Celebrating Pride around the world
June 06, 2022
June 06, 2022
Paddy Smith, Cécile Pérès, and Sebastián Carvajal share how they feel safe and valued bringing their authentic selves to work every day
At Stantec, we are committed to creating a safe and inclusive workplace for all our employees. As we celebrate Pride Month this June, three employees from across the globe share how they feel empowered and respected at work knowing Stantec is a safe space to be one’s most authentic self.
As a teenager, I knew being gay was different. I found it hard to reconcile the way I felt versus what I thought I “should” be, as well as what it meant for the future I had imagined for myself. Eventually, I reached a point where I needed to be true to myself and embrace my individuality. It’s been a positive experience since I came out as a gay man, but I still find some moments challenging.
This is because heterosexuality is the presumed norm and when people meet me for the first time, they assume I’m heterosexual too. Recently I heard someone say, “You don’t just come out once in your life—you come out again and again, every day.” It’s true. Each time I meet someone new, I make a judgement call on how and when to share this detail, which is an important part of my identity. I assess who I’m speaking with, what their opinions might be, and how they might react.
At Stantec, I feel I can let my guard down. It’s clear I’m welcomed. Even when I assume people won’t accept me, they prove me wrong. There are plenty of people at all levels of our organization who aren’t LGBTQ+, but support and connect to our community. The fact we can all feel safe to bring our whole selves to work is critical. An inclusive workplace lifts our moods, increases our productivity, and drives positive results.
Because of my father’s job in the oil & gas industry, I moved around the world a lot as a child. After completing studies in France and the United Kingdom, I accepted a marine biology job and decided to settle down for a few years off the coast of Martinique. That opportunity gave me a career, a home, and something else special: My first girlfriend. I quickly realized I wanted to spend my life with her.
We eventually took jobs with employers in a country where cohabitation and displays of affection were forbidden for non-married couples, and homosexuality was illegal. That wasn’t easy for a new couple in love. We had to get a two-bedroom apartment and act as roommates in case the government came to do an inspection. And we had to be careful of how we behaved and what we said.
In general, we managed. Until we wanted to start our family. I was traveling back and forth to Belgium for insemination knowing we’d have to leave immediately if I became pregnant. But where could we go? Our home country of France didn’t yet recognize gay marriage and the overall attitude toward homosexuality wasn’t welcoming.
So, we moved to Montreal, Quebec, and I joined Stantec. Quebec has been the perfect home for us and our beautiful, now-6-year-old son, Louis. Here, we have a close circle of friends and many of those families include same-sex parents. I’ve also found a professional home in Stantec, which has a great culture and is committed to leading the way for inclusion and diversity. When we speak about inclusion at Stantec, we follow our words with actions. This matters for our clients and project work because our diverse workforce and our inclusion efforts helps us better understand and serve our communities. Diversity makes sense—this is how it’s supposed to be.
I have been openly gay for more than 20 years, but I’ve kept a low profile in the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve not been actively involved in LGBTQ+ organizations. I don’t take part in parades, and I rarely attend other events. This isn’t because I’m hesitant to express who I am. Rather, it’s because I’ve considered my sexual orientation so natural that I don’t need to advertise it. I’ve never felt uncomfortable with friends, family, or colleagues. However, in certain settings, homosexuality can still be a sensitive topic where some—including me—might prefer to tread more lightly at times.
Society is made up of different types of people. We have physical and emotional differences, varying creeds, nationalities, religions, gender identities, and more. The thing is, we all function as humans in similar ways. We have partners, children, and jobs. And above all else, we want to be happy, aiming for a life full of achievements and personal satisfaction.
Last March, Chile approved same-sex marriage. This August, I’ll marry my civil partner of six years. I appreciate that Stantec is a place where my colleagues can share my joy, a place where we respect diversity as an essential pillar of human relations. Respecting and valuing all our differences helps us be more empathetic and results in a better, fairer society for everyone.
In support of LGBTQ+ inclusion, Stantec has formed key partnerships with organizations like Workplace Pride, Rainbow Tick, and Stonewall to understand how the Company can best support everyone and continue to lead the way in the industry. Recently, our CEO Gord Johnston signed the Declaration of Amsterdam to reinforce the Company’s unwavering commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
Stantec also formalized a Global Pride Committee, which is a new addition to the Company’s Inclusion and Diversity Council structure. The Committee helps advance LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity across the Company by recommending ways to make Stantec’s policies and practices more inclusive and coordinating LGBTQ+ partnerships and programs, all while supporting Stantec’s 14 Pride@Stantec employee resource groups around the world.
We wish everyone around the world a very happy Pride Month.