Team member reflects on belonging, being himself and standing up for change.
In high school, Nick Nelson worked summers as a counselor and swimming instructor at a Boy Scout camp in Western Wisconsin. As an Eagle Scout, he found the work meaningful, but he also felt that he couldn’t truly be his full self. “At the time, there was a ban on scouting members, staff and volunteers who identify as gay, and those individuals could be legally fired and have their Eagle Scout awards taken away,” he said. “I had to hide who I was at the risk of being outed, and that took a mental toll.”
Although the Boy Scouts of America has continued to change their policies and is now a more inclusive organization, Nick — who has been with our marketing team for five years — has found his professional home at Baker Tilly. “Times have definitely changed,” he said, “Baker Tilly was the first job where I felt I could truly be myself on day one.”
In fact, during Nick’s interview, the first question he asked his future manager was how friendly of a place Baker Tilly is for members of the LGTBQ community. “Her answer sold me,” said Nick. “She said as a woman, she felt supported and that she was given the same opportunities as her male counterparts — and that she’d expect nothing less for me or anyone else who identifies as LGBTQ.”
Now, Nick is a member of our PRIDE team member network. “Having a Pride group signals that our firm is creating an open community where team members can be themselves and bring everything to the table.”
He also points to research that shows closeted employees feel more distracted and less connected, and can therefore be less effective in their jobs. “Our inclusive community is a benefit for our entire firm.”
Nick sees great opportunity for the PRIDE network to ally with Black colleagues. “The gay rights movement was started by queer people of color, and is about fighting for humanity. There is still a long way to go, but this wouldn’t be possible without the help of our straight allies that continue to fight by our side. With this in mind, it is also important for those of us who identify as LGBTQ to be allies to people of color by listening to their stories, speaking up and advocating for change."