For some, being at the right place at the right time is a coincidence. For Rodolfo Corral, its magical.
Corral, software engineer, Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) at the Torreon, Mexico facility is on an incredible journey; one inspired by personal relationships, filled with passionate people, is making an impact across Mexico, has been recognized by a Deere division president, and was awarded by an international organization.
Quite the ride for one person, but Corral claims he's not on the journey alone. That's the magical part.
The journey begins with one
When Corral first joined Deere as a full-time employee in 2017, he had concerns about bringing his full self to Deere, where he was a contingent employee from 2009-2011. His previous experience with the company offered little to be desired for an openly gay man. He was concerned about moving to a new city and starting a new job. He was unsure of the new environment. He was doubting his safety.
However, he was assured that Deere was embracing new diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies that provided a safe place for him, where he could participate in the workplace as a holistic person. His full self.
"I was very much looking forward to becoming a full-time employee, and I felt confident they would accept me for who I really was," he said.
His first week on the job, Corral received an email about joining the Rainbow Employee Resource Group (ERG), which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) inclusion at John Deere by breaking isolation and encouraging employee networking. That is how he met Nancy Rocha.
Although the Rainbow ERG was initially focused on employees in the US at that time, Corral and Rocha wanted to develop a program and activities specifically for employees at the Torreon location.
"Working with Nancy, who had more time in the company and was more familiar with what Rainbow was doing in the US, we developed a Torreon chapter and began inviting people to join," said Corral. "That is where the magical journey began."
Building the future
Corral describes the culture of Latin people as very passionate, and that is just what he experienced when he began recruiting employees to be a part of Rainbow.
"That passion makes me feel warm, more accepted, and has inspired me to make it grow and share it with all the people. That passion is something that has been key to my determination to plan activities for Rainbow," he said. "The allies' passion makes me want to make Rainbow bigger and it makes me believe there is hope in people. I feel the passion in them, and I embrace it and use it to empower more people."
Rocha asked Corral to be the leader of the Torreon chapter and he began planning activities for group members. He designed a plan that included an expansion of Pride Week to Pride Month, where he planned activities focused on storytelling.
"I started telling my story first so others would see me sharing my vulnerabilities and that would encourage them to raise their voice and tell their stories and share their experiences. It became a very positive activity," he said. "When people hear me, they feel empathy and they feel what I am saying, feel what I am expressing, which is very motivating for me. I love when I can make an impact."
To build out the Rainbow network, Corral specifically reached out to employees who work on the production line to start sharing their stories and ask questions.
"Initially, I felt like I was the only person but then I started to learn more about others and encouraged them to share how they live, their thoughts and feelings, and how we can create a more secure environment for us," said Corral. "If we don't let others know how we feel, they can be disrespectful, but we have to let them know when we are uncomfortable. We have the same life they have."
Corral explained that encouragement was very impactful for production workers who had never had that kind of interaction before. No one ever talked about being LGBTQ on the line, and that sharing became very important for them.
"It is very exciting for me that I could move something inside of them. When I started telling my story, people started asking me questions to clear up their doubts and they saw in me someone they could trust," he said. "I took that as an opportunity to help them understand that they can show others who they are, and people can stand up for the LGBTQ community."