Amy Haddon is a proud LGBT+ ally at Schneider Electric

Amy Haddon is a proud LGBT+ ally at Schneider Electric

 July 15, 2019

Amy Haddon leads the global communications, engagement, and marketing efforts for renewable energy and clean tech at Schneider Electric Energy and Sustainability Services. She is also an ally for the LGBT+ community.

Amy shares what it's like to be an LGBT+ ally, the ways others can demonstrate allyship in their lives, and how Schneider Electric has created a diverse and inclusive workplace for all.

The start of Amy's journey as an LGBT+ ally 

When Amy was 16 years old, a close friend gave her a powerful gift that started her journey as an ally to the LGBT+ community.

"In a quiet moment, he very timidly, almost secretively, told me that his mom was gay. He had never told anyone this before but trusted me enough to share something that was both deeply personal and deeply terrifying," she explains.

"I remember sitting there quietly, listening, hearing the anguish and trepidation in his voice. When he was finished, I told him that I cared about him, gave him a hug, and let him know that he could count on me to love him - and his mom and her partner - just as much as I ever had. In that moment, I learned what it was to be an ally. It was an experience that would shape the rest of my life."

That was the first coming out moment that Amy would be privy to, but it wasn’t her last. The fear her friend had experienced to reveal something so personal touched Amy deeply. She didn’t want anyone else she knew to feel that they had to hide themselves, their family, or anything about their lives from Amy for fear of feeling ashamed, judged, or rejected.

"The more urgent this feeling became to me, the more I realized how important it was that I do something about it," she says. "So, I got active in the LGBT+ rights movements, learned more about how our power and privilege can oppress others, and worked to share what I learned with the people around me - including my children. Most importantly, though, I kept listening. And accepting. And loving."

The importance of understanding and respecting others

Amy admits that she did not initially set out to be an ally. She didn’t decide one day that it was who she was or that it was the right thing to do. Amy came to that conclusion because she believes being a human means working to understand and respect other humans.

"And I don’t say this in a 'color blind' way. Being respectful of others doesn’t mean ignoring difference - it means working to identify and appreciate difference. It means recognizing that there are parts of me that give me advantages over others - my white skin, my relative affluence, my ability, my national origin - and that it is a responsible use of that advantage - which I did nothing to earn - to apply it to helping others without the same power or privilege," she adds.

"Being an ally is one of the critical things I can do and can be - especially as a leader. Providing a safe space for others to be themselves, for them to show up at work and in life as they authentically are, no matter how they are, is part of what I strive for every day."

LGBT+ allies Schneider Electric

Six pieces of valuable advice for LGBT+ allies

For Amy, helping others to become allies if also part of her work. Amy outlines the six ways people can practice allyship in their own lives, including in the workplace, among family, in school, in the community, in a faith congregation, or anywhere else where there's engagement with other people.

Firstly, Amy urges people to simply listen: "One of the greatest gifts you can give someone that is different from you is your attention. Particularly when someone is sharing personally of themselves, or expressing how they experience the world, the most valuable thing you can do is to listen - openly, without judgment, and with the mind of a beginner," she says.

An ally also has to practice acknowledgment and acceptance. "We live in extremely divisive times, when opposing opinions have the power to drive whole communities apart, or to violence. Practicing the acknowledgement and acceptance of someone who is different from you - fully and completely, as they are - is a profound experience," Amy adds.

Amy also wants people to themselves. She believes that it is not up to someone else to educate you about their experience. Instead, any ally has to take it upon themselves to the jargon, read the biographies, attend the rallies, know the history, expand their horizons, ask the questions and, most importantly, listen to the answers.

Next, allies should understand how they show up in the world. For Amy, this means unpacking their own advantages - in the form of power and privileges - which can be a valuable means of learning to understand others and their impact on them. 

"Most of us aren’t aware of how and when we exercise our own privileges. By learning more about the 'isms', and the advantages that we receive through our own majority status, we become sensitized to when and where we can use that advantage for the benefit of others - and when our own behavior might be keeping others down," explains Amy.

Amy believes an ally must also use their own voice. It's not enough to just say they're an ally - they have to be an ally too, because allyship is an active thing. For Amy, it means identifying as an ally, standing with oppressed persons, speaking out when discrimination is happening, building trust through the congruity of words and actions, owning advantages and privileges and using them to dismantle systems of oppression.

Finally, Amy adds that being an ally is not about you. "Being an ally takes a wrong turn when it becomes about us and not about the person we are standing with or for. If you’re not sure, ask yourself about your motivations," she says. "Are you self-aggrandizing or looking for recognition or reward? Are you using being an ally to control or 'save' others? Are you priding yourself on how 'woke' you are?"

Proud to work for an inclusive and diverse company

Part of why Amy feels proud to be a Schneider Electric employee is because of the company's commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

"We value difference in its myriad forms and working here allows me to openly express not only who I am, but also my passion for welcoming and including others as they are," she explains.

"At Schneider, I get to practice being an ally every day by providing an example for others and by helping to build a workplace that is free and equal for all. It’s work that is not a destination – it is a continual, and in my case life-long, path of self-discovery, testing, growing, and learning. It’s never too late to begin, and the rewards are too numerous to count!"

Join progressive employer Schneider Electric

How could you make a difference through a career at Schneider Electric? The company seeks out employees who reflect the diversity of the communities in which they operate. 

Learn more about Schneider Electric's job vacancies and see where your career could take you.


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