An inclusive culture lets you be your best you
Celebrating Pride Month
The core tenet of workplace inclusivity is that if you value people, their belonging matters.
“Whether learning how to be a better ally or connecting with fellow employees, a workplace where authenticity is valued is critical,” said Angela Bretz, Nationwide’s Chief Diversity and Talent Acquisition Officer. “We want our employees to be their best version of themselves, feel safe being who they are, and give them every opportunity to succeed.”
The impact that an inclusive workplace makes is best told through the eyes of those living it every day. Nationwide asked some of its employees to share their stories.
"On my very first day in 2015, I arrived with a mix of emotions feeling excited for the new opportunity and anxious about all the unknowns. As an LGBTQ+ person, one of those unknowns is always having to consider whether it will be a safe space to be “out” at work. As I sat down for my first meeting with my new manager that day, I wondered how much of myself was I going to need to hide. What if he casually asks me about my weekend? Could I talk about spending it with my partner? Should I use “they” instead of “she” when referring to her? Surely, I’ll be asked to introduce myself, what should I say about my personal life? As these questions raced through my head, my manager casually sat down across from me and off-handedly mentioned that he was leaving after work to pick up his husband from the airport. In that instant, all those racing thoughts I was struggling with disappeared.
That simple act of unconscious kindness let me know it was safe to be exactly who I am, that there was no need to hide here. It’s an experience I’ve strived to embody during the seven years and counting I’ve been with the company. You never know who needs to see you live your truth so that they can live their truth. At Nationwide, I’ve always felt embraced and empowered to live my truth."
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Eason
“I see our inclusive culture shine in our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups provide a space to amplify the voices of employees at all levels of the company. When I began my career here five years ago, the ERGs allowed me to meet people who both shared my views and challenged them. They helped me grow and develop into the more thoughtful and people-valuing leader I am now. Today, I thoroughly enjoy having a leadership role in our Pride ERG, and giving our LGBTQ+ employees and allies a space to vocalize how we as a company can support them.”
Terry B. Hardaway, II
“When I first started eight years ago, I wasn’t out at work. I was pretty good at keeping my private life to myself. Upon moving to Columbus, I decided to march in the Pride parade with my team. We were about halfway through the parade route and I saw my manager standing on the side, waving and calling my name. First there was shock. Then I realized she’s here as a supporter and she’s happy to see me! I ran over and gave her and her husband hugs as they both wished me a Happy Pride. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a very freeing moment where I realized that it’s okay to be my true self even at work.”
"Inclusivity to me is when I’m surrounded by a diverse group of individuals who really care about people. I was privileged to be part of a leadership development program specifically geared towards LGBTQ+ employees, which, to me, shows a commitment to diversity and elevating members of our community. It was incredible to have a chance to connect with my queer Nationwide family and it felt special that it was facilitated by our company. I am inspired seeing fellow trans and gender nonconforming individuals being respected, elevated, and developed. Even something as simple as listing preferred pronouns on an email signature is an act of inclusivity that I see more and more employees engaging in.
As a queer trans person, I feel like I’ve come out in layers to different groups, at different times, and any time I’ve come out or been myself here, I’m always met with open arms. During my gender journey, I’ve tried different pronouns and my leaders never skipped a beat. I am pretty open about my passion for inclusivity and, recently, I was approached by a colleague who wanted to learn more about gender identity and pronouns, but didn’t know where to start. It was so refreshing to see that kind of vulnerability and humility in the workplace."