We need to make the topic of LGBTQI+ constantly relevant, and engaging, rather than something scary to talk about” says Sabrina Barbic, General Manager at Gilead in the Netherlands, talking to myGwork’s Louise Sinnerton.
Sabrina moved to Amsterdam six months ago from Australia, with her partner and children. This is her second time living and working in Europe and her second time experiencing Pride networks in another continent. She is passionate about inclusion, especially in the workplace. “Culturally, it’s so important that we engage on another level, and when we do, it helps create a more motivating working environment.”
Sabrina joined Gilead because of the meaningful work they do to treat and cure diseases. She says their commitment to diversity was also an important factor. She tells me that even though many employees at Gilead are out, she’s a big believer in promoting visibility and awareness. “It’s about maintaining a culture and community where no one feels discomfort or afraid of being themselves,” she says. In light of this, Sabrina wants to tackle and improve unconscious bias. She explains, “Training can have a huge impact. It’s about language, how we sometimes aren’t aware of the language we use and the assumptions that come with that. Helping people be more aware of the way they communicate can make a big difference.”
As a professional with a varied global career, Sabrina has come out many times in the past because of the assumption people make. At a dinner with a colleague, she was surprised when asked what her husband did for a living. “At the time, I thought to myself, ‘how many times do I have to come out?’ It was a little awkward, but not everyone would feel confident to address things then and there. If people didn’t make assumptions, then I wouldn’t have to face that moment where someone has to backtrack,” she says.
Living in different parts of the world, along with the fact that LGBTQI+ rights were only recognised in Australia a few years ago, has framed Sabrina’s outlook. She explains, “I don’t like the word tolerance. It’s not about putting up with something. I prefer acceptance. It should be about acceptance. It’s about us saying no, tolerance is not good enough and advocating for acceptance”.
For Sabrina, it’s not about fixating on a problem. It’s about focusing on making things better. When it comes to the workplace, the first challenge is putting inclusion on the agenda. She says, “To get to the next stage we need to look at things differently and look at creating opportunities. It’s not just about having diversity in senior leadership teams. It’s about how people relate to one another, and how people feel at work, so we can encourage people to do things they’ve never done before. The key is convincing people to come together and giving them an opportunity to connect.”