Transgender visibility: How employees thrive in an inclusive workplace

March 31, 2017

To celebrate International Transgender Visibility Day, we share the voices of our employees and our commitment to people. Read about the experiences of three Bloomberg employees who are raising the visibility of our global transgender community.

Roxana Chu

Roxana Chu, EMEA Global Markets Implementation Specialist works in the Bloomberg London office.

Roxana Chu, EMEA Global Markets Implementation Specialist works in the Bloomberg London office.

What makes Bloomberg an inclusive workplace?
When I first joined Bloomberg in the London office I presented myself as a gay male and I was so encouraged to see the diversity of gender, religion, abilities and race represented. I felt welcomed and accepted.

However, during my fourth year here I became severely depressed. While my work performance history was great, I felt like I was living life as two people and I struggled to keep up with work and even basic day-to-day interactions with people.

It was Bloomberg’s inclusive workplace and colleagues that saved my life.

Through Bloomberg’s mental health benefits, I was able to access treatment for my depression. When the psychiatrist diagnosed me with transgenderism, I reached out to the Bloomberg LGBT & Ally Community for help. They hosted a transgender woman guest speaker for a lunch-and-learn and I felt so inspired to hear that you can have a successful career as a transgender person and truly be yourself. I knew at that point I was ready to make the transition.

The LGBT & Ally Community immediately connected me with our Human Resources representative to discuss the resources on gender transitioning as an employee and walked me through every step of the way with sensibility and care.

How have Bloomberg leaders and managers helped enable you to live an open, authentic life and bring your whole self to work?
In addition to walking me through the process, the HR manager organized gender awareness training for my colleagues, explained to me my health benefits coverage and even helped to arrange my name changes in all internal systems. I will never forget HR’s dedication and warmth throughout the whole process, something I will always be grateful for.

Coming out to my team leader about my gender transition could have been the most nerve-racking experience. But, Bloomberg created such an inclusive culture through LGBT trainings and discussions that I felt completely comfortable in speaking with my manager on such a personal topic.

When I came back to work as myself, I was greeted with flowers and ‘welcome back and congratulations’ notes from colleagues as well as Peter Grauer, Chairman of Bloomberg LP. I was so touched by all their support and encouragement, I felt at ease in living openly with who I am as a transgender woman at work.

These actions of Bloomberg leaders, managers and colleagues were basically saying to me: Don’t worry, we are here for you. You are in good hands.

How has Bloomberg’s commitment to diversity and inclusion enriched your experience working here?
Working in a large organization can feel lonely sometimes. But when I joined the LGBT & Ally Community, I instantly gained a network to help me navigate at work and we offered each other tips on having a successful career here.

My gender transition in the workplace really showed me how Bloomberg as an employer may hire someone for their skills and contributions to the business, and are also committed to accepting them as a whole person. Working here opened up my eyes to the human-side of work and the heart behind the company, they truly cared.

Roxana (second from left) with Bloomberg colleagues in London celebrating Pride Month. Her life motto: “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?” is what inspires her to be an advocate for transgender inclusion in the workplace.

Roxana (second from left) with Bloomberg colleagues in London celebrating Pride Month. Her life motto: “If not now, then when? If not me, then who?” is what inspires her to be an advocate for transgender inclusion in the workplace.

Cassidy Allan

Cassidy Allan, Software Engineer for Multi Asset Risk System pricing works at the Bloomberg Headquarters in New York.

Cassidy Allan, Software Engineer for Multi Asset Risk System pricing works at the Bloomberg Headquarters in New York.

What does visibility at work mean for you?
I began my gender transition in my personal life first with hormone therapy and decided I would transition at work a year later. But, I ended up transitioning five to six months earlier than I intended to.

I had all my clothes for work in a separate closet – they were Matt’s clothes, not Cassidy’s.  And every day around 4 PM at work, I would be yearning to come home to change back into Cassidy’s clothes, my own skin.  My colleagues at work would ask me what my weekend plans were and I started to naturally say “My spouse and I have plans” like I would as Cassidy, instead of “My wife and I” when I’m Matt.

I was making myself miserable in pretending to be Matt at work. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have any excuses not to transition at work too.

It’s not an easy decision to make a change like this in your life – there are no walls to hide behind to separate your lives. If you’re transgender, everything is visible – especially for me, as I’m in the early stages of transitioning.  It’s not like you’re only visible on Transgender Visibility Day – every day is visibility day. I’m looking forward to fully completing my transition into Cassidy over the coming months.

 

What are some things that you expect from employers when it comes to workplace inclusion?
You kind of expect there to be issues that pop up nowadays – you begin to think, “That’s just how it’ll be.”  But that really isn’t the case here at Bloomberg.

I felt support even when I didn’t expect it – colleagues would flag an issue or follow up on a conversation if they felt someone or something might unintentionally make me uncomfortable. It’s always surprising when people notice these things and have my back.

My manager has been great too, always encouraging me to speak up about how I’m feeling.  It means a lot to me and it never ceases to surprise me.

Once your gender transition process is complete, would you be open about your transgender background to new colleagues?
Yes, I would. Part of me would want to sweep it under the rug, but there’s something dishonest about that.

I think the problem with going into “stealth mode,” or leaving behind careers and friends to start fresh with new people unaware of my transgender identity, is that it hides a lot of the successful, happy moments of the transition.

I believe there’s a middle ground between making your identity into a statement about being trans and making it virtually invisible. I want to be in an area where you can be open about your identity and your whole life experience, without it being a defining characteristic.

I owe it to future generations to find that middle ground and live in it, so they know that they can too.

Stella Campaner

Stella Campaner, US Human Resources works at the Bloomberg Headquarters in New York.

Stella Campaner, US Human Resources Enablement Representative works at the Bloomberg Headquarters in New York.

How has the Bloomberg LGBT & Ally Community impacted you personally?
It changed my life and my perspectives. I worked in the São Paulo office for about 8 years and had the opportunity to be one of the leaders of the LGBT & Ally Community there.

We educated employees and families about the LGBT scene and culture, to empower that community about the importance of being an ally. Each new ally we gained understands and represents the LGBT community, becoming part of the conversation in advancing gender equality.

Bloomberg’s inclusive culture not only is a safe environment that shows respect and appreciation to employees worldwide, it’s a powerful chain of advocates. My husband is a trans-man, which means he was born female, but identifies his gender as male. He started his gender transition in 2015, including hormone therapy.

Our journey has been challenging, but the encouragement and support we received from so many Bloomberg colleagues and LGBT & Ally community members, friends and family along each and every step of this process, made this an overall positive experience.

Stella (left) and her husband, Cello, celebrate their second anniversary.

Stella (left) and her husband, Cello, celebrate their second anniversary.

While in São Paulo, how did Bloomberg’s inclusive culture extend beyond the company and into the local community?
Diversity plays an essential role in every aspect of our lives. Company-wide, the LGBT & Ally Community efforts focus on four areas: leadership development, commercial impact, recruiting and community engagement.

In the São Paulo office, we hosted events covering a range of LGBT issues and we invited the external community touching several of those four areas. We had external guest speakers, client attendees and partnered with other companies to advocate for LGBT rights in the community.

One of the most impactful events we organized was in partnership with a client to speak about the LGBT family, marriage and adoption process in Brazil. It was incredibly powerful to hear the insightful questions and see the interactions between Bloomberg employees and clients.

Our inclusive culture transcends beyond the walls of our company and interweaves with the greater community as global citizens jointly moving the needle on LGBT awareness.


At Bloomberg, we are committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all employees. Earlier in 2017, we were named a Best Place to Work 2017 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.