Choosing your major and profession are difficult life decisions to make. Deciding whether to tell your coworkers you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) is an altogether different quandary to address. No one understands this better than four TI engineers.
“I’ve been waiting since I was a teenager for people to understand that this one thing about me is the one thing that will affect our relationship the least,” said Sara Barnard, digital design engineer for the analog high-speed data converters group. “I’m still waiting for the world to say ‘who cares?’”
Sara pursued engineering in college after a 10-year break following high school graduation, and her path to our company was a bit different. Her mixed-signal testing professor led her to TI when Sara asked about connections to the company. Sara had always heard positive things about our company. She became involved with the TI Pride Network (TIPN) soon after becoming a TIer.
“It’s really great to work with people who are open-minded,” she said. “I’ve been here for 12 years, and in all that time only one co-worker has said something a bit off color and immediately apologized.”
Her road to engineering
Kathrina had no intentions of studying engineering in high school, but she stumbled upon the BEST Robotics program and ended up enjoying it. Founded by our very own engineers, BEST also helped link Kathrina, a product marketing engineer for High Volume Analog & Logic (HVAL) products, to TI.
“The program gave me exposure to engineering and TI,” she said. “It’s a blessing to come full-circle working for the company that inspired me to become an engineer in the first place.”
Her path to engineering continued at university, where fellow students were not tolerant of her sexual orientation and made ignorant comments. When it was time to graduate, Kathrina knew she wanted to stay in Dallas, but finding a LGBT-friendly company was also very important to her.
“I looked at the [human rights campaign] HRC index for corporations, and TI ranked pretty high on the list,” she said. “I’ve been here a year, and this company is so tolerant. I’m very happy.”
Kathrina was out at TI from day one, but she did not call a lot of attention to this. At one point, she brought up the overlooked difference in a meeting, and she quickly learned that the company stand behind its TIers.
Michael Cole, an engineer in the leadership development rotational program (LDRP) currently in External Manufacturing, thinks acceptance toward LGBT is a “trickle-down effect.” He doesn’t hide his sexuality, but he also doesn’t flaunt it.
“I show up and provide results,” he said. “But I’ve realized that the more you are yourself, the easier it is to perform to the expectations you set for yourself. Once I get to know someone, I’ll decide if it’s wise to disclose that part of my life. I want business as usual, and I don’t want to worry about some external factor that could possibly hinder our working relationship.”
Michael has been very pleased with TI’s acceptance of all types of diversity. When he moved to Taiwan for a year, the company included Michael’s partner, Hunter, in the move abroad.
“I’m getting more involved with the Pride Network to help continue change,” he said. “That said, I think some of our acceptance and initiative goals will take time.”
Bringing your ‘whole self’ to work