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 first spotlight in June, Cincinnati consultant, Anuja, sat down with Philip Gustin-Helms, Executive Assistant from SEI Boston, about what Pride Month means to him, how he navigated his career, and what he swears by to remain comfortable in his own skin.
Why is Pride Month important to you?
Pride Month has always held a special place in my heart. In my younger years (they weren’t THAT long ago, were they?) Pride Month was filled with special events, parades, and basking in the general spirit of the community. It’s a time to celebrate everyone’s individuality and spread love. While those cherished celebrations still remain, now having a husband of 4 years and a 1-year-old son, Pride Month offers me the time to truly reflect and appreciate the opportunities I’ve been afforded to be where I am today.
Pride began as a riot – and while I’d love to say it’s all a party now, there’s still much work to be done to obtain and secure equality and the freedom to love freely. Love is love is love!
When you started your career, did you face challenges in growing and navigating your career path? How did you overcome these barriers?
I feel that I’ve been fortunate enough to have a career path in which my sexual orientation has not created any additional barriers. While there have been some uncomfortable exchanges, I don’t feel that either my employment or career were ever in jeopardy. Unfortunately, there are still far too many places where simply being queer can lead to termination of employment. Creating an open and accepting workplace is such an important part of ensuring successful career paths for members of the queer community.
When did you know that SEI was the place for you?
Having recently moved from Florida to Rhode Island (and at the time, still working remotely for a company in Florida), I knew establishing a community of friends and colleagues in New England would take time. Almost serendipitously, I was contacted by a recruiter at SEI, and within two months, I was preparing for my first day here – and returning to work after 4 months of parental leave.
From the first SEI event I attended until now, I’ve always felt that I could be my authentic self. I’ve never felt the need or pressure to hide my sexual orientation or to not discuss my family. Having the support of my colleagues has truly made me feel at home here at SEI and contributes to the successes that I hope to continue on my career path.
How would you like SEI to support you and other LGBTQ+ colleagues as well as the community?
Visibility and representation are paramount – and not only during Pride Month. While it is absolutely important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of queer colleagues, it’s also important for any marginalized community to see themselves reflected in every level of an organization and have leaders engaging with and participating in initiatives.
What part of SEI’s DE&I journey are you most proud of?
Speaking on a local level, I’m so proud of our Boston office for how dedicated we are to our Courageous Conversations and the participation each one of them receives. In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to take a moment to listen to others’ stories and experiences. Learning and stepping out of your comfort zone is a crucial part of accepting others.
What is the one thing you’ve learned throughout your life that you abide by?
Always presenting and being my authentic self has set me up for success in my personal and professional life and helped me be comfortable in my own skin.