Being Honest About Who I Am

Selcan is a Data Entry Specialist in Istanbul, Turkey. She joined Nielsen in 2018 as an openly transgender woman

Selcan is a Data Entry Specialist in Istanbul, Turkey. She joined Nielsen in 2018 as an openly transgender woman and is an active member of PRIDE, our LGBTQ+ & Allies employee resource group.

Hi, I’m Selcan.

I’d like to tell you about my journey working as a transgender woman and how Nielsen is different from other corporations. But first, I’ll begin with my life before Nielsen.

I started my career at a very young age in order to support my family financially, and I found a place in the IT industry. After a year of end-user support, I landed my first professional job at a top consumer goods corporation in Turkey while I was still in high school. I proved to be a quick learner and knew I could go further in my career, so I invested in my future by taking the exams required to become a certified IT professional. At the same time, I also passed the university entrance exam and started my education at Istanbul University. All that hard work paid off and I became an IT professional, helping me land jobs at major global corporations.

But I wasn’t being my authentic self at work and I was unhappy. Imagine yourself in my place: Would hiding who you are make you feel happy? No, it’s the exact opposite. In fact, it may be one of the worst things a person can experience. I wasn’t comfortable coming out as transgender at work at the time, so I decided to quit my job in IT that I’d worked so hard to get. I gave it all up to be able to be my authentic self and continue my transition journey.

Of course, I couldn’t live as an unemployed person for long. However, when you are transgender, it’s very challenging to find a job or to even get an interview with a head hunter, no matter how well experienced, qualified or highly skilled you are. So as a professional IT problem solver with almost eight years of experience, I had another big “problem” to solve.

I took a different approach to tackling that problem, and made a bold decision to come out as a transgender person on the first page of my resume. By doing that, I hoped to prevent any incidents and avoid wasting my time talking to companies that wouldn’t accept me. As it turned out, showing my vulnerability and being honest about who I am actually helped me. I received four different offers! I chose Nielsen because of its diversity and inclusion efforts, which support open discussions about gender and sexuality.

Now, it’s been about a year since I started at Nielsen, and I already feel like I have found my family! Compared with my previous workplaces, Nielsen really stands out. I don’t say this lightly, as I’ve experienced the other side of the coin firsthand: At one company, I decided to meet with HR before coming out as transgender more widely to colleagues. There, I was told that being an LGBTQ person was a mental illness, and the local HR team concluded that I couldn’t work there unless I wore men’s clothes. That company failed me, and it was nearly impossible to perform at my best.

At Nielsen, I can be myself. Every day we’re encouraged to bring our best to work, without having to think about how to fake who you are or fight for who you are. The culture here can’t be found in many companies that operate in Turkey. There is very little hierarchy, which means you can speak directly to anybody and approach anyone regardless of who you are or what your title is. You are also valued and respected with your chosen pronouns.

Here, I can openly be my authentic self without hesitation, discuss why diversity and pride matter, participate in events like Nielsen Global Impact Day, and have fun while doing my daily work. I can even wear what I want to wear, because people at Nielsen would rather focus on how do we do the work, the impact it makes and what we achieve as a team.

Simply working here makes me happy every day. I see visible support from my ally colleagues wearing their rainbow-colored lanyards. But it’s not just because of the inclusive support I get. It’s also because I have the opportunity to learn brand new things by attending employee-led training sessions or external training supported by Nielsen. I’m learning, un-learning and re-learning to grow alongside my team in this dynamic, fast-paced ever-changing age of digital technology. I find motivation every morning by telling myself that I’m going to school to learn my favorite lessons with my closest friends, plus I earn money for it—imagine that!