Over the course of my 11-year long career at Nokia I’ve experienced a lot, and evolved from pre-sales to commercial management in Mobile Networks. Not too long ago, I transitioned into a new role as the Asia-Pacific Head of Sales in Hong Kong.
As I went through these exciting career changes, I came to look back upon the years that have passed, reflecting on important moments and situations.
One of these important moments was coming out to my colleagues.
I can remember this day, like it was yesterday, even though it was already back in September 2005. It was just a few months after joining the company, and I was in Cambodia on my first (ever) business trip with a colleague. After a full day spent in customer meetings, we ended up grabbing a drink and talking about our personal lives at a nearby bar.
The question that I was half-expecting – and half-dreading – came up: “do you have a girlfriend back home?”
In that moment, I had a split-second to decide: either I make something up (by pretending to be single) or I’m completely upfront about it. At that point, I decided I didn’t want to enter my first “real job” with a lie – so I went for the latter: “No, not a girlfriend. A boyfriend.”
I’m glad I did.
Not only was I able to be myself with the people I work with every day, it would also have been emotionally taxing and limiting my full potential to not share fully who I am.
It’s important that I’m part of a company that accepts me. By bringing awareness and using inclusive language, it allows not only me, but all my colleagues to feel comfortable to speak about themselves openly.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, working for Nokia is full of possibilities.
I’ve not seen any other company that will offer this kind of freedom to its employees, which in turn makes the workplace incredibly diverse.