Connor Reed has always been so fascinated with computers that his friends call him the “local tech wiz” who can solve all of their computer problems. “Growing up, my dad was a computer programmer and some of my favorite childhood memories are us sitting together and him teaching me different tricks and hacks,” said Reed.
Connor evolved his tech wizard status at Lenovo as a firmware engineer. He spends his days collaborating with customers and writing code to ensure servers are working smoothly.
“Engaging with customers is my favorite part about my job,” he said. “Given his or her own unique experiences and backgrounds, it’s a valuable chance to see how someone else does the same thing, but differently. It can be easy to be drawn into the classic ‘oh, that’s how we’ve always done it around here’ mentality, and when you get to work with another engineer at a different company who has done something completely different than you for the last 15 years, it’s like splashing cold water on your face. You get to see a fresh perspective and new interpretation of the way that you’ve been doing things, and it really challenges you to think differently.”
That respect for diversity fits in well at Lenovo, where an expansive culture crosses 160 countries with 57,000 employees worldwide. Reed, who is gay, values the connectedness and support of having a sense of community—one he has found through Lenovo. But he also seeks smaller, self-identified communities within the company.
“Despite the benefits of diversity and positivity that comes from it, sometimes it’s just as enriching to be around people who are like-minded,” said Reed. “We all have rough patches in our lives at times and need to be around people who understand and have gone through the same thing or something similar. That’s why I really appreciate Lenovo’s Employee Resource Groups. When you are a part of a group with similar experiences, you can build upon them and create a bigger story.”
Even though Reed currently feels comfortable bringing his whole self to work, that wasn’t always the case.
“In the past, I worked for companies where I would not come out as gay,” explained Reed. “I felt the need to hide who I was when I walked into the office. Here at Lenovo, there is that freedom of expression and fresh thought. People feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. That act, in and of itself, is what creates the atmosphere that empowers others to say, you know what, I’ll come out as gay, too. I’ll come out as transgender. I’ll come out as bi-sexual. I’ll talk about the things I normally would have kept to myself because there are other people doing it too.”
Reed believes Lenovo is supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, but one situation in particular stands out as the pivotal moment for him. “I will never forget an executive standing up on stage during an all hands meeting and very casually mentioning she and her wife experienced a lovely vacation,” said Reed. “It was so small, this almost insignificant moment seeming more powerful than a three-hour seminar on diversity. Seeing executives and people in positions of seniority live and promote an inclusive culture is what made me feel safe.”
The big takeaway Connor would like everyone to walk away with? Being LGBTQ+ is not one quantifiable thing.
Being LGBTQ+ means different things to different people, and my experiences are certainly not indicative of anyone else’s—the LGBTQ+ family is inherently unique, and that is what makes it so special.
“For me, I would say that there are influencers and people out there in the world who like to think of LGBTQ+ people as being a category. If I had the power to change one thing, it would be that. For me, being gay is just another part of me, just like how my favorite color is orange, and I like to drive sports cars. I do not see myself as being gay as being any different than being a gamer. It’s all part of the human called ‘Connor.’”
To celebrate Pride Month this year, Connor is attending the Pride Parade in downtown Raleigh, NC. “We want to continue building ourselves as a modern brand that cares about modern issues, and I would love nothing more than to proudly wear my Lenovo swag and walk down the parade showcasing that Lenovo cares about diversity and about LGBTQ+ employees,” said Reed.