My Journey as an Ally
by Margie Perscheid – Project Manager, SF Digital Products Operations
When our son came out to my husband and me in 2012, we learned that we weren't the first people he told: he had in fact been coming out for years to friends in college. "Why didn't you say anything to us?" I asked him a few days after he gave us the news. "Because I didn't know how you would react," he said. It was pretty hard to hear, since we saw ourselves as staunch allies to the LGBTQ community, as well as our kids' safe haven in the world. But, honestly, we hadn't been very vocal at home on LGBTQ issues, so our support was invisible to our kids. That changed with our son’s announcement.
The first step was to acknowledge how little I know about sexual identity and gender orientation, the history of LGBTQ rights in our country and LGBTQ life experience. I found plenty of information right here at Fannie Mae. The HR section of our intranet has a LGBTQ Resource Center that provides a wealth of resources (including Fannie Mae policies that impact LGBTQ employees and the incredibly useful 10 things you can do to be an ally pamphlet). Fannie Mae and Live Openly sponsor some outstanding training and panel discussions, too, like Straight for Equality in the Workplace 101 or the panel discussions on Marriage Equality in the U.S. Supreme Court and Authenticity at the Heart of Housing.
Nancy Jardini, Chief Compliance Officer, moderated a panel discussion on how employees can be more authentic at work, and the advantages to doing so. Concepts of "covering" and "intersectionality” were explored, and how they pertain to being a successful leader in today's workplace.
Some of the statistics I found in our resources are sobering. For example, 44% of employees don't come out at work because their office cultures are neutral or unfriendly on LGBTQ issues or they don’t realize that benefits are available (The Power of "Out"2.0: LGBT in the Workplace, 2013). And, 24% of LGBTQ workers point to a strong network of allies in making the decision to come out professionally (The Power of "Out"2.0: LGBT in the Workplace, 2013). Allies really are needed, and we can help change these numbers.
So I took the next step and joined Live Openly’s Allies Working Group when it started a couple of years ago. Whether straight or gay, the Allies are all trying to figure out how to promote equality and support the community. A highlight for me was working with fellow ally Melanie Bullard to plan and lead the first two Safe Space discussions. The Allies function like a Live Openly committee, so we also had many opportunities to work on ERG projects – like establishing the HR LGBTQ Resource Center, creating the Become An Ally video, manning the booth at the Capital Pride festival, volunteering together during 7 Days to SERVE, and more.
Live Openly ERG volunteers at the Washington, DC 2018 Capital Pride Festival.
Our daughter is out now, too, although she never actually came out; we figured it out from her social media photos. I asked her the same question I asked my son back in 2012: "Why didn't you say anything to us?" "I didn’t think it was a big deal" she said, and it wasn't. I want to live in a world in which the gender of my kids' partners is no big deal to anyone. I have tremendous gratitude to Fannie Mae, the Live Openly ERG, and the Allies Working Group for their commitment to that future, and for helping me on my journey as an ally.
Fannie Mae is a proud ally of the LGBTQ community. This video highlights what it means for us to be an ally.
If you're seeking a new opportunity with a company dedicated to creating an environment where every employee feels safe to be their authentic selves at work, search our current openings. Then, follow Fannie Mae Careers on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to learn more about working at the #HeartofHousing!