GAVIN DIETZ: CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
This Wednesday, March 2, our small team at Wattwatchers will be welcoming Grace Young to our ranks.
She will be resuming in the senior management role of Chief Innovation Officer (CIO).
I say ‘resuming’, because Grace has worked with Wattwatchers for several years and, under the name Grant Young, has held the CIO position since 2020.
Some weeks ago Grant told me that he is a transgender person currently in transition, and intends to proceed in life identifying as a woman.
Thus we welcome Grace Clare Young. A fresh identity… a familiar person.
Her decision is deeply personal and we support her choice without reservation.
But of course there are many questions, for me and for others.
Foremost among them are: How do we best embrace this evolution for one of our own? How do we support Grace at every step? And how do we help our team and others we work with to adapt as well?
In the past few days I have been sharing this news with the Wattwatchers team – staff, shareholders and Board – and with relevant contractors, suppliers, customers and partners in the Wattwatchers ecosystem.
There is a lot of love for our colleague, whose professionalism and empathy are well known to all. And there is a great willingness from the team to learn and adapt with her.
Grace has made this a lot easier for us by introducing herself with a personal blog, ‘Grace Notes’, a video, and a courageous series of answers to ‘frequently asked questions.’
You can access this yourself here, and you can go deep into Grace’s journey thanks to her brave, warm and comprehensive personal account.
I recommend doing this if, like me, you really want to understand how Grace has come to join us, and what she wants and expects from us, and for herself, in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Whether it’s as simple as her preferred pronouns (she/her), or as complex as her highly personal reflections and next steps in the transition process, Grace is open and honest to the extreme.
It’s your choice how much more you want or need to know, but I wanted to share a brief window into her account, in her own words, because for many people this may well be all you need to know. She says:
Don’t worry. I am the same person you have known and (I hope) appreciated. It’s just that I am now able to be more fully me and you’ll appreciate me even more! I hope you’ll find this is just a natural evolution, where I can share more of who I am.
Certainly, nothing changes with the roles and responsibilities of her role.
In shaping our response – at Grace’s request, and with her active involvement in the process – we are following the model approach provided by The Gender Centre for transitioning in the workplace.
The Gender Centre describes its role this way: We support trans and gender expressive people at every stage of their journey as they explore and live their authentic sense of self.
I don’t shy away from the fact that as a manager, and as a friend, Grace’s decision has put me on the spot, in sensitive territory. I welcome that. But it can also be confronting and challenging in some ways.
I’ve had to learn quickly and open my mind to issues I’ve not had to engage deeply with in my past. These are important and very human issues, which society, more broadly, is still learning about and processing.
With all this in mind, if anything in this news unsettles or concerns you, whether at a personal or business relationship level, I am here to talk with you, and so is Grace.
We recognise that Grace’s journey, and how Wattwatchers and others engage with and support her, might be of wider interest to a range of people and organisations.
To the full extent that we can, while respecting Grace and what she wants and is comfortable with, we’ll be available to share our company’s experience with others who may also need to prepare for, or manage their own team members transitioning in the workplace.
FOOTNOTE: As our Employee Handbook makes clear, Wattwatchers is an equal opportunity employer. Responsibility for upholding this extends across our entire team, and we are proactive about maintaining our commitment: Wattwatchers believes that all staff should be able to work in an environment free from discrimination, victimisation, sexual harassment, vilification and the seeking of unnecessary information on which discrimination might be based. We consider these behaviours unacceptable and they will not be tolerated.