Updated: Jul 11
Today marks Family Day across the country in Israel, and I want to share with you a small but very significant part of my and my partner, Chen, journey to become a family.
Chen and I first met about 14 years ago at a mutual friend's birthday party. Right at the beginning we did a kind of short introductory round where everyone said their name and occupation. "I'm Noam and I'm a financial manager" "I'm Kevin and I'm an insurance agent" ... I could not remember either the name or the profession of anyone until it was Chen's turn. "I'm Chen and I'm a kindergarten teacher." Boom.
I was in a long relationship before I met Chen, and we got to talk about the desire to start a family, among other things. But the discrimination that existed for gay couples in particular and the gay community, in general, did not allow us to take even one step in that direction. I remember having many dreams about children and family, the laughter, and the exciting moments. But the dreams remained dreams. Until I met Chen. "Kindergarten teacher?" I stopped and spoke directly to Chen. "Yes," he answered. "Wow, how awesome!" I said while the rest of the friends kept introducing themselves. After the introductory round ended, Chen approached me and we started talking about ... children. We talked about our longing for children and our desire to start a family, about the difficulties and challenges, about the discrimination and ways that exist today for couples like us to start a family. And without noticing Chen gave me hope.
Cut 🎬 9 years later, we are already a couple plus one, Chen is still a kindergarten teacher, and I work for F5 Networks, a corporation of about 6,000 employees spread across the globe. Chen and I decide to extend our family and start another surrogacy process in the US. One word about such a process before I continue: the mental strength needed to go through such a process is on the verge of impossible. Apart from the required funds, it is a nerve-wracking process, conducted in a remote control, involving various parties both in Israel and abroad, lawyers, doctors, insurance agents, courts, Social Security, and the Ministry of the Interior, all in a foreign language and full of misunderstandings. "But hey, this is our second process. We learned a few things along the way and we're ready."
At the time there was a change of CEOs in F5 and François Loco-Dono was appointed the new CEO holding the flag of diversity and inclusion in his hand, which changed the whole picture for me and my family. Unlike the first process we went through, this time I realized I was not alone. I felt like the entire organization stands behind me and wants to see my success in building a family. An entire organization that accepts me the way I am and tries to help in almost every way. Instead of feeling alone, I felt I had strong allies, who were willing to help me and my family.
It started with human resources, which were attentive to me and to the process I went through. Always taking an interest in how I'm doing and making me feel I belong. They also supported me when I decided to share what I was going through with my manager and team members and even with other company employees. It continued through the finance department, which represented me in front of the various government ministries and made sure I got all my social rights. And finally, the Pride employee inclusion group, that Francois and the senior management in Seattle decided to establish, gave me, as I said in my lecture about my family, the feeling that I was rather at home than alone. And that's my friends the best way to create a substantial engagement of the employees. An engagement that is based first and foremost on seeing the individual, his goals and aspirations, and then connecting between the employee's personal values and those of the organization. An honest and genuine relationship between the employer and the employee.
On this family day, my family and I want to first thank F5 for all the help and support. I would also like to wish wholeheartedly that all organizations and companies will make this year a significant breakthrough in the relationships between the employees and the organization. Relationships are based on values such as openness, acceptance, respect, and compassion. Honest and genuine relationships will benefit the organization as well as its employees. Happy Family Day! Coach Perry
Corporate Coach for employee engagement and diversity and inclusion