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Proud @ CEB

28 June, 2016

By Rajiv Desai

It was June 2007 when I finally accepted my sexuality at the age of 27 and “came out of the closet” – to a very accepting group of family and friends who unconditionally loved me for who I am.

It was June 2015 when I witnessed the legalization of same-sex marriage after the US Supreme Court ruled that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

This June 2016, I attended several vigils and community discussions in response to the horrific crime in Orlando, Florida where 49 lives were taken in an attack at a gay night club.

June is officially Pride month in cities around the world and it continues to be a month of ambivalent emotions for me – one filled with pride and celebration of the achievements CEB has made as a company, but also another filled with anticipation about the work that remains to be done across the LGBT community.

When I first joined CEB, I didn’t know what to expect regarding my sexuality and the workplace. While I didn’t explicitly reveal it, I quickly got the impression that it would be completely fine if I did. A fellow male co-worker mentioned his husband in several conversations and another brought his boyfriend to a work event. These served as my initial signals that the culture at CEB was one of acceptance.

Then I learned of CEB Pride which was established in October 2014 to promote equality and inclusion for the LGBT community in the work place. The original team, small but mighty, worked hard to get CEB Pride off the ground with several quick wins.

Seeing the momentum, I wanted to get involved and took on the role of Community Service Chair. In this role, I helped identify which DC-based LGBT-focused organizations we would support and landed on SMYAL as the organization of choice. During Global Impact Week in 2015-a weeklong effort aimed at bringing the spirit of generosity to our local communities through various acts of service- I helped coordinate a volunteer event where 15 of us spent half a day at the SMYAL office helping out with various activities. The success of this event led me to plan another round with them in 2016 and also to expand our efforts by adding Whitman-Walker Health to the list of volunteer event organizations.

Whitman Walker GIW

In 2015 and 2016, CEB Pride also participated in the Capital Pride 5K race which generously supports SMYAL and other LGBT-focused organizations in the DC area.

CEB Pride Run 5K

My pride for being a part of CEB was galvanized by one particular event in 2015. During Pride celebrations, we organized a happy hour that was attended by CEB Pride members and allies, including none other than our chairman and CEO Tom Monahan. I not only got a chance to meet Tom in-person but also had a lovely conversation about my experience of coming out. At the same event , one of my non-CEB friends’ companies was also hosting their LGBT affinity group event. When I told him our CEO is here as well, his response was, “Wow Rajiv, you’re lucky to be in a workplace like CEB.” Enough said!

During 2015, with overwhelming support from executive leadership, our efforts paid off and CEB scored a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) 2016 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). I continued to speak about CEB Pride and our efforts to all my colleagues and friends – all of whom were supportive, wanted to get involved, and attend the events.

Given my background, I am particularly proud of CEB India announcing that we added same-gender domestic partner benefits to the India employee medical plan. CEB is on the vanguard in providing such coverage in India. I am excited to also begin working closely with our India HR team to launch CEB Pride there, as a signal to employees on the inclusiveness of CEB worldwide.

We learned a lot last year and 2016 continues to be packed with activities, community events, and corporate developments. Check back in to this blog for regular updates about what CEB Pride and our other diversity and inclusion affinity groups are doing throughout the year.

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