Do you have a role model?
Role models usually come into our lives through a personal contact and enrich our experiences in both the professional and personal environments. They offer advice, coach, encourage, support and protect others. They could be a co-worker, friend, neighbor, or community member that we look up to and value. My role model has encouraged and supported me in a unique way and also inspired me to aim for goals and achieve ambitions that I thought were beyond my capability.
You may wonder who my role model is; Jude Medeiros, Operations Vice President from the Sodexo Education Market. Jude is Italian, like me, and is also a friend and confidant. Her qualities include honesty, always being accessible, caring, and always ready to mentor. One of the reasons Jude has risen to the top is because she does this while consistently blending her commitment to diversity and inclusion for all into everything she does – and I strive to emulate her behaviors.
Her passion has extended not only to me, but has also touched the lives of employees at all levels in the organization, in and outside of the GLBT community. If you met Jude and saw her passion, I am sure you would also become a more vocal advocate in the effort to educate others. This is what led to me to share my story with other Sodexo employees and to encourage them to speak up for equality.
Jude’s PRIDE efforts are always seamlessly aligned with the company’s strategic diversity imperatives, mission and values, the very idea that our people are what makes Sodexo great, and when they feel supported and accepted, they help strengthen a great company. Her pillar of strength has shifted the too-often perceived stigma of being gay to one of inclusion and acceptance. Through her involvement both with PRIDE and as a visible, accessible leader in this organization, it is clear that her commitment to our employees makes a difference in the quality of daily life for them, and their friends and families.
She bases her opinion on facts, not stereotypes or myths, and realizes that what one may have learned as a child affects them as an adult. She has taken on the challenge, and is succeeding in having people reassess their beliefs; questioning themselves and old assumptions.
Jude’s sense of obligation to create a climate of respect and understanding and not just surface tolerance, and has, over the years, been changing people’s perceptions of the gay community. Her support of Sodexo’s diversity initiatives is apparent on a daily basis. Trust is an imperative component when talking about one’s sexuality. Jude’s honesty and integrity makes it natural for people to talk with her and understand that they can also trust Sodexo as a safe space for them to work and socialize in.
What can you do? Become an ally, take the pledge or participate in an event to celebrate Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.
I applaud my role model and the purpose she has served within my life. If not for Jude, I would still be a silent ally.
Marianne Marseglia is a manager of communications for Sodexo and also communication chair for NE CMDC & the PRIDE Network Group.