Celebrating Pride Month is important now more than ever because of the mounting attacks on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community across the globe, and our annual Pride Month webinar for Diversity Best Practices members made sure to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community to the fullest. All our member heritage month webinars are moderated by a Seramount expert who personally relates to the topic or identifies with the dimension of diversity being celebrated. This month’s moderator was Managing Director James Cowling, who started the webinar by introducing himself as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. He set the stage by sharing that although marriage equality is on the rise globally, with 34 countries legalizing same-sex marriage, the trajectory of LGBTQ+ rights in the United States has declined sharply in the past eight years. There are 491 anti-LGBTQ+ legislation initiatives in progress across the United States.
With states like Florida passing increasingly restrictive laws, traveling to certain states has become daunting. To help calm this panic, James has written a blog post, “Three Ways the Travel and Tourism Industry Can Create a More Inclusive Experience.” It’s important for the LGBTQ+ community to stand together with allies to demonstrate the strength of the community.
Next, James introduced the keynote speaker, Hope Giselle, who spoke on “The Importance of Intersectionality in the Workplace and Society.” Intersectionality is the point where your life and someone else’s connect. She spoke about her personal experience as a Black trans woman who was discriminated against in the workplace because she didn’t wear makeup in the office one day. She was fired from this job shortly afterward because her coworkers felt uncomfortable. She took this experience and began her activist work in helping corporations be a safer place for LGBTQ+ employees. She closed out her talk by stating the importance of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in the workplace because they serve as a way for queer employees to connect with senior leaders and work together to make these spaces safe and respectable.
Pride ERGs in Action
The next two speakers, Richard Mihalic from Allstate Insurance and Katie Spitzel from Freddie Mac, spoke on the important work that their companies’ ERGs do for their LGBTQ+ employees. Richard talked about how Allstate has ten active Employee Impact Groups (EIGs) and two active Business Impact Groups (BIGs), one of which is the PRIDE EIG. The purpose of PRIDE is to create a safe and supportive community for LGBTQ+ employees to thrive personally and professionally. All ten of the EIGs align with Allstate’s strategic pillars of business practices, culture, people, and community. All EIGs have a board structure so that employee volunteers have real titles that reflect the time and talent they give to the EIG. PRIDE EIG programming has a strong strategy behind it that is split between education, storytelling, and community building. There are learning and development courses for all employee levels to engage with specific PRIDE educational sources. Storytelling allows for LGBTQ+ employees to have a safe space for employees to tell their real-life experiences of being queer in the workspace. Community building combines affinity and virtual efforts to keep people connected in a workforce that is almost completely virtual.
Katie then started her talk about Freddie Mac’s Pride Business Resource Group (BRG) and how their work has positively impacted Freddie Mac’s bottom line. The company noticed that the BRGs needed a proper organizational structure to get the work done. The BRGs are structured like Allstate with real titles and leadership so that the employee volunteers are effective with their time and talents. Four of the Pride Committee’s goals are:
- Improve inclusive language on job applications.
- Make LGBTQ+ status to qualify for DEI scorecard metrics.
- Reinstate detailed LGBTQ+ data on DEI reports.
- Aid with pronoun adoption company-wide.
These goals will help make Freddie Mac a more inclusive workplace and have already made an impact. Pronoun options have been added to Workday and in email signatures. Employee applications have become more inclusive by adding more gender options and developing self-ID options. The company has even partnered with companies such as The GenderCool Project and Seramount to help keep their DEI progress on an upward trend.
If you are interested in learning more about how ERGs can help support queer employees or want to become a Diversity Best Practices member to attend webinars like this one, contact us.