Proofpoint Celebrates Pride Month 2024: Week 1

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At Proofpoint, our people—and the range of their experiences, perspectives and work skills—drive our success. We embrace and foster the diversity of our team members, customers and stakeholders. Everyone is valued and appreciated for their lifestyles, thoughts and talents, all of which contribute to the growth and sustainability of our business and the strength of our communities.  

To support our diverse workforce, Proofpoint has Employee Inclusion Groups (EIGs). Our EIG communities serve as structured, employee-led organizations that are formally recognized and integrated into the fabric of our company. EIGs cultivate compelling conversations, workshops and activities. And they empower our employees to learn from one another and express their authentic selves.  

Our Pride EIG provides an environment that encourages others through shared experiences and fosters support across recruitment, career development, community outreach, professional growth and retention initiatives.  

In many countries, Pride Month is an annual and monthlong global celebration. Proofpoint stands with the LGBTQIA+ community each and every day. But we also join the world each June to recognize and celebrate the importance of inclusion and diversity at our company and in our communities.  

As part of our Pride celebration, we are excited to feature an employee who has volunteered to participate as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or as an Ally. This blog post features Alexis Culp, a remote senior sales engineer based in Oregon. 

Alexis Culp

Alexis Culp, Senior Sales Engineer 

What does Pride Month mean to you? 

Pride represents my freedom of expression. Let’s take a journey back in time. I came out in high school, around 1993. Some public events had a very formative impact on my life during this decade. Ellen DeGeneres came out and her show was canceled, signaling it was not safe to be LGBTQIA+ in the workplace. Matthew Shepard was out and proud, and for being himself, for being LGBTQIA+, he was a victim of a hate crime. He was left for dead after being brutally beaten, signaling it wasn’t safe to be LGBTQIA+ in public. 

My first Pride celebration was in San Francisco, and it was the first time in my life I felt comfortable holding my girlfriend’s hand in public. It was actually the first time I realized I wasn’t alone. It was the first time I felt safe being LGBTQIA+ in public.  

Over the years I have come to look forward to June as a time to celebrate all the hurdles that we have overcome in our community. I celebrate having the legal rights to be able to be married to my wife and to have healthcare coverage that meets LGBTQIA+ needs.  

I also see Pride Month as a reminder to never stop fighting for equality and freedom! There are still countries where being LGBTQIA+ is illegal and punishable by law. There are six countries that, as I type this, impose the death penalty for being LGBTQIA+. That means we still have work to do so that more people in our community can feel safe and comfortable.  

What LGBTQIA+ historical figures or contemporary heroes do you find interesting or inspiring? 

Staying with my 1990s theme, I am going to pick Pedro Zamora. Pedro was a young gay Cuban man, who was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 17. At that time, there was a lot of miseducation about HIV/AIDS and, as such, Pedro decided to dedicate his life to AIDS education.  

In 1994, Pedro was cast in MTV’s “The Real World,” widely considered the first modern reality TV show. Pedro was one of the first openly gay and HIV+ people on TV. Pedro was also married on TV to his partner, whom he met during the show.  

America fell in love with Pedro. He was a lovable young man whose efforts educated many about HIV/AIDS. He used his disease as a platform to shed light and reshape the conversations people had about the disease. In my opinion, by choosing to put himself out there, Pedro saved countless lives. 

What does it mean to you that Proofpoint is celebrating Pride Month? 
It means everything. Over the years, I have come to realize that I only want to work for employers that promote equality. Being able to show up as your authentic self at work is critical when you need to collaborate. The issues we face as human beings outside of the workplace are also present in the workplace, whether we like it or not.  

To create an environment of belonging where people can be their authentic selves, we must collaborate, we have to talk, we have to listen, we have to understand and reflect. All of this develops a better workplace culture.  

Proofpoint celebrating Pride helps to create a culture where we are all comfortable having uncomfortable conversations around LGBTQIA+ issues, encouraging all Proofpoint employees to bring their whole authentic selves to the workplace and to feel safe doing so. 

What tips do you have to foster an inclusive environment where everyone is valued and can bring their whole selves to work? 

My tip is to create affinity groups where people from any background can join. Diversity and inclusion work well to engage and attract employees. Keeping that talent happy and continuously engaged involves fostering a culture where everyone is valued, and that is one of belonging.  

A few quotes that have always resonated with me on the concept of belonging comes from DEI pioneer Vernā Myers: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.” And LaFawn Davis said, “Belonging is knowing all the songs. Knowing all the songs goes beyond simply being invited to the party; you feel like you belong there.” We all know that feeling when our song is playing.  

Affinity groups can come in many forms. They can be unofficial, like a book club, a group of gamers, folks with dogs, folks with kids—the list goes on. At Proofpoint, we have EIGs that are open to all employees. It is one of the many things that attracted me to join Proofpoint. At Proofpoint, I have that feeling when I come to work—like my song is playing on the radio. I belong.  

To learn more about Proofpoint and our employee culture, follow #LifeAtProofpoint on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and X.