Citi Marks Pride Month 2015 – Part 1
June 08, 2015 04:15 PM
In recognition of Pride Month, a time to reflect upon the civil rights history and contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, we will be sharing personal reflections and stories of progress from individuals, both LGBT and straight allies, as they examine what it means to bring their full self to work.
Antonio “Tony” Castanon, Managing Director, Citi Retail Services
When I am transparent and authentic, I bring my full self to work.
Today I am a beacon for self-expression and authenticity. But not long ago, I was at a very different place in my life. My journey spans 30 years of denying and suppressing who I was and how I felt about being accepted by other communities of people. I have learned that living out of harmony with my true inner-self is damaging to the soul, as well as just plain exhausting!
I look back at so many missed opportunities to share with colleagues and friends those special moments in my life, which I kept suppressed for fear of the “unknown”, the unknown being what would others think, do, or react if they learned this about me?
I still remember the small steps I took on my road to authenticity and how each time I told my story, at each stage, I was met with unconditional support and acceptance. The untold heroes in my life were those who listened to my story, when I was most vulnerable, and welcomed the “new” me in their lives without judgment or prejudice. I celebrate the unique gift of those who support others that are different by listening and understanding that what makes us truly great are our differences.
I fully accept the responsibility of being visible to those who struggle with transparency and live in fear of being their true authentic self in the work place. I can make a difference by telling my story of how I overcame what seemed at the time to be an insurmountable fear of acceptance.
Barbara Dondarski, Director, Enterprise Supply Chain Operations, EMEA – Hungary, Budapest
When I talk about my wife and kids, I bring my full self to work.
Nervous. Apprehensive. Excited. Challenged.
These feelings describe how each of us feels every day at Citi. You face new problems, new subjects and new opportunities to find solutions to the challenges faced by your team. These work related tasks are handled in a professional, non-confrontational way. They are common, normal, regular issues that you share with others, and work to resolve in a cooperative environment.
What I find more challenging, though, is when I work with new people, and need to build those relationships. You start by having conversations, by introducing yourself in a team meeting. In these situations, everyone is talking about their time at Citi, their functional role, and about their family. Their husband, wife, children.
You face the challenge: What do you share?
So you ask yourself: “Am I in a “safe” environment?”, “Can I trust that everyone will accept me as my authentic self?”, “Can I talk about my wife?”, “What cultural concerns do I have?”
When working in the U.S., there seemed to be a general acceptance, at least in the corporate environment, to be “out.” Now that I am based in Budapest, I realize the cultural “rules” could be different, given the wide variety of people I encounter within the team here, in a different country.
I am at my best when I can share stories of my family with people, when I share with them that my wife and I, along with our daughter, made a choice to move to Budapest, to continue to develop our careers and family in a new place. We value the decision we made, as it has allowed us to experience new cultures and travel to cities across Europe. It has been a wonderful personal and professional decision to be here, and without the support of my family, it would not have been possible.