Celebrating Pride Month: Gerard Sgrizzi
Gerard Sgrizzi started his career with Compass Group USA in 2007 as a Regional Director with Restaurant Associates before moving into his current role as Regional Director of Operations with Unidine. Right now, he says he is enjoying the simpler things. Read his story to learn how this one-time children’s etiquette class instructor is helping others embrace their identity.
Why do you think it’s important to celebrate Pride Month, and what does it mean to you?
I grew up in a small town and wasn’t really exposed to Pride as a child. However, now that I am older and more of a role model, I think it is a time to remember the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community and the progress we have made and the opportunities that lie ahead. It is important for anyone struggling with their identity to see positive role models who have found success being their true selves. It is also powerful to understand that there are people who don’t identify as LGBTQ+ who are allies. We don’t all have to be the same to respect and support one another, and I think that’s important to remember.
How do you try to bring your authentic self to work every day?
I’ll be really honest…it has certainly changed a lot over the years. Thirty years ago, I felt that I had to edit myself a lot. I felt like I had to watch what I wore, and I read the room more closely to know what to say and how to act. Today, I am much more myself. If people embrace who I am, great! And, if they have an issue with who I am well, that’s no longer my issue. I don’t preach about it or make it political, but I stay true to myself. I am really happy that Compass embraces a diverse culture and encourages open dialogue. It’s very freeing that everyone can be themselves.
How does a diverse workforce enhance the work environment?
There is an inherent tension that comes with not being able to be your true self. When you create an environment where people can be their true selves, it opens the door to so much more collaboration and creativity.
The Compass commitment to diversity is reflected not just in our workplace, but in our service. For example, the authentic, diverse food we prepare reflects the cultures and people we serve. The workforce has changed over the years and it’s important that team members, as well as the food we serve, reflect that. If there’s one commonality with people, it is food! Part of embracing all people is embracing all food and embracing the myriad of cultures that reflect who we are.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
I love working with different people and being able to impact them in a positive way. The fact that we are in the foodservice industry is always a plus. I hope that my work at Compass helps others feel as if they have a voice and can make an impact, too. If I can get one team member struggling with whatever they are struggling with to feel more comfortable and see our work as a career rather than a job, then I consider that a win. That’s why my work as Co-Chair of the Unidine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job right now. Giving people, whether they identify with the LGBTQ+ community or as a minority, a connection, or a starting point to have courageous conversations is really important to me.