Lindsay Krakauer feels that she has truly arrived. She’s found her role as a manager who is authentic and open – but that wasn’t always the case. When she started working at Siemens Healthineers as a contractor for Manufacturing and Finance in 2008, she felt a bit like she was in a glass bubble. “It took me a while to actually connect with people, because they didn’t know who I was when I got hired for the position in Finance,” she remembers. Then something happened that paved her way: She made a pitch to the new CFO she was working for to convince her to start a Pride network at Siemens Healthineers in the U.S. “She asked me, why do you want to do that? And I answered that it was the right thing to do.” Afterwards, Krakauer made a bold move: She came out. “But my own sexual orientation wasn’t why I was doing it: This was much bigger than just me. I learned we need to find people that are different and show them there are others like them, and that they belong in this company.”
Acceptance changes everything
Today Krakauer heads the CRM and Digital Operations department in North America Marketing, Sales Ops and Communications. Before that, she held various positions as Program Manager in Diagnostics Finance, Diagnostics IT Controller, IT Strategy Expert and Head of SAP Process Excellence. “That cross-pollination of professional experience is priceless. But I really think it’s my personal experiences that have given me a different perspective in my work.”
In particular, one event really affected her: In a former job in a hospital, where she kept her sexual orientation a secret, her colleagues told her at her goodbye party that they knew she was gay. Krakauer was shocked: “I couldn’t believe that I hid so much of myself for all that time, when I could have been sharing that with them,” Krakauer says. She promised herself she would never do that again.
Meanwhile, she’s confident that she couldn’t be the person she wanted to be unless she was open about her sexual orientation, and that has helped her get where she is in her career: “Being gay is part of my leadership identity. It gives me courage,” she affirms. But that could only happen because she feels accepted by her family and friends. “Coming out to people you love is the scariest thing you’ll ever have to do. As a gay person or a trans person or anyone else in the LGBTQ+ community, you have that terrifying moment with your family and your friends. And when you’re accepted, it changes everything.”
You’re wasting all your energy hiding instead of using it to do amazing things.
Therefore, Krakauer wants to encourage everyone to reach out for support: for example, by contacting the Pride network or other institutions. “We've gone down the same road. You have to find that way to be your best self,” she says. “You’re wasting all your energy hiding instead of using it to do amazing things. There’s no pressure for anyone to come out, but we need to make sure to create a place where we all feel like we belong and are safe to be ourselves. Otherwise, we’re not reaching our full potential.”
Lindsay Krakauer on her wedding day with her wife Michelle. It all happened during the COVID-19 pandemic so it was just a small wedding ceremony in Tarrytown, NY.
Be careful with each other
Today, Krakauer is very careful when she meets someone new. For example, she chooses her language carefully when asking them about family or friends. “Because maybe their parents have passed away, or they couldn’t have children and until they tell their story you don’t want them to feel like an outsider,” Krakauer says. She also uses her own experience to help others as a mentor. In particular, one encounter has stayed with her: She met a Vice President who told her in confidence that she couldn’t come out because her leadership team made gay jokes at a dinner. “She was in the closet the whole time,” Krakauer says. “Only at the end of her career did she start to tell a few people. And I was so proud of her; but I know that she had seen and heard things that made her afraid. And it was also scary for me knowing a leader who wouldn’t come out.”
Krakauer has also been in situations where people make jokes that are inappropriate, and she stresses how important it is to stand up for others: “It's about allyship, of speaking up to protect others who aren’t speaking for themselves.” Diversity alone won’t suffice to solve this problem. “It's having the inclusion and the allyship, it’s knowing that our company isn’t a place for exclusion and prejudice.”
I try to make sure I had a really good diverse mix of candidates at the hiring table, and then they can shine,
says Lindsay Krakauer
Benefit from differences
That’s also her credo when it comes to her team. As part of her role, Krakauer brings together people with different types of expertise in marketing and sales and data analytics. When she put her team together, she looked at also bringing in people with different backgrounds and experiences. And she went through a lot of candidates: “I try to make sure I had a really good diverse mix of candidates at the hiring table, and then they can shine.” She works hard to eliminate as much potential bias as possible in order to source and hire the most qualified candidates. “By creating an inclusive team, we are now seeing the fruits of this labor because people are being heard and listened to, and they feel safe and comfortable to speak up. We’re making better progress as a better team,” she says. “Most of the time, everyone in my team has a huge amount of information to share. But you have to create the space and show them that you expect their engagement and participation – and that debates are healthy.”
She also finds that it’s important to show that mistakes are okay if everyone can learn and not repeat the same mistake. “They're not failing alone, it’s a team thing,” Krakauer emphasizes. This really reduces the pressure and fear for individuals. To better promote diversity, she sees great potential in enabling leaders. “I feel like this is where real change happens in our organization.”
Siemens Healthineers and Siemens USA partnered for WorldPride 2019 - the largest Pride celebration in the world showing their commitment to equality for all.
Acceptance and equality continue today
Lindsay Krakauer is the founder of the Pride network at Siemens Healthineers in the U.S. It’s a community of employees working together to create an environment of awareness and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) employees and their allies. She initiated it in 2010 after she finished her MBA program, where she learned about the power of diversity groups. At that time there already were a few employee resource groups at Siemens Healthineers, but Pride was missing. Today, the network has developed into a global diversity program.
In this interview, this colleague speaks as an individual and not on behalf of Siemens Healthineers.