Saturday, November 11, 2017

It gives me hope

Anika is an Indian-born market researcher who has worked at my agency for four years now. Early in her career here, she sat outside the office I share with my coworkers and did the most wonderful thing: she surprised me with a Christmas present for being "the most thoughtful person I've ever had the good fortune of knowing. You spread holiday cheer year around." Because she sees me that way, I work hard to be a good person, to live up to her expectation.

This past week, she showed what an extraordinary woman she is.

She's been researching marketing to the LGBTQ community, which is important to our clients because demographically-speaking, gay HHs have an impressive amount of disposable income. Yet while she was collecting data, she worried she was missing nuance. After all, she grew up in India, where homosexuality is still illegal. Since she's been in Chicago, she's watched us all become more accepting and welcoming, but she doesn't know a single "out" LGBTQ American.

Without any prompting, she approached our HR department and asked how to find a gay coworker to help her craft a more sensitive and inclusive presentation. Her request gave Human Resources a pause. Sexuality is not a box to be ticked on any form. But they put Anika in touch with Andy, a numbers-cruncher at one of our sister agencies, who is out and proud and just thrilled to be involved with something more creative than monthly billing.

Anika and Andy's presentation was well attended (yes, lunch was provided) and sensitive. At times, I welled up. Partly because of the content -- I was thinking of my friends John and Henry and Reg and the obstacles they have faced, and how far our society has come in accepting them. Partly because of the fact of it.

I mean, here was Anika. Reaching out. Going beyond her upbringing, working hard to assimilate into her chosen country and to open her heart. I find this so moving, and it gives me hope.


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