When Diane Sedillo was 5 years old and growing up in the Philippines, she started to feel as if she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. Today, at the age of 43, thanks to the support of and acceptance from her family and friends, Sedillo said she is enjoying the freedom of living a life that’s true to herself as a woman.
After studying technology in college and transitioning at the age of 21, Sedillo wanted to be a performer, initially landing a role as a dancer in Manila. After about 10 years in show business, she realized it wasn’t something she wanted to do forever, so she became an infrastructure project manager for an information technology company. A few years later, she started working for Wells Fargo.
Sedillo has worked for Wells Fargo for three years and is grateful to receive support in her role as a project manager for Wells Fargo’s Finance group in Taguig City, Philippines.
“My fellow senior project managers and bosses really appreciate my work,” Sedillo said. “That acceptance motivates me to work effectively.”
The primary reason Sedillo wanted to work for Wells Fargo was because of its diversity and inclusion. “I want to be with a company that will not only accept me for what I can contribute, but for who I am,” she said.
Sedillo has felt special and accepted as a member of Wells Fargo’s PRIDE Team Member Network, a network of individuals within the company who self-identify as LGBTQ and allies. The group encourages personal and professional development through involvement in community and company activities, and it has created changes including the voluntary use of pronouns on business cards and emails signatures for U.S. team members. In July 2019, Wells Fargo updated its U.S. Team Member Handbook making the pronoun option official. Future consideration on this topic will be explored for international team members.
“I am so happy that I was able to change my name in our email and instant messaging systems,” Sedillo said. “And I very much appreciate being called ‘ma'am,’ ‘miss,’ and ‘her’ in calls and every communication. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to feel the acceptance and be part of this diverse company.”
Sedillo said members of the PRIDE Team Member Network in the Philippines were able to engage with management and Human Resources about the need for gender-neutral restrooms, which resulted in the facility implementing those changes.
“We also have HMO benefits for our domestic partners,” she said. “Even though in our country same-sex marriage is not legal, at least I know in case of medical emergencies my partner will be taken care of. PRIDE helps raise awareness on trans issues and the trans community. We’re not just people you pass at work. We are people of value that make significant contributions too.”
Sasha Strock, transgender engagement chair for the Wells Fargo PRIDE Team Member Network’s Enterprise Leadership Team in Minneapolis, said efforts happening across the company are having a ripple effect.
“We’ve been able to share resources with team members and their families,” Strock said. “The work we’re doing is stretching beyond Wells Fargo and into the community. It’s impacting people’s lives, and it’s being led by people who identify as being transgender.”
While Sedillo said she feels supported at her current job, that was not always the case. When she applied for a job with a different company after graduating college, Sedillo said she was discriminated against because of her gender identity. She added that she has also previously been bullied for her height.
“I stand 5 feet and 11 inches tall, which is more than the average height of most Filipinos here in my country,” Sedillo said. “I was bullied because of my height, with people saying that I looked like a basketball player. But that was a challenge for me to prove that this tall lady can do more.”
Fortunately, she said, things have improved, especially as U.S. companies have grown their businesses in the Philippines. “LGBTQ team members are given a chance and equal opportunity to be part of a company regardless of gender identity,” Sedillo said. “It was difficult at first, especially in the technology industry where most of the workers are men. But this served as a challenge to prove to them that I am a woman with talent, intelligence, and of good moral character. I always believe the time will come when everyone will legally accept us.”
This year, Wells Fargo is continuing its sponsorship of LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD’s anti-bullying campaign, Spirit Day. On Oct. 17, millions of people, including Wells Fargo team members, are encouraged to “go purple” to visibly speak out against LGBTQ bullying and stand with LGBTQ youth. After her own experiences with bullying, Sedillo said she would tell others who are transgender and facing challenges, including bullying, to be brave. “Show people what you are capable of and what you can contribute,” Sedillo said. “Always be decent and professional in your actions and maintain your dignity and strong moral value. Acceptance and respect will always follow.”
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