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
From left: Dorsey, Sara, Michael and Kathrina
When Dorsey Standish, a program manager in the DLP® Advanced Light Control product line, was attending University of Pennsylvania, she applied for an internship at our company during her junior year of college. She did not know anyone in Dallas, and the city was quite a change from her East Coast upbringing.
“I really found myself during that summer in Dallas — Being on my own in a new city and working and contributing as a TI intern was the best feeling in the world,” Dorsey said. “Later that summer I started dating a woman, and I came out to my friends and family the following year of college.”
But Dorsey, who worked in a DLP engineering team at the time, didn’t disclose her sexuality to her work family for about a year-and-a-half. With her job transition to program manager, she felt it was time to be open and “bring her entire self to work.” Then when she requested to represent TI Pride at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit last year, her manager let her attend with the condition that she would lead TI’s presence at the conference the endeavor this year.
She’s still pumped about her experience at the most recent summit, which took place at the Hilton Anatole in downtown Dallas in October.
“The largest TI team ever, thirty-two of us, attended the summit, and we all came away so energized,” she said. “It was an amazing opportunity to interact with other LGBT young leaders, as well as network with Allied TI managers and senior leaders. Greg Delagi and Hubie Payne are two of our strongest executive allies, and their presence at the conference brought so much energy to the TI team.”
Dorsey recently volunteered at Youth First, a resource center in downtown Dallas for LGBT youth. Volunteers from TI, AT&T, Raytheon, and other companies participated in a mini-career fair and cooked dinner, bringing together many kids from all walks of life.
“I am so inspired by young, ambitious kids who have already overcome major struggles,” she said. “At the Youth First career fair, I told them that I’m a strong person with a drive to succeed; it doesn’t matter who I love. I can still contribute at a high level in any organization. Use your brain and do great things! Look like who you are and be who you are. That is the way to spread the message of LGBT equality. If you work really hard and are true to yourself, people will listen and respect you.”
As leaders of our company Pride Network, Dorsey, Michael and Kathrina are working on their priorities for the coming year. While it truly is a “trickle-down” effect, their key initiatives include:
Making managers aware of LGBT issues
Expanding the ally program through the existing Safe Space initiative
Reaching out and interacting with more remote sites
Establishing a mentorship program
From TI Diversity & Inclusion Blog