Sebastian at pride event

Growing up in a small progressive arts community south of Toronto, Canada, Novo Nordisk employee Sebastian Parlee, never gave a second thought to being a member of the LGBTQ2+ community, especially when he had the support of family members.

“It wasn’t until I moved to the upper Midwest region of the US to work as a post-doctoral fellow that I realized things in this part of the United States were different from where I’d grown up,” he shared. “The science industry isn’t always an equal playing field for minorities, and I was warned by a former faculty member that this was something I would have to consider as I moved up in my career. I knew I’d have to hide part of my identity to protect myself. Unfortunately, it’s just something I had to deal with at the time.”

After finishing his fellowship, Sebastian accepted a scientist position for Novo Nordisk at a small research & development (R&D) site in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“At first, my family was concerned with my moving to rural Indiana and the challenges I could face as a gay man. We weren’t sure what to expect. I remained closeted for the first year, but I continued to look for a way to connect with my community. Novo Nordisk’s LGBTQ2+ employee resource group (ERG), NovoEqual, really spoke to me. I quickly realized it was a safe space. My boss and his wife even joined me at a Pride event in Indiana which meant so much to me.”

As he became more involved with the ERG, Sebastian became a co-lead and realized he had the opportunity to help build and grow the NovoEqual community within the organization.  

“The goal is to connect and expand our communities at the different sites across the US, not only within the NovoEqual groups, but across other ERGs. Our Veteran and Military ERG is even cohosting one of our Pride events this year focusing on the experience of an openly gay veteran and his ability to lead through adversity. In the past our other ERGs, including our Hispanic and Latin American group have equally cohosted events.  It’s that kind of alliance and intersectionality that I love – I get to learn about other communities and celebrate my own.”

When it comes to the successful expansion of NovoEqual to Novo Nordisk sites across the US, Sebastian credits the growth to all the allies, community members and leadership teams.

“In the past few years we have seen our ERGs grow not just in the US but across many of our global sites,” he shares.