Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Diversity and Inclusiveness

As promised this is the article that I put together for the diversity and inclusiveness website on our company intranet. I've changed it slightly to avoid using the company name, although if you dig back through enough posts I'm sure that you can figure out who I work for.

I started working for my current employer back in 1998 while it was part of a joint venture between two other defence companies.
Throughout my time with the company I’ve found it to be a friendly and supportive place. The work has always been interesting and even challenging at times. I’ve been lucky with the projects that I’ve worked on and have even got to travel a bit, spending time in Vermont, Orlando (only 24 hours but it counts), Madrid, Glasgow, Portsmouth and London. In the 10 years before I joined the company the furthest I’d been for work was Plymouth and Faslane.
Everyone that knows me is aware that running and more recently triathlons are something that I’m seriously into, having completed numerous running events from 5K up to marathon and sprint and middle distance triathlons, I’ve still to complete an Ironman distance triathlon but it’s on my list of things to do.
In 2000 my son was diagnosed with Leukaemia and I realised that life is so short that I couldn’t waste any more of it and needed to do something about issues I’d been dealing with since I was young.
From 2000 to 2008 we dealt with my son’s illness, two relapses and finally a bone marrow transplant followed the initial diagnosis. The support from both the company and colleagues when we had to attend appointments and had extended stays in hospital made a difficult time a lot easier.
With my son’s illness behind us, at the end of 2011 I finally dropped the bombshell on my colleagues that I was a male to female transsexual and that in January 2012 I would be returning to work as Jenna. Nobody saw this coming and I would have been surprised if they had. It was enough of a surprise to my family who hadn’t seen it coming.
After a break of several weeks over the festive period I was faced with doing something I had never thought would happen, I was going to walk back through the doors to the office, not as a male but as a female.
That day was nerve wracking. I had been informed how the people I worked with had reacted to the news but the reality of it could still be totally different. After an early start and carefully getting ready I drove into work. At reception I was met by one of my managers and we made our way up to my desk. I wasn’t sure how people would react, would there be stares, would there be comments, and would people have questions. I’d made it clear to the people that I worked with that if there was anything that they wanted to know they could ask me directly or talk to personnel.
Logging on and checking my emails I found a few from people offering support. A couple of people spoke to me to say hello. Other than that it was business as usual, in fact within an hour even I thought that it was like nothing had changed.
I know several people that have transitioned elsewhere and the reactions of the companies, staff and even customers have varied. Some have had good experiences, others the opposite. In the worst cases some people have even left their jobs as a result. I’ve never felt anything like that and honestly can’t think of any other company that I’d have wanted to work for while going through such a life-changing experience.

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