10-10-2019 06:00 AM
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In celebration of National Coming Out Day, Federico Castro (pictured right), an Information Technology manager at Intel Costa Rica, shares how a supportive, inviting work culture encouraged him to bring his full self to work—and inspire others to do the same.
When I came to work at Intel, I was a contingent worker, and my partner at the time was a full-time Intel employee. Intel was offering insurance to same-sex couples for the first time. It was empowering, it was revolutionary, and it helped me make the decision to be open and honest from that point forward. So, in 1999, I came out at Intel.
When I had a chance to relocate to the Intel Mexico site in 2012, I was nervous about the reception I would get. But I never wanted to look back, only forwards. I decided to meet this head-on and saw it as an opportunity to make an impact. From the beginning of my time in that role, I was very open talking about my sexual orientation, my partner, and my life. Little by little, my colleagues became more interested in my life and my friend group was growing.
By role modeling, I was providing the space for others to be out at work, or to bring themselves fully into their role. This experience showed me how important it was to have someone in a leadership position be out to show people it was okay and you can still be respected in your role.
Two years later, I was asked to manage a team in Costa Rica. It was there than an employee from the Guadalajara campus called and said, “I just saw on Circuit News that you opened up an IGLOBE Chapter in Costa Rica. I’m struggling because I’m starting my transition and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it or not.” “Don’t worry,” I said, “we have your back”. I contacted Human Resources to gain a better understanding of what is legally necessary to move forward for someone to transition. I encouraged my friends in Guadalajara to start a chapter of the Intel Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender Employee (IGLOBE) network as allies to help support this employee with their transition. Initially, it was something done in a moment of support and rally, but now this IGLOBE site is incredibly active. In this moment, I knew my decision to be out at Intel was worth every conversation, every worry, every unease. Sharing my life and being open and out allowed others to know it is ok to be out as well.
Reflecting on the instances when I’ve chosen to come out, I sometimes feel as though I have cheated the system. It was never a hard decision. Sure there were some conversations that were harder than others, but in my professional life, it was important for me to not hide this part of my identity.
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