David and Gerardo sit opposite each other. The background is colorful.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

“Allyship allows everyone to make a huge difference”

Learn from our LGBTQIA+ colleagues Gerardo Guarderas and David Pereira why allyship plays an essential part in creating an inclusive working environment for everyone.

Rebecca Murr
Published on June 1, 2023

Every June, LGBTQIA+ communities all over the world band together to celebrate their freedom and diversity – and to protest discrimination. Still many people who identify as lesbian, gay, transexual or intersex are afraid to talk about their sexual identity in the workplace for fear of being rejected.

Someone who is always hiding, however, won’t be able to express themselves freely and make the most of their strengths. That is incredibly draining and has a negative effect on a person’s well-being, which in turn impacts the way the overall team operates. And this can lead to a loss of creativity and innovation for individuals, teams and the company overall. 

At Siemens Healthineers we aim to make life better for people everywhere in the world, and so need to make sure each colleague is respected and accepted for who they are. This is why diversity, equity, and an inclusive culture (DE&I) are so important.

The acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and the + holds space for the expanding and new understanding of different parts of the very diverse gender and sexual identities.

Visible role models and allies are incredibly important. People feel seen and understood when they have allies at their side who support them. Gerardo Guarderas, a Peruvian lawyer working in the Legal team of Siemens Healthineers in North America, is one of these colleagues. When David Pereira joined the team a year and a half ago, Gerardo gave him the support and confidence that he needed to come out and express his entire personality. “The only reason that was possible was because Gerardo was brave and determined enough to come out,” David explains. Although he and Gerardo live on completely different continents, Europe, and America, they both managed to build trust and get closer.

There was also a period in Gerardo’s life when he could not express his true self as openly, genuinely and authentically as he is able today: “I tried to avoid every question that had to do with what I did on the weekend. I didn’t feel that I could speak about my boyfriend, for example.” But thanks to the support of his managers and colleagues in Latin and North America, he found the strength and the confidence to talk about himself and his private life at work. Step by step, he opened up, first within his own team and later even taking part in larger events as a member of the Pride employee network and the Legal & Compliance DE&I Committee at Siemens Healthineers. “I just wanted to pay forward what I got from my amazing allies and share that Siemens Healthineers is a safe place for everyone.” Being an ally is Gerardo’s way of achieving this, by showing empathy and solidarity, while also supporting others, stepping up for them and getting involved himself. 

He even inspired David to get involved himself. Just recently, he expanded the global pride network as the Pride Country Lead in Portugal and also contributing as a member of the DE&I team in Southern Europe. “Everything just happened so naturally and started to grow, just like our friendship,” David says. “Some people don't find the support to come out, so having a safe space at work was heartwarming and touching.” For him this is particularly important, given that we spend many hours at work, with our colleagues.

The story of David and Gerardo is not meant to be the ultimate guide for how we can be good supporters, role models and allies for our colleagues; allyship is diverse and complex. But it shows how allies can become friends and can work together to create a working environment of acceptance and openness in which people are able to be their true selves with their managers and peers.

By Rebecca Murr

Rebecca Murr is an editor at Siemens Healthineers.