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Stronger Together x Pride: Valeria’s story

Our Stronger Together conversation series shines a light on our inspiring colleagues. Today, we’re hearing from Valeria.

03 Jun 20213 minute read
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Washing hanging up on a clothes line

Our Stronger Together conversation series has celebrated the stories of hundreds of our colleagues, sharing their experiences and what they’ve learnt as they push for change

At Reckitt, we believe that all of our colleagues should be given the Freedom to Succeed. Diversity and inclusion plays a huge role in that. Ensuring that every colleague can bring their true self to the workplace is incredibly important for individuals and the company. So last year, we introduced our Stronger Together conversation series to spark discussion, enact change at Reckitt and to give colleagues the space to learn and grow. Together.

We’ve covered a range of topics during the series and this month, we’ll be shining the spotlight on all things LGBTQ+ to recognise Pride month!

For some, this month is a time to reflect on progress, freedom and equality for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies – as well as a time to recognise the need to keep pushing for true equality for all communities everywhere. For others, it’s a time of celebration, coming together with those they love – something that couldn’t be more important now.

Today, Valeria Valencia (she/her), Pl scientist in Colombia, shares her story as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and explores how society needs to change in order to create a more inclusive space for everyone.

What does Pride mean to you, Valeria?

Pride means to walk the path that you decide to explore, without worrying about not matching society moulds. Pride means breaking boundaries and stereotypes, living true to yourself and being proud of the person that you are.

During your career, what have you seen change in terms of LGBTQ+ matters?

I've seen that some workplaces don't really think about creating a healthy environment where you feel like you can be true to yourself without prejudice. But after I joined Reckitt, I saw how important it was for the company to have a diverse environment. Reckitt creates safe spaces where open conversations about sexuality, gender and race can take place. This support is wonderful because it enables people to feel empowered to be their true selves.

What are some of the most common misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community?

I still find people that think gay men have to be feminine or lesbian women must have a tomboy look, which couldn't be more wrong.

Another misconception is the idea that gender must be related to your reproductive organs and not the way we perceive ourselves.

Additionally, not many people know how diverse this community really is. Within the LGBTQ+ community, there are some groups that are still marginalised. For example, the asexual, pansexual and trans folks don’t have a voice as loud as others in the community.

What more needs to change in society for LGBTQ+ people to feel empowered?

We need a mindset change. A lot of people feel entitled to opine about someone's gender or sexuality as if it’s something that affects them. People need to understand that gender identity and sexual orientation is personal and no one else can have a say on the matter.

We need to erase the heteronormative mindset and get rid of gender and sexual orientation stereotypes.

It is also important to acknowledge that it is not a necessity to put a label to your identity. Labels work for some people but it can be a burden to others. Figuring out our identity is a process, we can change those labels as we grow or we can have none, and this is totally okay.