myGwork spoke to a Senior Manager at Criteo about what it’s like to be authentic in the workplace
Celia Navarro, Senior Manager Talent Acquisition for R&D, Product and IIT at Criteo, spoke with myGwork about why she believes being your authentic self in the workplace is important. She described how her journey towards self-confidence changed her life and gives advice to those who are struggling to come out to their colleagues.
It would be easy for many to assume that growing up with loving, caring and supportive parents would make the coming out process much simpler for any LGBTQIA person. However, being born to what she described as “perfect parents,” Celia Navarro found it all the more nerve-wracking. Living in a relatively small suburban area near Paris, there was little to no queer representation, and open discussion of sexuality and identity rarely took place. Despite knowing her parents were tolerant and broad-minded, Celia’s hesitation in coming out stemmed from not wanting to disrupt what she saw as the ideal family dynamic.
“I was always aware that my family was really caring,” said Celia. “They spent a lot of money on my schools, and they were always there for me, and still are today. I had the perfect parents, but because they were so perfect, I didn’t want to upset them by telling them that I was gay.”
This wariness to interfere with a loving parent/child relationship resulted in Celia waiting until she was 28 to come out to her parents. Despite being convinced that her father would hold relatively traditional views towards homosexuality, she was pleasantly surprised to find that he was immediately accepting of her. After coming out, her parents’ main concern was that they hadn’t created an environment in which she felt safe to do so – something Celia was quick to reassure them to the contrary. As with many LGBTQIA people, the difficulty in coming to terms with identity originated from experiences in school and wider society. She has early memories of developing crushes on girls through school but was told repeatedly that her feelings should be for boys only.
“I remember I told myself that I should keep my dreams for women and my real life for men. I was really ready to start my life like that.”
In her early career, this lack of self-confidence and the courage to be her authentic self had a direct, negative impact on her experience in the workplace. In a previous company, Celia was subject to school-bully levels of homophobic language and passive aggressive comments, even despite not being out of the closet. As a result, she felt a complete inability to be her best self at work, and subsequently quit the role in search of a more accepting workplace. Immediately upon joining, she decided to be out and proud at work from day one. When colleagues asked if she had a boyfriend, she corrected them, telling them she was in a relationship with a woman. Since then, she has been open and unapologetic about her identity – something she is adamant can be so life-changing that it could be compared to having a superpower.
“The percentages of lesbians still closeted at work are far too high,” voiced Celia. “I’d love to insist on being authentic at work. It’s like having a superpower. I really believe that. I’ve been able to double my potential at work thanks to that.”
Soon after adopting this newfound confidence, Celia joined the recruitment team at online advertisement company Criteo, eventually climbing up the ladder towards the role of Senior Manager Talent Acquisition. As well as immediately building friendships with colleagues and creating a family-like atmosphere in the workplace, the strong, open-minded values held at Criteo allowed Celia to think about having a family of her own without fear of prejudice or potentially discriminative action. So, after meeting her wife in the United States, she was able to settle down and do just that. Constantly reflecting on her own experience of growing up unsure of how her identity could impact her relationship with her family, Celia explained why she now puts a concerted effort into making sure her children know they will be accepted no matter how they identify or feel.
“My parents were cool with me, but I didn’t know that,” explained Celia. “So, I was closeted for ten or fifteen years, because I was afraid of their behavior or their response or their attitude. That’s why getting the words out is important. It’s not just saying ‘I’m okay if my kids are gay,’ it’s important to let them know that whatever or however they feel, that you are there for them. Mentioning it a lot, saying it with words, that I am always here.”
Five years into her role at Criteo, Celia joined the company’s LGBTQ+ Pride employee resource group. Helping to steer exciting, progressive decisions in the company, she was very proud of her efforts in commemorating Lesbian Visibility Week, where Criteo gave a platform to LGBTQ+ women to share their experiences and advice. The combined achievements of everyone within the network resulted in Criteo being nominated for its outstanding efforts. Looking to the future of the network, Celia expressed a desire to increase the level of global communication around LGBTQIA issues and normalize environments that focus on maintaining employee wellbeing. She explained how the members of Criteo’s LGBTQ+ network strive to ensure a safe workspace is provided for all professionals all year round, and why such efforts shouldn’t be restricted to just the occasional discussion during Pride Month.
“It’s important to keep up support for the LGBTQ+ community all year,” she said. “We’re not gay only one month per year, so we should talk about LGBTQ+ rights all year. I do like the fact that we put aside this month to look at our history, but overall, we should all communicate more often if we want to make a difference.”
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