How inclusion is the secret to workplace happiness.
Jan. 11, 2019 | As told to TEKsystems by Jordan Dahlheimer
Do a quick Google search to prep for a job interview and you’ll find hundreds of ways to mentally plan. What questions to expect. What responses to provide. And about 188,000,000 results for what to wear. But one thing that doesn’t show up? Advice that Jordan Dahlheimer personally received from someone close: hide that you’re gay.
Dahlheimer was already dealing with the typical stress that goes along with job hunting. But to add to his worry, he was also dealing with the idea that companies may discriminate against him for being gay. So, he covered it up.
Dodging any personal questions and making sure his answers were general enough to not give himself away, Dahlheimer was painfully distracted during interviews across multiple companies. He found it hard to concentrate while covering such a big part of himself, avoiding answers that revealed he participated in pride events or had a boyfriend, trying to avoid pronouns when describing anything.
But during his interview at TEKsystems, he found himself at a crossroads.
While talking with the director of business operations in our Minneapolis office, Dahlheimer followed his standard pattern of sidestepping potentially revealing questions. When asked to describe a time he had overcome adversity, Dahlheimer offered up a polished, but generic, answer. Yet, building strong relationships and understanding people is something TEKsystems not only advertises, but truly believes in. The director pressed him for a more meaningful answer.
Dahlheimer hesitated, then chose to take a risk. If he was rejected this time, at least he would know he’d been honest. He explained how he was openly gay and that it had been met with some negative reactions. Then he paused and waited for yet another one.
What he heard was nothing short of a revelation.
He was so supportive,” Dahlheimer recalls, “and started telling me about all these inclusion and diversity initiatives TEKsystems had, and how the company culture was super open and supportive. And then he moved right on to the next question like it wasn’t an issue at all.
Dahlheimer began working at TEKsystems as a recruiter in 2015. He steadily worked his way up to an account manager in our Denver office, all while completely being his authentic self—and therefore, his best self.
"Going into TEKsystems, I knew I was going to work for a company that loves me for me and not something I’m pretending to be,” says Dahlheimer. “It’s an added stress or anxiety to hide that part of yourself as much as possible, and it would have definitely hindered my growth if I had ended up at a company that didn’t value diversity or inclusion like TEKsystems does."
The confidence he received from being open and authentic empowered Dahlheimer to be productive and driven. He got involved with our Inclusion and Diversity team, leading several pride events for his office and lending support to the LGBTQ rights movement in his area. He helps his office volunteer in parades, sponsor events and raise money for pride fundraisers.
Jordan Dahlheimer (standing, third from left) volunteers at Minneapolis Pride with his office in 2017.
But some of the most impactful work he’s done since working at TEKsystems? Building amazingly strong relationships with the IT consultants he works with.
“Since I can be my true self, I can share my story [of working] with TEKsystems, and then [my consultants] feel like they can be their true selves, too,” says Dahlheimer. “I feel like if I wasn’t at a place like TEKsystems, then I wouldn’t be able to have the deep relationships that I do.
"I’ve worked with consultants who are lesbian, who are transgender. I’ve been able to relate to those consultants, and they feel very comfortable with me. They know I’m OK and work with a company that’s super accepting. They know that I’m right here beside them and trust I’m going to help find them an equal opportunity."
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