For Christy Pambianchi, Intel’s Chief People Officer, Pride Month is an opportunity to celebrate the progress made in advancing LGBT+ rights — and have focused dialogue on advancing equity and inclusion in the workplace. To kick off Intel’s celebration of Pride Month, we spoke with Christy about allyship, supporting her son, her experience advocating for LGBT+ rights, and more.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride Month calls attention to the need for equal rights and access for the LGBT+ community. I’ve been in the workforce since before Pride month existed, and over the years I have realized through friends and others who have confided in me that people in the LGBT+ community often have had life experiences that were very different than mine.
There are a lot of things that some of us take for granted that impact members of the LGBT+ community. While conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion should occur throughout the entire year, Pride Month creates a specific time for focused, intentional dialogue to celebrate progress, elevate understanding, and look ahead to the areas that need additional attention for the LGBT+ community.
I grew up in the ‘80s when it was unsafe for many members of the LGBT+ community to be open about their identities. However, I was honored that several of my friends trusted me enough to come out and confide in me about the challenges they faced. Their stories inspired me to act and get involved.
Ever since my son came out to me in 2019, being an ally has become even more personal.
Can you tell us about your son? How did he come out to you?
When my youngest son, came back from his sixth-grade dance, I asked him if he had danced with a specific girl who is a close friend of his. He said he hadn’t, and looked towards his sister, who nodded and said, “It’s okay, you can tell her!” With the support and reassurance of his three older siblings, he told me that he was gay. I think my initial reaction was, “Cool! How do you know?” He told me that he just knew.
His coming out surprised me because he was 11 at the time. I was really proud and appreciative that he felt safe enough to share that with me, and that his siblings had been there to support and encourage him.
What are the biggest challenges you have encountered during this journey? What are the biggest joys?
As a parent, the thing you’re most afraid of is someone hurting your child. At first, I thought a lot about how to keep him safe and deciding whether I should tell an 11-year-old about how unaccepting the world can be.
There have been a few incidents when he read derogatory comments that were posted online. When that happened, I told him and his siblings, first, that you have agency over who you let into your life. Second, instead of being reactive, use the conversation to pose questions and give people something to think about. You may never reach a common ground, but you’ll at least create a dialogue, rather than just engaging in a conflict. I think that’s true of most situations and topics.
My biggest joy has been to see my son be himself and thrive. He’s been helping improve our extended family’s understanding of LGBT+ rights. He advocated to bring his U.S. high school LGBT+ resource group to the middle school and he and his classmates even met with the principal to start an open dialogue.
Can you share more about your experience promoting equal rights and access for the LGBT+ community?
Throughout my career, I’ve aimed to advance equal rights and opportunities for all people, including the LGBT+ community, both inside and outside of the workplace. Prior to coming to Intel, I worked to ensure we include same-sex partners in corporate benefits plans to advocating for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act in the U.S. Each step of the way, I have become more educated about how societal structures can be tied to underlying definitions, and I think that is crucial. One of the main ways we can drive harmony is by taking the time to understand each other, and that requires focused intentional dialogue and learning.
How can companies be good allies? How has Intel made progress in this area?
Businesses can ensure that workplaces are safe and inclusive for everyone through both company culture and organizational policies. Workplaces are where we have some of our most important interactions with those who may be different from us. Companies should capitalize on that amazing opportunity to foster a sense of common ground and empathy for each other.
At Intel, we value innovation, and we recognize that innovation comes from sharing different points of view. Therefore, diversity is a foundational part of our DNA, in all aspects. Wearing the Intel badge means that there are certain values you abide by, and that you treat everyone at Intel as part of your team and with respect.
Our primary goal is to create a safe, respectful work environment for all employees. I’m proud of Intel’s advocacy for equal rights and legal protections against employment discrimination. Intel invests in LGBT+ owned businesses as part of our Supplier Diversity Program, is a founding corporate member of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and has achieved 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index for 17 years. We have set up LGBT+ employee resource groups in certain countries and the Circuit+ network as platforms where employees can interact with one another. We have inclusive benefits and social programs in place for our employees. And there’s so much more we can do.
In the “never done” spirit, we’re always thinking about the next steps for our Intel team to be better allies.
One last question: What are you going to do this Pride Month?
I am going to celebrate with my family and community. It is a great opportunity to learn more and be part of a dialogue.
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