Pride: Going Beyond Lip Service

Companies say, ‘Bring your authentic self to work,’ but what does that really mean?

When I first interviewed last year with Martha Delehanty, Commvault’s Chief People Officer, the discussion took an interesting turn. I was interviewing for the role of Vice President, Corporate Communications, but communications was not the topic du jour. Instead, we discussed the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and what that means at Commvault. At this point in my life, that really matters to me.  

These days, you frequently hear companies talking about “bringing your authentic self to work” but what does that really mean? It almost sounds cliché, like HR speak or fancy lip service. For me, it means being able to openly and directly ask about LBGTQ+ issues during a job interview. Being able to openly reference my same-sex partner during a team call or in a 1:1 discussion with my CEO.

It means not having to change pronouns when referencing my partner at a sales conference or company offsite. And, it means knowing that my company is going to have my back by supporting LBGTQ+ employees and our allies year-round, not just when it works for the company’s PR image. Fortunately, Commvault is truly a place where you can bring your authentic self to work. I never take that for granted. Not for a minute.  

Like so many people I know, I’ve been down that horrible road where LBGTQ+ issues and causes were not supported, discussed, or even remotely accepted at the workplace. In a previous life, I vividly remember walking into a new place of employment, meeting a top company executive and hearing him tell my direct supervisor that he was happy they didn’t hire a “fag” for the job.

I knew if I ever wanted a shot at getting promoted, or for that matter, keeping my job, I had to keep my mouth shut and my private life private. I never intend to go back down that road. I take too much pride in who I am and want to work for a company that takes pride in me.  

There’s been a lot of progress on LBGTQ+ issues, not just on the employment front, but across so many areas of life. There are many more out and open LBGTQ+ leaders being elected to office. Our LBGTQ+ policies in the U.S .military have evolved. And there is greater focus on non-discrimination practices for members of the LBGTQ+ community on fundamental issues like housing.  

But, for every two steps forward, it often seems we take three steps back. For example, the transgender community is under attack. ABC news reported in November that “thirty-three transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed by violence in the United States since last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, 2022.”

That’s horrifying. And, for what? For living their lives authentically? Who are they hurting? What if that was your child, sibling, or friend? These types of challenges facing the LBGTQ+ community go well beyond U.S. borders. In many nations, just getting outed can lead to public humiliation, jail time, or death. This is why a continued focus on Pride is so critical, and why this focus must go beyond lip service. 

Ross Camp (right) with his fiancé, Jeff Braverman

I remain optimistic for many reasons. First, I feel like I have the right to love unapologetically. Jeff Braverman, my longtime partner of nearly 12 years, asked me to marry him as we stood next to a majestic bayou in my home state of Louisiana.

I immediately said yes. How could I not? He’s the love of my life. We’re getting married in the fall. Twenty years ago, I never thought marrying my same-sex partner would be possible. Now it is. We will see if that national right continues to prevail.

Second, I work for a company that supports me and embraces who I am. That’s huge. And third, I see more communities standing up for equality. Yes, there is a lot more work to do, but today, I’d like to celebrate our successes. I wish all members of the LBGTQ+ community globally and our allies a happy Pride! 

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