In recognition of Pride, company continues conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion.
In recognition of Pride Month, Eden Buckhardt, Senior Processor, Retirement Plan Solutions (RPS), shares their thoughts on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) at Lincoln Financial and perspectives on allyship and equality.
Q: Tell us about yourself personally and professionally.
A: I am 24; my pronouns are they/them/theirs; and I am a gay nonbinary person who is from Fort Wayne, IN. I have two very spoiled pet rabbits who have huge diva personalities (their way or the highway). I have a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and minored in French in college. I was able to spend some time overseas after graduation to travel and improve my French. I have worked for Lincoln since October 2020; I am currently a senior technical processing expert for RPS MoneyOut. I have actually never worked a day in the office because I started after the move to work from home and now I know that my team will be fully work from home going forward, so I may never know the glory of the urban legend known as the Lincoln cafeteria.
Q: What does your day to day look like at Lincoln?
A: My team processes withdrawals from retirement accounts. Day-to-day, I review forms and collect any information needed from our clients to accurately get them their funds. I like my position because customer service is a priority, but we don’t have to directly interact with the external contacts. I interact mostly internally with my team.
Q: What do you love most about working for Lincoln?
A: I love working from home. Before I started, I worked in an office and had so much paranoia about the pandemic; it negatively impacted my mood at work and at home. I am also not at all a morning person so not directly interacting with my coworkers in the morning probably saves them from a grumpy attitude every once in a while
I also love that Lincoln employs people from different backgrounds with different experiences and perspectives. The collaborative atmosphere I feel on my team and in the LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group’s (BRG) events is incredible. We may seem different, but when we come together, we can do some amazing things.
Q: What made you want to get involved with a BRG and what does your involvement in the BRG look like?
A: I worked from home and rarely left the house. I thought I should try to get more involved in Lincoln’s culture and meet some fellow members or allies of the LGBTQ+ community, too. When I applied for Lincoln, I knew they had received recognition for LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace and I saw opportunities where I could bring even more awareness about the importance of using correct pronouns in my day-to-day. When I was hired, I was provided the opportunity to select non-binary on my application. To me, this was evidence that Lincoln understood the importance of identification and was on the right track for inclusivity. I wanted to join the BRG to ensure that my voice and opinions were included as we continued on the journey. I had experienced gender inequality and uncomfortable remarks about my gender before joining Lincoln, and I started to think “this will always be my life; is this worth the fight? Maybe I should just get over it.”
During my first BRG meeting, I mentioned additional opportunities for inclusivity throughout all processes and I was baffled by how much the BRG leads and members listened to what I had to say. They didn’t want me to get over it; they wanted to hear my perspective because I could notice things that some may have never even thought of.
In 2021, I volunteered to be on the planning committee on two events for the BRG: “A Conversation with Charlotte Clymer” which was a collaboration event with the Veteran’s BRG, and “Transgender and Non-binary Inclusion” which was aimed toward Fort Wayne management. In that time, I got to work with so many amazing people outside of my team, that I would have never met without the BRG. We created some content that I feel really proud of. This year, we’re building upon the Transgender and Non-binary inclusion presentation and delivering an enterprise educational event for Pride month focused on inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community and ways to put allyship into action.
Q: What does PRIDE mean to you?
A: Pride to me means getting to be yourself without worrying about mistreatment. When you realize that the “extra” parts of you are a gift and that your perspective as a queer person is a gift.
Q: Why is Lincoln’s recognition on the Corporate Equality Index matter to you? What does it say about Lincoln and the culture?
A: Lincoln’s recognition on the Corporate Equality Index matters to me because it was one of the main reasons I wanted to work here. Sometimes in an office setting, I feel judged for not conforming to certain gender expectations, or like I cannot really be myself or “come out” as my true gender because no one will understand or take me seriously. At Lincoln, we may have steps to take before we are “perfect”, but Lincoln encouraged me to use my voice and speak on my experience. I may have just been an entry-level processor when I first joined the BRG, but the members and leads made it clear: I had no reason to feel like my message would be less impactful since I wasn’t in a leadership position. It made me feel valued as a person to know that I had a voice from day 1 of working here.
Lincoln also has explicit policies to encourage equality in the workplace, and anyone I reached out to with concerns about misgendering handled them in a very professional and caring matter.