By Traci Wade, Vice President, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle
June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, and as we kick off the celebration, it’s worth reflecting on the momentous progress made by the gay liberation movement in the United States, and how the fight for LGBTQ+ rights has breathed life into so many other social-justice movements.
That’s a topic I recently spoke with Calvin Glenn about. Calvin has thought a lot about intersecting identities and the ties between marginalized communities thanks to his own unique experience and his life-long dedication to empowering others.
I learned so much from our discussion. But the big takeaway for me is that the great accomplishment of LGBTQ+ -rights activists, one that resonates far beyond that one movement, is allowing people to simply be themselves.
Growing up, Calvin occupied—and thrived in—very different spaces.
In his poor neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, he “got a lot of razzing” because his interest in books and computers wasn’t always cool. Then, his incredible academic talent thrust him into an elite all-boys school where there were few kids who looked like him; he was one of only two Black kids in his class and openly gay.
“You live across different lines,” Calvin tells me. “I don’t think any of us lives in a single space, where we’re always part of a single group. That was my experience, feeling like I was in two different spaces: first I was a really poor kid because I lived in the hood, but also I was a really privileged kid because I went to a fancy private school. Then, add in the fact that I’m a gay boy—they all made up what my identity was.”
Calvin became very good at “acting appropriate for whatever group of people I’m going to hang with,” he says. He learned to thrust forward, or hide back from view, different parts of himself.
“Today I’m going to be more prim and proper. Today I’ve got to be a little looser and more street. Some days I’ve got to make sure that when I’m hanging out with my straight friends I don’t say too much gayness. It’s interesting how all of that comes into play to create a single identity.”
Minding those distinctions isn’t really part of his life anymore; Calvin strives to bring all these experiences and facets of his identity forward as a whole self. And as an Industry Marketing leader at Oracle, he focuses on promoting a culture that makes other people feel they can do the same.
In his 14 years at Oracle, Calvin has found not only a professional home and a stellar career, but also an outlet for his sense of purpose through participation in employee resource groups that foster inclusive culture. Calvin provides an esteemed voice in two of our Employee Resource Groups (ERG): Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) and Alliance of Black Leaders for Excellence (ABLE).
OPEN, which promotes awareness of LGBTQ+ issues, is extremely important, he says. “In places I’ve been, there’s a lot of camaraderie around being Black, but not a lot for gay people.”
While earlier in his life Calvin dedicated more energy to gay activism, an area that he felt demanded visibility, as he got older he came to appreciate his voice was more needed on Black issues, due to their underrepresentation in the tech industry. For that reason, the ERG he has chosen to formally lead is the Atlanta-chapter of ABLE.
Calvin has collaborated with other Oracle ERGs like Oracle Latino Alliance to help give him greater insights into the balancing act of identity, and how it plays into a professional setting. The ultimate goal, Calvin has concluded, should be for everyone to feel comfortable bringing their true, most complete self to the workplace.
One way to achieve that is by being each other’s allies.
“We’re all more than capable of seeing someone else’s situation and understanding how to be empathetic toward it. That is one of the powers of being an ally,” Calvin tells me. “You might not feel the same way, but it’s really important to think about how someone else feels. When you’re in those spaces and you’re learning about somebody else, you’re going to hear something you experienced too for a different reason, or something you never thought about,” he says.
It’s in these spaces where we’re intentionally teaching each other that we can forge connections, driving home how similar we all are—and make it possible to find shared experiences.
“At Oracle I’ve always felt comfortable doing that. Oracle has been great for that. It’s amazing how people can bring their whole self here and not feel fear about that,” he says.
Calvin is a big fan of getting people who think differently together in a room, then watching what happens. Typically, everyone comes out of that situation having learned something, he points out.
At this point in his life and career, Calvin says exploring his intersectional identity comes down to a matter of prioritizing his focus and energies. But in some ways it doesn’t matter where he shares his voice, what affinity groups he leads or participates in, what organizations he supports, because they’re all working toward the same end goal.
“Our experiences are much more shared, we’re much more alike than different,” Calvin tells me. “We’re having the same experiences, just for different reasons and from different angles.”
As Oracle’s Vice President and Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Traci Wade leads programs that build awareness of the business impact and value of a diverse and inclusive culture at Oracle. She engages with senior leadership in creating and supporting strategies that infuse and elevate a culture of inclusion and equity.
She established Oracle’s first diversity and inclusion team in 2009. Since then, Traci has become a strategic thought leader and subject matter expert on diversity and inclusion.
Traci has received recognition and awards for her commitment and success in leading Diversity & Inclusion corporate efforts, including being named a 2021 Profiles in Diversity Journal Women Worth Watching, 2017 Top Diversity and Inclusion Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise Magazine, Bridging the Gap Award by 2015 by San Francisco African-American Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Champion of the Year in 2012 by Black Data Processing Associates, Rising Star at the Women of Color STEM Conference in 2013 and Outstanding Corporate Contributor by Black Data Processing Associates in 2013.