Meet Hemina Patel
Want to know how Diversity & Inclusion is embedded in the fabric of everything we do? Hear more from our employees about their experiences.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Originally from Gujarat, India, I immigrated to the US with my family when I was nine. We landed in New Jersey and have been here ever since! Whether it's baking, cooking, or eating, most of my hobbies revolve around the kitchen. I like to think I'm pretty good at it, considering I won the SG bake-off in 2018!
I joined Societe Generale as a contractor and became a full-time employee in 2018, working in GBSU as a Projects Portfolio manager. I recently moved into HR as a Project Manager focusing on regulatory projects. I have a BFA in Interior Design and worked for an architectural firm designing and managing retail spaces for a large telecommunication company. I transitioned into the finance industry using my project management skills and have been pleased to find ample opportunities to use my creative abilities!
What does bringing your whole self to work mean to you?
Bringing your whole self to work to me means being comfortable with who you are and where you are. It's creating a safe environment where everyone is open-minded enough to learn and grow from differences in addition to finding common ground. Seeing firsthand all the work the Employee Resource Groups [ERGs] do to make this a reality at SG is what drew me to convert from contractor to a full time employee.
Over the course of the past few years, what changes have you seen?
Being involved as an active ally in the Pride & Allies ERG has given me a front-row seat to see some exciting changes and positive developments in the Diversity & Inclusion space. I have been running our Reverse Mentoring Program for the past few years, and we just successfully closed the 5th cycle! This program pairs a more junior LGBTQ+ mentor with a more senior colleague to have a series of facilitated conversations designed to help the mentee better understand the unique issues that members of this community face in professional environments. The program started slow, as we only had one volunteer -- but this year, we had fifteen volunteers! The program expanded internationally as well. I worked with our Pride & Allies chapters across the world (UK, India, France, Hong Kong) to develop their local programs and conduct trainings.
I am also involved with initiatives that have directly impacted our internal policies. One example is the all-ERG Modern Families Panel discussion that explored gaps that exist in many traditional benefits plans [including SG's at the time], making them inaccessible to the LGBTQ+ community. As a result of the discussion at this event, HR worked diligently to onboard a new vendor that offers a suite of benefits that all of our colleagues can utilize. I'm now spearheading Pride & Allies' efforts to create and adopt Transgender Guidelines that will provide support to anyone who seeks to transition in the workplace. There are so many ways to get involved and create positive changes within SG. Everyone can find something that interests them!
What would you like allies to know?
Being an ally means stepping up and being supportive of all people across our differences. Our differences make us stronger, and it's important to recognize this early on. Through my work with Pride & Allies, I've met and worked with colleagues from around the world, and developed relationships that have enriched me both personally and professionally.
Do you have an example of when an ally stepped in?
There was a period following 9-11 during which there were a series of attacks and vandalism in my neighborhood targeting people that looked like me. We were relatively new to the area, but had made friends with one of the neighbors when we'd first moved in. When the incidents began happening, our new neighbors made it a point to come over to check on us and tell my parents that they would keep an eye on us and our home. It was a simple gesture, but it meant so much to my family and me. It's part of why I am committed to being an ally and providing support to those in need.