Living Out Loud: A Personal Reflection on Pride

Published on: June 3, 2024 | By: Jake Prodoehl-Macias


Celebrating the global Pride+ ERG with DE&I champions: from left to right, Veronica Lalov, Márcia Goraieb, Jake Prodoehl and Deborah Woods.
It was four years ago in June of 2020.  I set up my computer, propped up on a few old books, as I put on my nicest sport coat to host Sanofi’s first Global Pride Webcast featuring our CEO, Paul Hudson.  The pressure was on.  I feverishly tested my home Wi-Fi connection as COVID-19 kept us working from home.  What would I say?  How do I position the unique value of Sanofi’s first Global Employee Resource Group (ERG) to an audience of thousands?  How do we have a globally unified celebration of Pride when so many can’t live their truth? 

At the time, there were many more questions than answers, but one thing was for certain: it was the right thing to do. 

Since then, our Global Pride+ ERG facilitated the expansion of our Pride network to over twenty local LGBTQ+ ERGs, hosted ‘Ask Me Anything’ sessions with Executive teams, represented Sanofi in Pride Parades on five continents, acted as the voice of the LGBTQ+ community on Sanofi’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Board, influenced Sanofi’s global gender neutral parental leave policy and DEI initiatives, and we’ll soon be sharing the stage with an icon of equality and high performance: the Olympic & Paralympic Games of Paris 2024.  And we are just getting started!

Each Pride Month, I’m particularly proud to be a Sanofian.  I’m reminded of our steadfast commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and dedication to creating a place where we can bring our true selves to work.  From humble beginnings in a one-bedroom apartment zoom meeting to the La Maison Sanofi global stage alongside company executives and external thought leaders, Sanofi has shown time and time again that pride matters. 

Beyond the safety of our Sanofi workplaces, Pride Month serves as a poignant reminder for us all to not only celebrate the strides we’ve made in LGBTQ+ rights, but to understand the challenges our community still faces and the personal growth that accompanies embracing one’s authentic self.  It is a time to reflect on how far we have come – as individuals and as a community – as we strive to foster a world truly equal to all.

When I think of what Pride Month means to me personally today, I can’t help but think of a 13-year-old version of myself, paralyzed by fear of being gay.  Even back then I knew I was different, but I refused to accept that this was my reality.  I think of 16-year-old me analyzing every single word I spoke to friends to hide my true feelings and emotions.  I think of 19-year-old me debating whether to tell my family or if this would be a secret I’d carry for the rest of my life.  I think of 23-year-old me hearing slurs yelled from across a restaurant.  I think of 26-year-old me finding love and feeling some family relationships slip away as it all became more ‘real.’

It’s often said that we as LGBTQ+ people don't grow up as ourselves.  We grow up playing a version of ourselves that sacrifices authenticity to minimize rejection, judgement, and bias.  The enormous task of our adult lives is to unravel which parts of ourselves are truly us and which parts we've created to protect us. 

Fast forward from those nights praying I wasn’t gay to that first global webcast in 2020 to this Pride Month 2024 and I am overwhelmed with joy.  Joy for how much our Global Pride+ ERG has accomplished in a few short years.  Joy for a culture change that truly embraces inclusion, equity, and diversity.  Joy for all my fellow LGBTQ+ friends and colleagues who are finding and raising their voice here at Sanofi.  And while our Pride+ ERG may not be able to change global policy or laws overnight, we can share our stories.  We can normalize the conversation.  We can learn from each other’s experiences around the globe.  We can build a community of allies who can amplify our simple message: we belong too. 

Pride+ has been – and will always be – part of my Sanofi DNA.  But as my tenure as Global Lead comes to an end, the future of Pride+ has never been brighter.  I look forward to the fresh ideas new leadership will bring to our Global ERGs for the next term starting in October.  Now, I am on to my next great adventure in what feels like a poetic end to an incredible journey with Pride+: marriage.  On May 25, I married the love of my life, Eduardo.  This Pride Month is particularly special as I celebrate with my now husband and with you all.  Younger Jake would be really proud right now.

Happy Pride!  

Jake Prodoehl-Macias
Global Marketing Manager, Tolebrutinib
Global Lead Pride+ ERG & DEI Board Member