Crizel Castro from Salesforce talks to myGwork: “There is always room for more humility and compassion”
After joining Salesforce in 2017, Solution Consultant Crizel Castro, was eager to become a member of the employee led LGBT+ group called Outforce. She had seen the group referenced on the Salesforce website when she had been looking for her first job, and decided that it was the place for her. “Like any diligent student, I was researching where I would start my career. I was so eager to keep learning about tech, but Salesforce’s commitment to and emphasis on equality is what made it the stand out choice for me”.
Three years after becoming a member of Outforce, which aims to create a safe space where people in the LGBT+ community and their allies can stand up for one another, she is more involved in the group than ever. “Within my first week of starting at the company, I joined Outforce and loved getting involved with the events. Joining Salesforce, I really wanted to improve my awareness of my own community and be able to share stories with others and allies alike”. Crizel found that experience hugely positive and can often be found participating in “lunch and learns” or volunteering her spare time at work. In fact, she became so involved that she is now the lead for the London Outforce group.
The decision to lead the group, and the idea of sharing her personal experiences weren’t necessarily things that came without any hesitation or questioning. “Generally I’m a private person, so it took me a while to be sure that I wanted to be visible and vocal about my personal journey. My story has a lot of intersectionality with different barriers, with growing up in two different continents for example, and I’m always thinking about representation. That’s something that spurred me on, realising I had a voice, and that it’s an incredible opportunity to be able to contribute our perspectives to the world.”
At the age of nine Crizel moved to the UK from the Philippines, and came out to her family when she was sixteen years old, which she describes as being a fluid journey rather than just a one-off conversation. “My parents were not accepting of my sexual identity at first. I had initially come out to my parents as bisexual as I felt that best described my orientation at the time. However over the years, I felt more comfortable using gay, lesbian, or “not straight”, which I now feel best describe my orientation. Thankfully, we have come a really long way since I first told my parents, and they are more accepting and more respectful than ever before. As long as you’re all trying to understand each other things can change and get better over time.”
Crizel is focusing on helping this safe space, and the work of Outforce, where people can have open honest conversations, to grow. “I’m learning a lot all of the time. We celebrate National Coming Out day, for example, and that’s a really powerful time, when we are fortunate enough to hear other people’s stories surrounding their sexual identity. And you understand that everyone is on a different journey. It also helps you to put empathy into action, which is so important.”
Feeling empathy is high up on Crizel’s list of priorities and something she practices daily; she reflects on her own coming out story and is extremely grateful for the network of support she has, her family, her girlfriend, friends and colleagues. “I try to practice gratitude every day. I’m so fortunate to be living in a city like London, for example, where society is more open. Of course, it can still be scary not being able to control the reaction when you might be coming out to someone – whether it is sadness, happiness, or indifference, they react with. But, at the same time, you don’t have to start with your parents, if you do want to come out, you could find a trusted ally and a safe space first. And this notion of coming out is not a one-time thing; it happens often, and you move through phases of first opening up to yourself, coming out and then living openly”.
More than anything else, being part of Salesforce and Outforce, as well as this focus on compassion have had an impact. “You get into situations where you might not be in your comfort zone – you hesitate instead of being able to fluidly tell your story – but when you take that leap into courageous vulnerability, it’s a breathtaking feeling.” The group tries to build empathy as well as support those from minority backgrounds and Crizel is passionate about supporting any of her colleagues that might need it. She is also aware that the one place where empathy may be lacking is social media and is quick to point out that being more mindful isn’t something the world has cracked. “After seeing only a few tweets people can be quick to make judgements, so we can all work towards a world where we are more respectful and open to listening. We can always show a little more humility and compassion.”
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