At SAS, we have a multidimensional culture that blends our different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives from employees around the globe. We want everyone to feel confident in expressing their ideas and know that they will be respected for their unique contributions and abilities. We seek out diverse talent, because at SAS, it’s not about fitting into the culture – it’s about adding to it.
Our own Bennett McAuley is an Associate Technical Writer and leadership council member of our PRIDE employee inclusion group. He’s also transgender, and affirms himself as a man. Read on to learn more about Bennett’s personal and professional journey and why he loves working at SAS!
From college to career: Bennett’s story
One day, when I was in middle school, my mom brought home a SAS programming book. She was learning to program in SAS – a programming language (and company) that I’d never heard of before. I learned more about SAS' tech and workplace culture, and have been a fan ever since.
At that time, I was in the process of deciding what to study in college. I had always been good at math, so I decided to go that route – and ended up finding a passion for statistics. After obtaining my degree, my goal was to either work at SAS, or go to graduate school… and then work at SAS.
In my formative teenage years, choosing a college and major wasn’t the only decision I was struggling with. I - like many teenagers - was also battling with my own identity, but this wasn’t something that most teenagers deal with. To put it simply, my entire life I seemed content and happy living as a girl, but I realized as time went on, that became more and more untrue. It took all four years of high school to understand the implications of that before I was able to do anything about it, causing a lot of distress.
In college, I spent a lot of time volunteering with our campus’ LBGTA Center, focusing on programs revolving around transgender issues. I took pride in being able to educate people who were unaware of what the experience truly entails, not what society may lead one to believe. There was a lot of unlearning and re-learning how to socialize myself as I grew into being perceived as male, even though my name and records reflected something different at the time. I also started my physical transition to further affirm my identity and alleviate gender dysphoria – distress caused when a person’s assigned birth gender is not the same as the one with which they identify
As I gained more independence and confidence in college, I decided to give dating a shot. So, I did what any millennial would do in such a time - I tried a dating app. After some lackluster and unsuccessful attempts, I was lucky to find my wonderful partner, Derrick. We've been together for over 4 years now, and are happily engaged.
My journey to SAS
Speaking of success – during my last semester of undergrad, I began applying for graduate programs and full-time jobs. During that time, I attended SAS’ annual HBCU STEM Connect event. The event brought together SAS employees and HBCU students for an evening of networking, mentorship and learning. Attending students were encouraged to apply early, so I applied that same evening. I progressed through SAS’ interview process and received (and accepted) an offer to join the SAS Documentation division!
I was ecstatic. I’d made the dream, right out of college. And my experience at SAS has been everything I’d hoped it would be.
Living (and loving!) the #saslife
SAS has made me feel welcomed and unapologetic about who I am. Before I had the opportunity to legally change my name, SAS recruiters called me before my start date to ask what name I used and made sure it was reflected everywhere it could be in our internal systems. The benefits we have here are top-notch for people like me. Derrick and I are considered same-sex domestic partners, and he’s covered under my health insurance. That’s not something all couples like us can claim. Having that option is invaluable, and we didn’t have to jump through a bunch of legal hoops to get it. My manager and team members have been nothing but supportive and unassuming. In the year I’ve been at SAS, I’ve also gotten involved in our LBGTQ+ employee inclusion group. The group (called “PRIDE”), focuses on creating a safe and welcoming network for LGBTQ+ employees and allies, focused on equality and inclusion. I am excited to be one of the leadership council members driving the group’s mission forward to encourage others to be proud of who they are and more inclusive.
Out 4 Undergrad Tech
Last fall, I had the opportunity to represent SAS at Out 4 Undergrad Tech, a conference for young LBGTQ+ technical minds. I served as a mentor to ten brilliant and curious transgender students, who were just as concerned about the professional world as I was a year ago.
The awesome thing about working for a company like SAS is that we’re striving for a culture that welcomes talent from all walks of life, and we celebrate the differences that make us who we are. Being able to relay that to people outside the organization and see their reactions of excitement and hope was an experience that will stick with me as I continue to carve my own path.
Thank you, Bennett, for sharing your story! Ready to make SAS a part of your story? Check out SAS.com/diversity, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and the ‘gram to keep up with all things SAS.