clients just want the job done right.