This pride month, OneHaas featured EMBA 18 alumna, Allie Foote at the Crossroads Series. If you haven’t listened to the podcast yet, take a look at these highlights. She talks about lessons she’s learned from the work she’s done as the Director of Digital Strategy at Nike and co-chair of Pride Network, its ERG for its LGBTQIA+ community.

Eighty-one countries, including the U.S., prohibit discrimination in employment because of sexual orientation. But, according to a study from Catalyst, almost half (46%) of LGBTQIA+ workers can’t bring their full selves to work.

Allie Foot shares some of the tips that helped her succeed in the workplace.

Show Your True Self

Allie talks about how most of her heterosexual counterparts didn’t have to hold back about talking about their personal relationships, employees from the queer community are challenged by being accepted and acknowledged with their correct pronoun. She emphasized how many people come to work hiding pieces of themselves, trying to switch from their personal to professional persona. Bringing your athletic self to work, will make you happier and more productive. This will help you become more innovative and creative.

“I think so many people are spending so much energy and time and brain space in the workplace hiding pieces of themselves. I think that being able to bring your authentic self to work is so critical for both your mental health. There’s so much research out there that shows that diverse teams come up with the best solutions. I think for me, I’ve been so lucky that I’ve always felt like I could show up authentically as myself. I try to do that because I’ve just heard so many stories and so many people that have not been able to do that. I think that allowing people to kind of come out of their shells shows them that it’s accepted and it’s okay. My goal is to show up who I am at work the same way I am outside of work.”

Use Your Gut Instinct; But Learn from Others

While most times we already know what we want, it’s important to talk about your career plans with people coming from a different perspective. Allie talked about how she took advantage of the alumni and student network at Haas before she left PwC. She knew she wanted to work at Nike but she also tried to plan ahead by understanding her options. She reached out to her Haas community to ask about their own career journey and learned from their experiences as well. 

“I knew that we had a career management group that would lead us through different exercises to think about what we might want to be doing next. And so I just made a commitment that I would do all of those. It’s amazing to just think about what I enjoy in my job, right? Where do I want to be going next? It was set up with external career consultants. So I worked with her and had several sessions. I also did a ton of informational interviews. So I think I did over 60 informational interviews. I think, like 10 different companies and a few different areas of business I might be interested in. I found various Haas alumni that I could reach out to and speak with. And I was honestly super impressed with the response that I got. Almost every person said yes, and pretty quickly. I found those conversations to help me kind of narrow in and target and so that’s really what it came down to. There was a student in that class who was at Nike and I started chatting with her. When I applied, I let her know, and I think she sent a note to HR recruiting, just to say “Hey, just flagging the resume”, so that hopefully someone read it. A week or two later I had a phone screen.”

Trust the Process

Allie shared how she’s got the word Trust, to symbolize how she let and allowed the process to take over. She emphasized how letting things that are meant to be, to be as they are. While she hopes to be at Nike forever, she’s focusing her energies on building her toolbox, looking at what she’s going to do next and what she’s going to learn from in her projects. That way, she’s able to maximize her experiences. 

“I have a very strong belief in faith that whatever’s supposed to happen is going to happen. And the universe just has a plan out there that I don’t know… I’ve just continued to follow what I’m passionate about and what I believe in. Being able to do that both from the kind of my career, in my day job has put me in a really incredible place with an incredible company. So I think just kind of seeing the process go with the flow, know it’s gonna work out, work hard, learn a lot. Show up as yourself.”

At the end of the day, accepting one’s true self is key to success. Not holding back does wonder for your creativity and gives you a broader insight into life. Allie shares one tip she does to help show others she’s accepted who she is. Remember how she highlighted the challenges with pronouns? She introduces herself with the correct pronouns to help others address her correctly and let them know she’s a safe space and they can share things with her. Brilliant right?

If you were inspired by Allie’s story, make sure to listen to the full episode.

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