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Hi 🐠, I'm starting a project with a faith based hospital system whose governing church explicitly condemns the "gay lifestyle." Questions:

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You’re starting off in Hostile Work Environment territory, and even minor comments could become a legit HR issue promptly. Partner needs to reconsider staffing, or even whether to accept the engagement in the first place. Ethics and values aside, it’s opening the firm up to liability

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I agree with many of the sentiments above. Even if there is a remote possibility that this is going to be an issue you should not have to put yourself in this situation. Not knowing more of the specifics makes it a little difficult to give a bright line answer. For instance, while the governing church has that view, if the hospital has a different view then it may change the situation a little bit. It would help to make yourself aware of the hospital’s position and written policy. Also see what public domain search about the hospital on the issue brings up. If the policy and practice of the hospital states non-discrimination against gays you should consider continuing on (assuming the role is otherwise a good fit for you). I think you have to be cautious about reverse discrimination too (not legally, but just philosophically)

However, if your gut tells you it may be an issue (take into account the duration of the project and likelihood of extension) you should listen to it. You probably have a nagging suspicion.

Finally, no, don’t go back into the closet for the project.

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I am open If some asks if I have a girlfriend or wife, I will say no. If they ask if I’m dating, I’ll say my boyfriend’s name is X. Just answering the question I’m asked. Nothing dishonest about it.

Are you open to your colleagues? RP/RL? Project team? Project Partner? If yes, I would have a conversation with your leadership so they are aware of the potential of an issue if the client were to find out and cause problems. This is to protect you.

If the Partner feels this would be an issue at that specific client, they may want to reconsider staffing. That said, most PwC partners would and will (I want to say all, but there’s always that asshat) condemn a client if they were to make any derogatory comments or negative actions towards you based on sexuality. But you need to make the Partner aware from the start.

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I was in a similar situation and while the organization touted those “values” the clients working with you did nothing to make me feel like it was hostile and still interact with me 2+ years later on how things are going between me and my boyfriend.

There is something to be said about liability. Sounds like you have a good relationship with the partner so chat with him about this as he should have a better sense of what the people are like

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I’d recommend trying to get off the project ASAP. I worked for DoD clients for years as a trans man and chose the no disclosure route, i.e. my colleagues and clients thought I was cis. It’s the “safe option,” but it wears you down so much over time. That knowledge cloying at the back of your mind that the organization you’re supporting officially views you as “less than” is demoralizing. I dreaded going to work every day, having to ignore people’s comments and opinions about whether or not “freakazoids” (real quote) like me should be allowed to serve. I wouldn’t wish that kind of work environment on anyone.

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This story was heartbreaking to read, I'm so sorry you had to go through this and I really hope that your current work environment is much more supportive and loving.

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Wow everyone, thanks so much for all your input, there are some really good nuggets to chew on. Honestly I did not expect that many people to choose "abort now!" which makes me think I hadn't quite thought through this enough.

So I'm torn because I definitely asked to he staffed to this project before of the content and it's perfect match to my background and interests and the opportunity to do some really cool and impactful work, which leaves me really conflicted because I when I heard "hospital system," I never thought about the possibility of religious implications.

I'm definitely out/open to my team and to the partner on the project, so I think I'll try to chat with him to see if he thinks it'll be an issue, especially because I'm not sure if the hospital itself has a governing policy on gays, just the church. Definitely something to look further into. But yeah, now I have to contend with the moral issues that BCG2 just raised and I don't think there's a good way to shake that gross feeling.

Its a 12 week project and I feel like I'm already kind of committed at the moment, so it's rather quick. my current approach will be to chat with the partner but otherwise to answer very truthfully if ever asked. If the client ends up being openly hateful, I've never been one to keep my mouth shut. I'll keep the thread apprised of the situation, but once again, thank you so much for all your help.

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My $0.02 is that you should definitely discuss this with your engagement partner to ensure he/ she is aware of your concerns and potential acceptance from the client. Other than that, just be yourself - we take pride in diversity and our uniqueness and the leadership will stand behind you. Also, in a hospital system environment - at all levels- you will find a lot of LGBT representatives. Happy to help too,
as I am in PWC HIA advisory too.

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Do I closet myself when interacting with the client? If point blank asked, I'm going to say that I'm gay, but am I being disingenuous if they ask if I have a wife and I just answer "no?" Is it weird if I ask to have a chat with the partner on the project about this? (FWIW, he knows I'm a big gay and he loves that about me, so he's definitely on my side in that way).

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All that said, I once had a jehova’s witness as a client. I never lied, but I did put my mad skills in the pronoun game to use. It got so intense coworkers who knew me almost injured themselves trying not to laugh

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I’m don’t hide anything. If they don’t like I’m gay and ask for me to be removed from the project, what’s the worst that happens? The partner takes you off? It’s not like you’re going to lose your job at PwC...

Why on earth do you want to work for this client? You’re adding value to an organisation that doesn’t value you. There are some higher callings that might justify such an act but consulting is not one of them

Not to throw shade here, but when you are a person of color, you can't just get out of a hostile work environment. I think you should do it. Be honest with yourself and who you are. Don't do anything stupid (another lesson you learn when you have more than one minority identity). You will likely learn and grow from the experience. That and you already know you have a team that supports you, you got this. Who knows, you may find some allies on the client side.

I’m a poc too but I think it’s a little different when a client has an explicit policy denouncing homosexuality to just general discrimination from some employees...

I was on a team serving a religious-based hospital system. The Partner and I were both gay, and the analyst was a Muslim. We would often laugh about this amongst ourselves. Even though the organization had religious ties, the executives within it were more secular than anything—they also just heard “hospital system” frankly. We were all open, though things didn’t really come up all that often. If anyone had a problem with it, they certainly didn’t show it when they bought 3 more engagements with us

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