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TIM al Pride 2019

TIM and the LGBT+ community: the road to inclusion

From our sponsorship and involvement in Pride events, to our collaboration with the Parks - Liberi e Uguali association, to the story of Valentina, an LGBT+ wife then mother during the Covid-19 emergency.

07/13/2020 - 12:30 PM

Pride month

In June, and over the following summer months, the world’s major cities have been decked out in rainbows for Pride, the demonstrations led by the LGBT+ (acronym which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, where the “+” represents all further variants of sexual orientation and gender identity) community to affirm their identity and their pride. 

June is a symbolic month for the LGBT community, because the 27th of June marked the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of violent conflicts between members of the gay community and the New York police, which started with a raid of a gay bar called the “Stonewall Inn”.  This date is considered to have been the symbolic conception of the modern global gay liberation movement, and the organisation of “Gay Pride” is concentrated around it.

TIM has been involved in Milano and Roma Pride for 3 years, as a sponsor and with a large group of our own employees, as well as their families and friends.  We are a joyful presence proudly displaying its rainbow corporate colours. Due to the global health emergency, this year’s Pride events were only held online, but our focus on valuing diversity, the LGBT community and inclusion in general still shone through.

TIM and LGBT+ inclusion

TIM was one of Italy's pioneer companies, supporting internal cultural change through its partnership with the PARKS, Liberi e Uguali association, which TIM was a founding member of in 2009.

In 2013, following PARKS' successful launch but before the Cirinnà law, we were the first in Italy to provide a paid leave, equivalent in duration to that of a marital leave, to Valentina Casula, an employee who entered into a civil partnership abroad with her partner.

Since then, we have also broadened our definition of “family” to include cohabiting partners, regardless of gender and extend to them all the benefits granted to employees (car, healthcare, caring services), and their families (whether blood relatives or not, and therefore also to homosexual families and their children) access to TIM’s numerous corporate caring services (day-care centres, summer camps, study camps).

For transgender people, we support them on their path towards transitioning, preparing the workplace and implementing a policy that allows the person to acquire a corporate social identity consistent with the gender they are transitioning to.

Recently, Valentina Casula also started a new chapter in her family’s history with the birth of Adele. We stood by her and her family on this occasion too. We asked Valentina to tell us about her experience.

Valentina’s story

Valentina Casula

Valentina, could you briefly tell us your story before and after TIM?

Valentina - I have lived in Tuscany for years but I was born in Sardinia, where I studied until my first years of university.

It’s a story that is common to many Sardinian boys and girls, who leave for “the continent” to find their own way. Precisely for this reason, I decided to continue and finish my studies in Pisa and shortly after graduation I started working at TIM. After some time, I found true love and decided to get married. Just one tiny detail: the love of my life is called Elisa, it's 2013 and what we would like to do is not allowed in Italy!

How did you come out to the company?

I’ve never really considered it appropriate to talk about my private life with my colleagues other than those I am closest to, because there is always some fear around it; you never really know what the person’s reaction will be. In 2013, though, Elisa and I decided to get married and that was quite complicated: the Cirinnà law was still far from a reality, we had to travel to Germany because it wasn’t allowed in Italy, and above all we wouldn’t be allowed a regular marriage leave unless the company became involved. I built up some courage (as did Elisa), I talked to the bosses about it...and it went well! I've been granted paid leave equal to marriage leave! So, I told my colleagues, and it was a “combo” coming out because I told them that I was getting married, that the other person was a woman and that I was going on my honeymoon!

So, you and your wife were the first people in Italy to be granted paid leaves (yours from TIM) of the same duration as that granted for a marriage leave. Now, for the birth of your daughter, the company has supported you with financial support for the assisted procreation process. What can you tell us about this new chapter in your life?

Well, deciding to have a child is a choice that then leads you to facing a thousand doubts and a thousand obstacles. If this then involves a LGBT parents, the doubts and obstacles are multiplied even further. The company’s extraordinary contribution has certainly helped to break down some of these obstacles. The adventure started last year with the first trips to Valencia, and really went live on 7 March, when Adele was born! The pandemic and lockdown did make it all a little stranger; our doubts remain, as do our fears of how people might perceive us, but we were lucky and seeing Adele's smile every morning makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Was inclusion an equally defining factor in both your life and work experience?

When I read the news, especially the most recent news, I realise that I have always been very lucky, because neither in my family nor at work have I ever found obstacles or prejudices against how I am, either before or after coming out. I mean, there’s always that underlying fear that sooner or later I will meet someone who does not respect me for who I am, but the certainty of having support behind me, being able to count on a family that believes in me and on an inclusive workplace is definitely a strength that gives me courage and allows me to face difficulties with an extra edge.

What’s your idea of an “inclusive” company?  In your experience, can this approach still be avoided?      

When I asked for a marriage leave, although I realised that the request was unusual, my manager told me that she would still insist on a positive outcome, not because it was me, but because she believed it was my right. This sentence, which she said so naturally, in a way that unfortunately still can’t always be counted on in a country like ours, is the basis of inclusivity. This inclusivity which, when practiced at the company level, allows people to work peacefully, without feeling that they are wrong, or excluded, or treated differently because they are labelled as 'other'.

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