What our commitment to Diversity & Inclusion means to Annette Friskop.
Contributed by Annette Friskopp, VP & GM of HP Specialty Printing Systems and Executive Sponsor of Global Pride at HP Inc.
Pride Month 2018 may be over, but Annette Friskopp shares what HP’s commitment to diversity and inclusion means to her today and every day.
As Pride Month wraps up, I’m filled with gratitude and inspiration. Thirty-two years ago, I joined the workforce in New York City. I left my family and friends because I was pretty sure New York City would offer me more opportunities to meet other gay people and be successful in business if anyone did find out I was gay.
Early in my career, a top manager at my company was shot by another man, and my boss said the victim deserved it because he was gay. No one said anything else, and Human Resources was completely silent. I remained in the closet and planned my exit from that company. Still today, research shows that companies that don’t create an inclusive environment for their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) employees experience lower retention and lower business results.
Leading the way to inclusion
I worked for a number of companies on a number of continents before joining HP almost nine years ago. I have seen a lot of positive changes, and HP stands out in leading the way. In 1986, HP employees started one of the first lesbian and gay employee groups.
We had one of the first Safe Space initiatives in the ‘90s, and we now have Allies@HP resources available to all employees, no matter where they are located. Many of the advances in building an inclusive environment started with one person or a handful of people stepping forward and personally explaining why anti-discrimination was good for business.
Life at HP
Fast forward to today. HP continues to lead the way. It’s hard to measure what it means to a closeted person when our CEO, Dion, talks about the importance of diversity, or when country managers and leaders write supportive letters to kick off Pride Month, or when many leaders and colleagues march in Pride parades and participate in ally trainings.
I’m sure that not one LGBTQ employee takes this for granted because most of us have experienced some situation in our careers that reminds us of how hurtful it can be to feel not included or worse.
Research also shows how recent graduates entering the workforce look to see if companies have an inclusive environment for LGBTQ employees, as this is the type of environment they want to choose for their careers.
Pride is not just about LGBTQ employees. Pride is the recognition that our customers are LGBTQ as well, and they make trillions of dollars of annual purchase decisions. Pride is about embracing different opinions and points of view so that collectively we can invent the best possible solutions for our customers.
If we were not putting the focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace that we are, we would be missing out on the best talent pool, the full spectrum of creative ideas, and the cross-collaboration that happens between so many different employees. To succeed as a company and stay at the top of our industry, we need all the talents of everyone.
Pride Month at HP
I continue to learn new perspectives every year during Pride Month. When I read posts on our internal social media page about LGBTQ activities in Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Germany, Costa Rica, Houston, Boise, San Diego, Rio Rancho, Corvallis, Singapore, Taiwan, and Bangalore (just to name a few), I realize there is no one Pride voice in HP, there are many. HP Bangalore employees are leading the way with transgender awareness training. HP Brazil employees participated in the largest Pride parade in the world.
I’ve met HP Pride leaders in many countries in my routine travels, and I’m touched to hear their personal stories, hear about their children, their volunteer activities, and their love for their HP jobs.
I feel the common thread of the HP Way through all of us, striving to make HP a great place to fulfill career aspirations, grow, and give back to our communities. Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett would be proud.
When I see Pride and ally stickers at our offices globally, I feel gratitude for the change I’ve seen in the workplace and I also think of the opportunities we have to do more.
Many who cannot come out for personal or cultural reasons see these symbols in silence and feel welcome in their HP work family. We all have an opportunity to learn from each other and enrich our lives with different perspectives.
Compared to other companies where I have worked, I have never experienced such genuine inclusion and deep work friendships as a result.
Want to learn more? Watch “Reinvent Mindsets: Proud Portraits” and visit our Diversity & Inclusion website.
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