Being a Queer Leader at Work with Tsung-Yu Lee
Tsung-Yu Lee is a product manager at Verizon Media, a lead of our LGBTQ+ ERG (Prism), who just moved to the US a year ago from Taiwan. They are passionate about changing the world, through building products that makes our users' lives better, building a more inclusive culture in our office, and contributing to community to promote a better society.
Tsung-Yu Lee recently moved to the California from Taiwan. They continued their leadership role in Verizon Media’s LGBTQ Employee Resource Group (ERG) by being a global lead. Their experience has allowed them a full understanding of how important it is to create an inclusive workspace for everyone—regardless of where they live.
BUILT BY GIRLS: What do you think constitutes an inclusive space?
Tsung-Yu Lee: First of all it should be diverse. As many (if not all) groups should be represented in the environment as possible. You’ll see/hear different perspectives and culture in the space, and everyone is comfortable speaking up and is actually expressing themselves. Not just “being present.”
BBG: What have you done to make your office feel like an inclusive space?
TL: Standing up and speaking up. Take the lead of our ERG. People tend to be comfortable staying in their circle and complaining amongst themselves. We need more people to take action. When people see others doing the same, it is easier to follow. I personally am a follower who is inspired by seeing all other ERG leads rolling up sleeves doing these: hosting culture events, communicating issues to company leadership, and help defining/modifying company policy.
BBG: What advice do you have for someone who is newly hired or a junior team member who may not feel like they can be themselves at work?
TL: Find the support, talk to someone (inside or outside the company) about it. It’s not healthy having to cover your true self at work. If you absolutely feel you have to do it, make sure you have support elsewhere. Don’t deal with this alone.
If somehow you have overcome the hurdle, be open about it, and let others know that they can be themselves too. Be the support of others when they need it as you know best what it feels like. And then, if you have the bandwidth, change the environment!
BBG: Do you think it’s important to be out at work?
TL: It is important to me as I can not completely separate my personal life and work life. We all expect work to be professional but realistically, if you are in some way connecting to people at work, you will hear or talk about personal life. It’s human nature that we feel more connected when we share something personal. You’ll inevitably have to spend some effort in hiding yourself if you choose to be in the closet, and those effort could have been spent on the work itself or making the connection that could help your career.
BBG: How can you tell if an office or company will be a good fit for you?
TL: Look at the employees and hear from them. If you can find someone that you resonate with, and they have positive feedback about the company, it’s more likely that you’ll feel comfortable there. It’s less about the job responsibility and the business, more about the people that you will be around with.
BBG: What can straight allies do to help?
TL: Understand us and support us even when we are not around you. Sometimes by simply letting us know that you are an ally can light us up in this malicious society.