The month of June is widely known as Pride Month and this has led the marketing world to push many companies to switch their logos to includes LGBTQIA+ flags until the 30th. No initiatives, no volunteering, no fundraisers. The stores fill with pride and ally-friendly merchandise and slowly moves to the discount rack in July. This representation is needed, but it’s crushing to look behind the curtains of companies to find a lack of acceptance within their own culture or hiring process. This information is unsettling when stepping back and looking at the talent that is overlooked for a part of themselves that they can’t change. That doesn’t scream pride.
When discussing Pride Month with the Stack Moxie team, we wanted intent behind our participation. We wanted Stack Moxie’s pride to show it’s true colors by sharing our own stories. A few of our employees are either in the LGBTQIA+ community or openly allies, so we’re using our platform to give them a voice. Normalizing diversity in the workplace starts with us. Our CEO, M.H. Lines, has done an excellent job with creating such a warm and welcoming environment for everyone to be themselves. Having this opportunity has proven to create a comfortable, safe space that makes work enjoyable. One of our values is “Radical Hospitality” and the Stack Moxie team can attest to that:
I never felt like myself at most of the companies that I’ve worked at in the past. I have always felt the need to put on a facade because of the industry or state I was in, but I would still get labeled as “the weird marketing person.” As a result, I always felt the need to hide every little detail about my life to avoid drawing additional attention to myself.
When starting at Stack Moxie, I felt a different energy – there was no judgment about who I am, who I love, or how I look. For the first time, I feel like others don’t define my ability to do my job well by my tattoos and piercings. I have a safe space to be myself and express my queer identity without judgment. I credit this to Adam’s leadership and unapologetic choice to be his true, authentic self. To have a workplace culture where I feel comfortable has made every day of work fulfilling.
Going into a new role, I was worried that my ideas would be shot down or I’d be judged for making a poor suggestion. Instead, I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes because they are learning experiences. As Adam once said, “If you haven’t ever had a #moopsie then you are NOT trying hard enough cause #failshappen.” The praise I’ve received has encouraged me to express my opinions, and I feel like my voice matters.
I’ve been very fortunate to have the vast majority of my employers support me being gay – I’ve even been lucky enough to have queer employers!
That being said, I’ve also had employers that didn’t support my identity. In those work environments, I felt less comfortable in the workplace, as if I was constantly looking over my shoulder and trying not to act “too gay” instead of just doing my job. Being in a constant state of stress induced by how your coworkers and superiors perceive your existence and mannerisms is not a productive way to work. I dedicated too much energy to worrying about how I would be perceived and navigating others’ discomforts in those environments—both of those impeded my ability to be my best.
However, in a supportive workplace like Stack Moxie that not only accepts but celebrates my identity, I’m freed to be fully myself. Rather than playing mental gymnastics with how something I said might have impacted others’ views of who I am, I can contribute to my team knowing that I’m accepted as I am. It’s the content of my words that matters, not whether I say them with an earring on, my tattoos displayed, or in a voice that’s perceived as “too gay.”
As a company, we don’t really have a social mission. I truly believe that letting people spend time positioning our product, instead of positioning themselves, is capitalism at its finest. As an employee and as a people manager, I’ve found that allowing people to be human and every inch of what that entails, makes us better able to do our jobs.
But as a person, as a woman and a mom who has had to hide who she is to succeed, being a part of this team that would share these things unbidden, is one of my greatest professional moments. I know that in small and meaningful ways, as our company grows, we can change some of what is broken here in the US.
A company’s greatest asset isn’t its buildings, code base, or intellectual property — its the humans that choose to dedicate their lives to its mission. Many LGTBQIA+ youth struggle with their identity, trying to hide who they are out of fear they won’t be accepted. Code switching is a privilege for some, but out of reach for most of us. So we come as we are.
I had never experienced workplace homophobia until I moved into the C-Suite. Suddenly people cared a whole lot about how I looked, spoke and acted. It took me several years to understand that “lacks executive presence” really did mean “he’s just too gay for us”. It took me several more years to realize that I didn’t need to change myself to be their vision of an executive to be successful. Human Capital is the lifeblood of our businesses, the spark that ignites, the fuel on which innovation soars. If business leaders are so scared of diversity, that they are willing to limit the potential of their business by starving it of the top human capital, then they will get everything they deserve.