Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Bringing your whole self to work

Our LGTBQIA+ colleagues share their experiences of living their authentic selves
3 min
Published on June 27, 2022

It can be as simple as sharing what you did at the weekend or having a photo of your partner on your desk. But these can mean so much. We asked our LGBTQIA+ colleagues how their working lives have changed after coming out. Their stories show how good it can feel to just be the person you really are.

Melanie Schwarzmann, Head of Vendor Logistics Solutions at Siemens Healthineers Customer Services

My story may be a little different because I never felt like I had to consciously come out. It just turned out that way. But one thing at a time: In my early twenties, I married a man with whom I was also very happy. However, the marriage broke up. By chance, I met a woman in my brother’s circle of friends, who after gradually provoked some very special feelings in me. But I first had to understand this myself. At some point, we had our first kiss and then became a couple. 

At this point, I asked myself for the first time how I would explain the new situation to my family and friends. My brother was the first to know. He was very happy for me and warmly welcomed Liane into our family. My parents and friends also congratulated us on this step. In the meantime, we have been married for five years, and it’s quite normal for me to be in love with a woman. 

In my work environment, however, the situation was different. My colleagues only knew that there was someone at my side again. After my Siemens training in a rather conservative environment, I was skeptical about how they would react. But by chance, my boss at the time found out about my wedding date and I talked to her about it. She was very happy for us, but also disappointed that I was holding back so much and didn't dare talk openly with her about my new partner. That day, I decided to stop pretending and to deal with the situation openly. Today, I’m a manager myself and advocate a collegial and friendly relationship in the work environment where everyone is allowed to be who they are, even if this is a little different.

Matias Oliver, Remote Services Center for Computed Tomography in Madrid

Actually, I've never really had the desire to be “officially out” at Siemens Healthineers. However, I must confess that I wasn’t fully honest about myself at the beginning of my career. But little by little, I started to be more open about my personal life. And that was so important for me personally, because being your true self brings out the best in you. And this plays a particularly important role in our everyday working lives as we spend a large proportion of our day at work. Being out took an extra weight off my shoulders and has allowed me to be more confident and relaxed. I think it´s also helpful for other people like me to have proud LGBTQIA+ representatives at their workplaces who can provide information and assistance. 

I deeply believe that diverse teams are stronger and more creative, and this usually contributes to a more relaxed and inclusive work environment. In such an environment, everyone can feel safe and know that they will be treated with kindness and respect at work. Knowing that no one will be the target of bullying or that we won´t have to tolerate silly jokes about our diverse nature is a goal that we should all try to achieve.

Scott Hirschuber, Trainer for Molecular Imaging, Siemens Healthineers

I’ve been with Siemens Healthineers for 18 years, but I came out only eight years ago. Before my current position, I worked remotely for most of the time, so I didn’t see any of my colleagues on a regular basis. I could chat about going to the movies with ‘a friend’ on the weekend and that was enough information. I kept my head down and did what my job entailed, but it was mentally exhausting to try to live two lives. Constantly being on edge, trying to make sure that you don’t slip and say something that gives you away. It’s super challenging. 

When I had the opportunity to change positions, I decided I didn’t want to keep that part of my life separate anymore. However, my coming out wasn’t some sort of promotion or big announcement. When people asked, I simply no longer made it sound like the person I was seeing was “just someone.” I called him my boyfriend. And things started to change after that. Not only did my work life flourish, but also my private life. I think this small change made me find my voice and it opened so many doors. That heavy weight of living two lives just lifted off my shoulders and this allowed my creativity and my passion to really flourish. I brought my true self to work and no longer had to leave it at the front door. Being honest about myself made me a lot more confident and I hope I can share that confidence with others by showing who I truly am.

Sabine von Sengbusch, Head of Clinical Affairs Scientific Support, ​​​​​​​Validation & Labeling at Siemens Healthineers Diagnostics

When I started my career in 1991 at Siemens in Munich, nobody knew I was in a relationship with a woman. But as you get older, and among colleagues, the question always came up whether there was another person in my life. You always hold back a little bit, and that doesn't make you part of the club.

When I met my now wife in 2008, I didn’t want to keep my relationship in the dark. I told my boss I was in a relationship with a woman, and all he said was: That’s totally ok. So, I started very slowly to also talk to others about it.The big moment of coming out was when I joined the Diagnostics business: I was interviewing for this new position, and I walked through the cafeteria where screens were showing the Pride employee resource group. I met some members of this group and knew that this was a company I could work for. I never looked back from this moment: I had a fabulous management team that totally supported me. My wife Sunny and I went to the first work party together, sat at the table with my colleagues, and it was a wonderful feeling to be absolutely accepted. 

Derek McIver, Head of Digital Marketing at Siemens Healthineers Laboratory and POC Diagnostics

This year will be my 25th anniversary of coming out. I had just turned 13, sitting in 8th grade U.S. History class when I passed a note to my friend behind me. A moment later, she tapped me on the shoulder. “Really?!” she whispered. “Yea,” I replied. “Hush!” scolded the teacher. Soon after, gossip traveled fast among my teenaged classmates. 

In the years since, I’ve had to come out again and again—in college, at new jobs, to friends, and friends of friends. It’s perpetual. When I joined Siemens nearly a decade ago, I decorated my cubicle to make it feel comfortable. So, right next to my computer monitor and above my fish tank, I hung a photo from my wedding day in which my husband and I sit cross-legged across from each other and kiss. In those days, we had a communal lunch hour with colleagues. We shared stories around the lunch table, and I never omitted my husband from them. Coming out at Siemens was mostly like that—subtle but open and honest. Today, I’m much the same way. 

Being out is a deeply personal decision. It made me stronger, and I don’t think I could have lived my life without doing it. For me, it was the late 90s in Massachusetts. Ellen DeGeneres had come out on TV earlier the same year, and I had a lot of support at home. Being out as a young teenager is never easy, but it could have been a lot worse—even today: In New York, where I live now, as many as 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. That’s why it’s a deeply personal decision because it can have harmful consequences in some places. Siemens Healthineers has always allowed me to feel comfortable being open about my identity, and I’m so grateful for that.