Inclusivity really matters – How to make a work environment safe and inclusive for all
Christian Lynn·Jun 06, 2024

Inclusivity really matters – How to make a work environment safe and inclusive for all

Christian Lynn
Staff Writer
Jun 06, 2024 · 5 min read
How to make a work environment safe and inclusive for all | TomTom Newsroom

During an average day of your working life, you may feel included and comfortable in your own skin. However, there are many of you – specifically in the LGBTQIA+ community – who may not feel this way, toning down or hiding who you are, even though it’s something to be proud of. I interviewed Tomas Cafferata, Director of Product Management, about the importance of safety and inclusivity in the workplace, what more can be done, and what TomTom is doing to make a difference.

The problem facing the LGBTQIA+ community in the workplace is very complex. Tomas specifically calls out the difference between the words “unsafe” and “non-inclusive.” Feeling unsafe at work can be because of “harassment and macroaggressions,” such as verbal discrimination and deadnaming. Non-inclusivity is more subtle. Unconscious biases and behaviors, such as microaggressions, contribute to an overall feeling that a company or its people are not fully invested in making sure everyone feels included.  Tomas makes it clear that despite their difference, “both sides of the spectrum lead to stress and mental health challenges for people who identify as LGBTQIA+.” And that’s why it’s so important that the problem is acknowledged.  

Why safety and inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community matters 

It’s easy to resort to grand statements when discussing why safety and inclusivity matter. Yet it’s better to see how important it is within the context of an average day that a non-LGBTQIA+-identifying person might take for granted. 

Tomas mentions how “we spend a third of our lives working. If you spend that time having to hide yourself, it takes up a lot of energy and effort, leading to a negative impact on work.” It’s up to any company to ensure that an environment feels inclusive and that everyone can be themselves.  
 
In terms of safety, there’s also the possibility that someone faces aggression, unwanted comments, or even the simplest of judgmental looks because of someone’s sexuality, gender and/or physical appearance. 

A day at work should be easy. But if the working environment is non-inclusive and/or unsafe, people can feel invisible, uncomfortable and unable to focus or progress at work. On this point, Tomas tells part of his own story: 

“Personally, during the first years of my career, I didn’t feel comfortable being open about my identity, and it significantly impacted my ability to connect with my colleagues and maximize my impact. It made me insecure, and I used to feel drained after work and avoided social situations with colleagues.”

Tomas Cafferata

Luckily, Tomas now feels like he can “be authentic in TomTom, which has helped me with my journey of self-acceptance and empowered me to bring my best self to work.” And while this may not be the case in every workplace, things can be done and are being done to make a difference, including by people outside of the LGBTQIA+ community.  

Keeping the progress moving 

Tomas calls attention to the progress already made across the world. “There have been significant changes in the last few years,” he admits, “as we’re moving past simply changing the logo to a rainbow. Stronger stances are being taken in defense of our rights.”  There’s still a long way to go though in recognizing the LGBTQIA+ community all around the world. Yet, even the smallest of actions by allies can make an impact on the global acceptance, inclusion and safety of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly within the workplace. Tomas acknowledges that “any extra support the LGBTQIA+ community can get is important for visibility.” 

tomas-cafferata-photo"I feel like I can be authentic in TomTom, which has helped with my journey of self-acceptance..." – Tomas Cafferata, Director of Product ManagementSo, what can be done? Firstly, “you can just add your pronouns on your various social and work media profiles to normalize it for friends, family and beyond,” he says.  

Inclusive language is a big plus in the workplace. Tomas references “folks or people” as alternatives to “guys” when talking to a group, for example. It may seem insignificant in the heat of the moment, but perhaps a member of your team identifies as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. If they were uncomfortable sharing this information before, a small change like this could help that person feel able to be themselves. TomTom encourages these changes, not only through Pride celebrations, but also through a trans inclusion guide, our Rainbow Road LGBTQIA+ employee resource community, gender-neutral bathrooms in renovated offices, and more.  All of these things add up to make the workplace somewhere where everyone can thrive and grow equally. And that’s what all of us deserve at the bare minimum.  

Pride is a positive 

No one should ever feel guilty about being proud of who they are. One of the most fundamental parts of life is being true to oneself, and it’s everyone’s right to feel able to do so. What’s on companies is to create a space where people feel accepted, included and, of course, safe. Pride Month is a fantastic opportunity to ensure this is the case. But, as Tomas underlines, “what is even more important is to make an ongoing commitment to drive changes with policies, training, inclusive benefits, visible leadership support, all year round.”  TomTom’ers are getting that. Yet TomTom is aware it can still do even more.  Want to help TomTom become the standard for inclusive workspaces? Eager to create something with a group of people who reflect the diversity of the world being mapped? Whether you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community or an ally, we welcome you and accept you for who you are.  

If you’d like to learn more about us, use the link below. Otherwise, happy Pride – remember to be you and be proud.  

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