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Post submitted by Maureen McCarty, former HRC Deputy Director of Marketing

Today in an op-ed on The Huffington Post, PepsiCo Inc. North America Beverages’ Director of Operations Patrice Pluto reflects on her journey breaking down barriers at the beverage company, from working as the first woman in the New York manufacturing plant to coming out as a lesbian.

According to Pluto, it is the company’s rich history of embracing and celebrating diversity in the workplace, as well as its commitment to inclusive policies and practices that make her proud to work at PepsiCo Inc.  

For years, the beverage company has topped HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking tool of corporate policies and practices related to LGBT employees, as one of the “Best Places to Work.”

During the recent push for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate, Pepsico Inc. spoke out in support of federal legislation to provide for all LGBT Americans the same basic protections the corporation affords to its employees. By participating in the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, PepsiCo joined an overwhelming majority of America’s leading businesses that support workplace opportunity.

And, most recently, PepsiCo took its commitment to the LGBT youth to the next level, sponsoring the HRC Foundations Historically Black College and University LGBT Student Leadership Summit. The summit is designed to foster an effect group of LGBT HBCU student leaders committed to developing their personal leadership and career skills, and to develop student leaders to advocate for LGBT equality and social justice. 

Pluto writes in The Huffington Post that by coming out as a lesbian, she was able to bring awareness to the issue of LGBT inclusion and play and important role in the company’s commitment to its corporate ideals.  

“When I first started working for PepsiCo 32 years ago, I was the poster child for corporate change and workplace equality. As the only woman working in Pepsi's manufacturing plant in Long Island City, N.Y., I had an experience that was as rewarding for me as it was transformative for the plant. My presence alone helped foster a workplace that was more respectful and inclusive.

But despite my continued career successes and accomplishments, a full 15 years passed before I was ready to come out as a lesbian at work. We all have our own path."

To me, the most remarkable part of my journey is what happened in this next chapter. Instead of doors being closed to me or barriers being created (which of course was part of my reticence), my coming out was the catalyst for growth personally as well as professionally. Being out was liberating. Intellectually I knew I had been expending energy by not bringing such an important part of who I am to work, but I can't begin to articulate the difference it actually made for me.”

Read Pluto’s op-ed in its entirety on The Huffington Post.

Filed under: Coming Out, Workplace, Media

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