I’ve added a pride flag to my CV and here’s why.

“Can I be honest?” he says. “This guy… my gut’s telling me that’s not a good idea. Not that it’s not a good idea, just that it’s not a good idea with him. If you want the job. He’s a bit old school. You know how people are.”

One of the first times I ever went out dressed as a woman, I was dragged out of my car in a McDonalds car park. I know how exactly how people are.”


Okay, it’s no secret that I feel ambivalent towards my current role.

It’s not the hours, nor is it the people (okay, maybe it’s a couple of the people), but I do get frustrated, for two reasons – first, I just want to work with Salesforce to the exclusion of all else; stop handing me paperwork to fill in.

Second, I’ve never felt able to be myself at work.

Given these factors, it should come as no surprise to you that I spend a lot of commutes stuck in traffic on the phone to recruiters. Last week, I was talking to Recruiter X for the fourth or fifth time. He had an opportunity, and for once ADM201 was very much in the desirable column (rather than essential, which is where it is 95% of the time, which sucks when you’re trying to pay for a divorce).

It was an attractive proposition – 160 users, a greenfield – though decidedly vanilla – deployment with the opportunity for professional development that I was seeking.

We’re coming to the end of the conversation when I get asked a very standard question by Recruiter X.

“Are there any special arrangements you need us to make for the interview?”

Which is when, without thinking (which in my experience is the best way to do anything), I shot my shot, and put my own personal wellbeing ahead of my career for once.

I asked him to change the first name on the application from Jack to Jess.

It’s hard saying you’re a trans woman in a professional capacity. In fact, I still find it hard in any capacity – I mean, technically, I still haven’t told you, and you’re quite a way into this post now.

If you’ve ever come out as anything, you’ll know why it’s hard – whoever you’re coming out to will reevaluate both you and their relationship with you, and you’re powerless to do anything other than to rely on the values, understanding and goodwill of the person you’re telling. In this respect, you’re never really done coming out.

Anyway, I’m not out at my current work – I suspect that understanding and goodwill in particular would be in short supply. And in this spur of the moment, I’ve decided that my next employer must know who I am from the outset.

The recruiter takes a breath. In fairness to him, he’s handling it professionally.

“Can I be honest?” he says. “This guy… my gut’s telling me that’s not a good idea. Not that it’s not a good idea, just that it’s not a good idea with him. If you want the job. He’s a bit old school. You know how people are.”

One of the first times I ever went out dressed as a woman, I was dragged out of my car in a McDonalds car park. I know how exactly how people are.

“Of course if you want me to do that, Jack, I will. Not Jack. I mean… you know what I mean.”

So just like that, I told him I wasn’t interested in being closeted in another job role, thanked him for his time and asked me to email any opportunities that would be a good fit.

So tonight, right before writing this, I finished updating my CV with my new personal details (and by the way, a very attractive new colour scheme and layout). And I put a tiny little transgender flag right after my surname, just big enough to be noticeable.

I’ve taken counsel on this from a few friends; HR managers, recruiters, other LGBTQ people.

The general response has been do not do this. People will think you are attention-seeking. Your curriculum vitae is not the place to disclose such information. You will get less callbacks.

I don’t want to be thought of as an attention-seeker, so I’ll admit that gave me pause for thought. But that’s exactly what I want whoever’s looking at my CV to do; pause. Take a moment. If the qualifications and experience looks good, then take a moment.

I want them to consider whether their organisation is right for me, and be really honest with themselves. If I was to go and work there, would I be happy being open and honest about the person I am? Would my existence fit in with your values? Your culture? Your people?

I hope that the answer’s yes, and that they’re suitably impressed with my resume. 

But in this version of 2019, there’s a chance that for whatever reason, their answer’s going to be no. I hope the bullshit response is plausible, and I hope they take the time to give feedback. Yes, it’s discriminatory, but in many ways they’ll have done me a favour; whether they’re passing me over because they don’t like trannies or because they know that your organisation isn’t as hot on equality and diversity as it should be, they’ve taken care of me.

But I hope, if that’s what they decide to do, it gives them pause for thought on what they might be missing out on.

Comments

  1. Allison Park says:

    Thank you for your courage and your inspiration! I am a cis-gendered woman and I don’t want to work someplace where I can’t be my whole self. I’ve been there, done that and it is soul-crushing. I am now at a Consulting Company, Slalom, that stresses bringing your whole, authenticate self. I hope those are not just words and that you find the culture that believes this, too.

    • Jess C says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words Allison. I’m familiar with Slalom’s approach to inclusion and it’s always refreshing to see a company put equality and diversity front and centre.

      Tech’s had that boys club reputation to it, but the active way in which leaders are working to change that is inspiring.

  2. Luke C says:

    Brava! And thank you for sharing your experience. One of the privileges those of us in the Salesforce ecosystem have earned is some leeway in choosing our employment situations and that can be leveraged for the benefit of those who cannot by loudly demanding fair treatment of people across all genetics and choices (e.g. beliefs).

    • Jess C says:

      Hey Luke, I appreciate the encouragement, thanks so much for taking the time to reply. You’re not wrong about the ecosystem playing a part for me – I don’t think I’d honestly be in a position to put myself out there as a trans woman without the knowledge that the Ohana is behind me.

  3. Jeffrey Huang says:

    Congrats on taking this huge step toward authenticity, Jess! You are absolutely right to not want to hide who you are at work any longer. It takes a huge toll (mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, in ALL the ways) to dress as or pretend to be someone who you know you aren’t anymore. When you can go to work as your true self, you’ll be happier and healthier, and you will SOAR.

    Thank you for sharing your story and for your courage. Wishing you all the best in your job search. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!

  4. Paul FN says:

    Jess, what an inspiring post. Thank you for taking the time to share it. I still find it hard to be in 2019 and yet still hear stories like yours. I long for the days when people just employ people (not gay people, or straight people or trans people, just people) because they’re the best fit for the job and no other factors come into play.

    • Jess C says:

      Agreed Paul, everybody just wants the job on their own merits.

      Actually that’s one of my worries with putting this on my CV. I will inevitably wonder if I’m the right candidate or the diversity candidate.

      But on balance, I’d rather someone who didn’t think a trans person was a good fit passed me over when I’m just a name on a page than face to face. Or worse, had reservations but offered the job anyway.

  5. Andy says:

    Hah- oh this is a mood.

    I fell into a lucky nonprofit position where I was able to transition without ‘Talking About It.’ I’m lucky that my name isn’t dysphoric to me, so I just didn’t deal with that at work. But- again we are a nonprofit. Full of LGBTQ2+ people, even in management, but… nonprofit pricing.

    But. I started to do freelance and i started to use my Name. And I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work when I start looking for jobs outside of the one I’m at.

    I don’t disagree with your stance at all- like you, I had a pause when you described putting the flag in your cv, but, it is your own screening. I wouldn’t want to even open dialogue if that gave them pause.

    So- I just wanted to voice my support as another trans individual Jess. Keep us updated.

  6. Eric Dreshfield says:

    Right on! You be you, Jess! If they can’t handle that, it’s not the right place for you, and better you learn that now, as opposed to once you start working there.

    The right role at the RIGHT company is out there for you…keep you head up high, and keep waving that Pride flag!

  7. Kendall Baxter says:

    I’m so proud of everything you are, it’s incredible to see how far you’ve come and I can’t wait to watch how far you can go. Your talent is undeniable and you are beyond inspiring. You do you, you’ll find the perfect opportunity and everything will fall in place. Keep on going girl, you’ve got this x

  8. Rebecca Aichholzer says:

    Hi Jess, I really love your heart, and I’m here to back you; the flag is definitely right for you, and right to do. Stars will ‘ally-ign’ and I know that good karma you are putting out into the world will come right back to you soon.

  9. Justin Gilmore says:

    Being visible is not safe for one person, but only by being our self will we all be safe.

    For three years I worked for for organizations whose mission was to advance LGBT advocacy. I have had the same concerns and thoughts when applying for jobs. However I have used that experience and my experience as a gay man to talk about how I learned to lead and manage change. I am not a highly skilled worker who happens to be gay, I am a highly skilled worker because that I am gay. This is why leaving part of ourselves at the door when we work into work isn’t an option.

    My advice is to go further. Be unafraid to make that direction connection between who you are and what you can do. Thank you for stepping out and stepping up.

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