June is Pride Month, a time when the world’s LGBTQ+ communities come together and celebrate the freedom to be themselves and give tribute to those involved in the Stonewall Riots. Pride gatherings are rooted in a long history of minority groups who have struggled for decades to overcome prejudice and be accepted for who they are. With a multitude of events going on across the globe, there are many opportunities to get involved and learn about LGBTQ+’s history along the way.
For our third June spotlight, Cincinnati consultant Anuja sat down with Laura Clark, Consultant from SEI Boston, about why she’s excited about Pride Month this year, how she’s navigated her career, and who her source of inspiration is.
Why is Pride Month important to you?
Pride Month has always been important to me. While ways in which I have celebrated have evolved over the years, the one thing that has remained constant is celebrating each and every member of my community and the trailblazers before me. Our country has made incredible progress over the years due to those trailblazers, but the month of June equally reflects the significant room we have to grow. Being my authentic self has only presented minor speed bumps for me in my life. June allows me to reflect on how grateful I am for that and how much I want to celebrate those who have not been as fortunate as myself. With about a month and a half to go before my wedding to my fiancé Jen, I am feeling particularly proud, excited, and grateful this Pride Month.
When you started your career, did you face challenges in growing and navigating your career path? How did you overcome these barriers?
I am extremely fortunate that my sexual orientation has not caused major or critical challenges to my career path. While I have worked for organizations where I may have been less accepted from a personal perspective, I can say comfortably that my professional trajectory has not been significantly impacted. With that said, it is of paramount importance for employers today to realize the value and significance of fostering a community and culture of acceptance in the workplace for all members of their workforce. These efforts make the collective whole feel equally comfortable and confident and enable them to contribute their best to the organization and beyond.
When did you know that SEI was the place for you?
To be completely honest, I had a feeling during my interview process that SEI might just be the perfect place for me. However, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop because it all sounded too good to be true. It turns out that the things that intrigued and excited me throughout the interview process came to fruition. Additionally, over the past several years, our company has navigated uncharted waters in so many ways. The special attention to our DE&I journey has made me feel more and more each day that I landed just where I was supposed to.
How would you like SEI to support you and other LGBTQ+ colleagues as well as the community? Is there something you would want colleagues to be aware of?
Representation truly is everything. I echo my colleague and friend Philip Gustin-Helms’ sentiments entirely. When I started out in my career, it was challenging to see myself where I wanted to be because I didn’t necessarily “see” anyone like me in that position or with an organization I envisioned being a part of. I encourage SEI, and all employers, to strive for representation at all levels of an organization — we will all only be better for it.
All my SEI colleagues have been supportive and inclusive, and for that, I will always be grateful. All I’ve ever longed for professionally is to be accepted and treated no differently, for better or worse. More importantly, I’d like all my colleagues to know that their questions are always in a safe space with me, and if I can ever be of any help to them or their families, I am always here.
What part of SEI’s DE&I journey are you most proud of?
I am incredibly proud of SEI’s DE&I journey in many ways. Here in Boston, we’ve done an amazing job of peeling back a layer to better understand who we are as people, our private challenges, and how we can better help one another personally and professionally. This was made possible through our Courageous Conversation series and the open dialogue during our regular DE&I meetings. Additionally, it’s been inspiring to have such a large part of our office engaged in our local and national efforts. It’s not lost on me, and I’m sure many others, that this is something special to be part of.
Who has been your source of inspiration personally and professionally? What is the one thing you’ve learned from them that you abide by?
I have been lucky enough to have a handful of professional mentors throughout my career that it’s almost impossible to pick just one. However, the one constant on both a professional and personal level has been my mother. My Mom, who recently retired, was a devoted social worker for her entire career. For the majority of her life, she dedicated her professional life to helping those less fortunate than herself, particularly refugees and students struggling in the Syracuse City School District. I could wax and wane for hours on how much I admire her intelligence, selflessness, and genuine love for helping those in need, no matter who they are. She has had an extraordinarily admirable, charitable, and accomplished professional life. On a personal note, from childhood, she taught me a lifelong lesson that I strive to live my life by every single day: “Just be kind to one another. Life can be complicated and challenging, but at the end of every day, be thankful for what you have, and be kind.”