In anticipation of the upcoming Tampa Bay Business Journal's Business of Pride event, Anthony Graziano, vice president, Vendor Marketing, celebrates Pride Month by sharing his personal workplace journey.
When I started my career 18 years ago, it was still considered taboo – not just at Tech Data but everywhere – to talk about sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace. I felt my sexuality was going to limit me in some way and therefore couldn’t be my authentic self.
I thought I had to fit into a certain mold – talking, acting and even dressing like the stereotypical male business professional, complete with the neutral button-up shirt and navy sports jacket (as you can see in my photo). I shared very little about my personal life with my colleagues at the office. I questioned if “Corporate America” was for me … or if “Corporate America” would ever be ready for me.
Thankfully, the answer was yes to both. Within a few years, the atmosphere started changing for the better. The world around us gradually began to be more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride parades and other LGBTQ+ events started becoming more common, and in 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. More members of the LGBTQ+ community started being open in the workplace, and in public in general, and paved the way for others to do the same.
I tip my hat to Tech Data for pioneering inclusion for LGBTQ+ employees, through programs that provide awareness, education and discussions about the benefits of a diverse workforce. Our company was one of the first to offer same-sex benefits, and in 2016 became the 14th Florida company to establish an LGBTQ+ business resource group (that ranking is according to the Human Rights Campaign).
I am now the chair of this business resource group, called Spectrum, which supports and engages with organizations such as Equality Florida, Habitat for Humanity, CASA, the Human Rights Campaign, Metro Wellness, St. Pete Pride, Phoenix Pride, Out and Equal and the Marsha P. Johnson Foundation. We participate in community outreach events and spearhead education programs. We even created a Transition Guide to help managers of employees undergoing gender transitioning to understand how to support this major life change.
At Tech Data, diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our culture, and we strive to deliver an environment where all individuals and perspectives are given a voice and real influence. I’m incredibly proud to be part of an organization doing such great work.
I’m also proud to have been selected, for the second year in a row, to be Tech Data’s representative for the Tampa Bay Business Journal (TBBJ) Business of Pride event – serving on a virtual panel with Pedro Suriel, vice president of Diversity and Inclusion for Raymond James; and Ian Anderson, TBBJ’s publisher.
Looking back, I should have realized sooner in my career that being gay isn’t my kryptonite, but my super power. I still wear button-up shirts, but often choose options with color and flare. I also still have a navy sports jacket or two in my closet. But now I wear them because I want to – not because I feel I have to.
Although it wasn’t immediate, after a few years I became comfortable being my authentic self in the workplace. I’m confident that through programs such as those provided by Tech Data’s Spectrum and community events like Business of Pride, we can help ensure LGBTQ+ newcomers to the workforce feel that way on day one. Look out Corporate America, here we are!
To learn more about the June 23 TBBJ Business of Pride event and/or to register for tickets, click here.
At Tech Data, we understand that the LGBTQ+ community is vital, worthy, and deserving of corporate support. Our company earned a perfect score on the 2021 Corporate Equality Index and was designated a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for the 16th time. If you’re interested in joining our amazing team, check out our Careers page. For more information about Tech Data overall, visit www.techdata.com or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
About the author:
Anthony Graziano is vice president, Vendor Marketing, for Tech Data and has nearly 20 years of experience in the IT industry. He leads the planning, development and execution of marketing, programs and go-to-market initiatives across the Americas Edge Solutions business. Anthony also has responsibility for alliance vendor management strategy for AMD, Intel, Google Chrome and Microsoft OEM across Tech Data’s end-to-end portfolio of products, services and solutions. He resides in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area with husband, Jerry, and their dog, Lady Pugglesworth.