Paulina Herrmann is a specialist Foodservice Consultant at JLL and as of May 2018 she is also the Co-Chair of our professional LGBTQ+ network, Building Pride.
Can you please tell us about your coming out experience(s)?
My first coming out, as a lesbian, was almost too easy. I was up front with friends right away and with parents soon after as well. I am out to my whole family by now and they are very supportive of my partner and me. My second coming out, as a Bi person, is still in progress. It is something that causes me a lot of headache and it’s not a label that I wear proudly, due to the negative reactions I had from both the LGBT and straight communities. The day-to-day coming out process in general has become a non-issue, especially in the workplace. I just throw the information out there and quite frankly demand people be okay with it and have been rather lucky with this approach so far. Having said that, I don’t come out as bi, I come out as gay or tell people that I am in a long term same-sex relationship. Like I said, it’s a work in progress…
Who has been your best ally when coming out?
Different people in different situations really. Some very unexpected too, as for example my religious, Polish Grandmother. I never came out to her because I thought that she would not understand and I did not want to upset her. I also moved to another country, so she really was not part of my life for a while. When she found out (through others), she ranted at my parents and accused them of sending me away to hide my lifestyle because they were supposedly ashamed of me. This was not at all true of course and we all ended up having a good laugh. My lesson from this was not to let my own prejudice stop me from sharing my truth because support can come from the most unexpected places.
How involved are you with your company’s LGBT+ employee resource group, do they host many lesbian-focused events?
I joined Building Pride very soon after starting at JLL where we have a mix of straight allies and LGBT members I have been an active member attending events and supported as a volunteer. However, I have become even more involved since taking on the role as Co-Chair in May 2018. Some of the things I hope to achieve, apart from making our workplace a more inclusive and diverse place in general, is to improve JLL as workplace for transgender colleagues, to promote bi-visibility as an active role-model (although I am still working on that) and to increase our collaboration with allies outside of JLL, such as with clients, other networks and organisations. We were particularly proud to have made it into the Top 100 of the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index this year, jumping to 64. A real team effort at JLL by current and former colleagues. We hold several different events for our members and are really focused now on intersectionality and ally networking – so we don’t find the need for solely lesbian focused events.