At Proofpoint, our people - and the diversity of their lived experiences, backgrounds, thinking, perspectives, and work skills - are the driving force behind much of our success. 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.
June is a month-long global celebration of Pride every year in many countries. While we as a company stand with the LGBTQIA+ community each and every day, we join the world each June to recognize and celebrate the importance of inclusion and diversity at our company and in our communities.
This month, we are excited to run our inaugural Pride at Proofpoint blog series, where each week, we feature an employee who has volunteered to participate as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or as an Ally.
This week’s post features Eric Chaves, Senior Sales Engineer, based remotely in Maine.
What does Pride mean to you?
Pride means celebration and it means community. Pride means being comfortable in your own skin and recognizing that differences are beautiful.
When I think of Pride, it is important to recognize why it exists, those who laid the groundwork, and the reason we celebrate it annually. Simply put, it’s about basic rights! It’s a reminder that this is a continuous journey, and it doesn’t just end as certain milestones are reached with such things as gay marriage, having it federally accepted and being open in the workplace. It’s about helping to advocate and support basic rights for those who are marginalized.
Why do we celebrate Pride month?
We have come a long way in the progress that has been made yet we still have a long way to go. When we look back on history and the negative things on social media or in the news sphere – such as gay-rights and more recently, trans-rights under assault, these are a reminder on why celebrating Pride month is so important. It’s about continuing to bring awareness, education, and support. These are reasons why we have parades and raise the Pride flag, so we can reflect and continue to help those around us who need help coming out and being comfortable in their own skin.
What is one of your favorite attributes about the LGBTQIA+ community?
You find a lot of diversity within the LGBTQIA+ community, and one of my favorite things about that is even though we are all different, there is a sense of community that is very supportive of one another, which you know you can lean on. I have found such strong bonds and life-long friends within this community.
When I was coming out, I had somewhat of a difficult time feeling comfortable with letting people know and feeling accepted without feeling judged. I was out to a few friends in college who were very supportive, but when I moved away after college and had to make new friends and start a new job and new life, it was initially difficult. When I found this community and how open, loving and supportive it is, I really blossomed and I felt accepted and okay with myself. Also, seeing people like myself helped me tremendously not to feel alone.
Being an adult and realizing the importance of community is one thing, but being a teenager adds even more complexity, which is one of the reasons why I’ve recently begun to support a 14-year-old I know who is on their journey with their own gender identity. I was excited to introduce them to this loving, supportive community I hoped could help during such a critical time in their life. This month I invited them to experience this community for themselves at Portland, Maine Pride to hopefully see they are not alone, and they loved it!
What does “acceptance” look and feel like, particularly at work?
Acceptance at work to me looks and feels like being comfortable, having open dialog with my colleagues and management and being able to bring my authentic self to work. When I started at Proofpoint, I was very transparent about being gay and being out. From what I knew about the culture and inclusivity, I had no hesitation in sharing who I am because it would be a non-issue. I’ve had a great experience here at Proofpoint - everything about the culture here helps me to feel accepted; from being very communicative, like in our weekly town halls, to all of our diversity initiatives, as well as the positivity, openness, and having a good work/life balance.
Some other companies talk about having a cool, great culture, but it’s actually a reality here - Proofpoint lives that.
What’s something you think people can do, especially during Pride Month, to gain awareness about important issues impacting the global LGBTQIA+ community?
Many things are available, not just to individuals who are part of the community but to allies as well. Join a local Pride event in your city/town or even online. Pick up a book on the history of why Pride is celebrated, understand the history of the Stonewall Riots and how that relates to current-day challenges (trans rights, new and unreasonable restrictive laws, book-banning).
But beyond just looking at it on TV or reading about it, I encourage people to go out and live it! By experiencing some of these activities first-hand, I think it really helps someone to gain a better understanding and awareness, which in turn helps them to be a better supporter, a better advocate and a better ally.
When you walk in someone’s shoes who is different from you and try to see things from their perspective, it’s a powerful way to show allyship and show them they are loved!
#PrideAtProofpoint2022 #PrideAtProofpoint #LifeAtProofpoint
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