Robert Sammons is a Senior Research Director for Cushman & Wakefield. Based in San Francisco, Robert’s principal roles include working closely with the C&W research teams across Northern California to provide superior market expertise to clients, procure new business opportunities and augment the overall research capabilities for the entire region.
Why is diversity important in the workplace?
People coming together with various backgrounds and varying opinions can be stimulating and lead to better solutions to issues facing both internal and external clients. Specifically, our external clients are wide-ranging and expect our solutions to work for all of their people, not just one segment. Beyond this, within the company it allows all Cushman & Wakefield employees to get to know those of varying backgrounds creating more understanding of our differences and, at the same time, realizing we all have a lot in common.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies?
I believe we want to make everyone of all backgrounds feel welcome at Cushman & Wakefield and not limit ourselves, or we keep the best ideas from rising to the surface. Obviously, having protections in place is very important. Though there has been a lot of progress made, we could lose many of the benefits we’ve gained – there is still a lot of vitriol out there. In the major gateway markets, it’s much easier for our company to be open to LGBTQ+ issues (here in San Francisco it would be shocking if a company was not). I think education is key though that isn’t just a company responsibility. At least making sure that there is company support for those LGBTQ+ employees in all markets but especially conservative ones – a hotline possibly – could be a step in the right direction.
How did you self-identify as LGBTQ+ at work?
For me, it was a subtle approach really starting with my career in Atlanta but accelerating when I relocated to New York and now San Francisco. I’m lucky, first and foremost, to have lived in very progressive cities. Even so, when the question arose to my dating or marital status (as it often time does within the workplace), I just add that my partner and I have been together a number of years and we live in a certain neighborhood. I’m always happy to volunteer more information as well but will at least go that far. In fact, this happened very recently during a client presentation when discussing social issues within San Francisco. I subtly mentioned living in a certain neighborhood with my partner and more questions were asked with one member of the client team also mentioning his partner and living in the same neighborhood. I’ve also become somewhat of the de facto UNITY leader in San Francisco and am involved in setting up our office Pride event (obviously a lot less subtle!).