HP Innovation Issue 18: Summer 2021 | Page 12


Supporting LGBTQ + Employees in the Workplace

Annette Friskopp , HP ’ s Global Head of Specialty Printing & Technology Solutions , runs a product division that has been at the forefront of print technology . As a leader , she ’ s not only evolving what printers can do , she ’ s pushing for businesses to change , too .


HEN ANNETTE FRISKOPP started her HP journey as a strategist 11 years ago , she never envisioned that her team ’ s work would contribute to such milestones as developing 3D-printed nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing , advancing the BioPrinter to help find new vaccines and drug therapies , or creating a zero-gravity printer for astronauts ’ research on the International Space Station .
“ We really have done some Jetsons stuff ,” Friskopp said of the group ’ s innovations . “ Every day , we ’ re pushing the envelope on new scientific frontiers .”
In addition to developing new life science technology and exploring ways to make products that are more sustainable , Friskopp is also a passionate advocate of evolving the workplace culture for LGBTQ + employees .
As the executive sponsor for HP ’ s Global Pride Business Impact Network , which represents 17 local Pride BINs at HP offices around the world , she helps amplify the voices of the company ’ s LGBTQ + employees by hosting quarterly meetings in which other members of the network can both share their most challenging issues and trumpet their wins . And as a board member of the workplace advocacy group Out & Equal , Friskopp helps spread best practices across industries .
“ I ’ m privileged to be out and visible ,” she said . With that privilege comes a “ call to action ” to speak out on behalf of those who can ’ t . And with a recent spate of anti-LGBTQ + legislation making headlines across the country , she feels that advocacy is even more important now .
Your book Straight Jobs , Gay Lives exploring the experiences of gay and lesbian professionals was published in 1996 . How have workplaces changed since then ? I thought we would actually be further along by now . Data shows that nearly half of LGBTQ + employees in the United States are still closeted at work . That ’ s shocking to me — that we haven ’ t made more progress , that people do not feel that they can bring their whole selves to the American workplace . There ’ s still an assumption that everyone ’ s heterosexual , that everybody is binary , so LGBTQ + people have to keep coming out . And there ’ s just so much education that is not trickling out to the rest of the community .
The mission of Out & Equal is to create a “ culture of belonging for all .” What steps should businesses adopt to achieve that ? The first of the best practices is for upper management to