Blog Post

Lessons Learned From A Powerful Pride Webinar

By Jess Kramer
June 23, 2021

Seramount celebrated Pride Month with our Diversity Best Practices member webinar on June 16. The event offered inspiration and motivation while also providing practical tips and tools to empower individuals, ERGs and organizations to do their best work to support the LGBTQ+ community both at their companies and in the communities in which they serve.

Marcelo Vasquez, Senior Director, Global Member Advisory Services at Seramount, facilitated an uplifting program which didn’t shy away from addressing some obstacles and challenges that LGBTQ people routinely face while offering tangible solutions and strategies to cultivate more inclusive cultures.

Throughout the course of the program, we heard from 3 powerful speakers:

Yasha Lelonek, a 21-year-old Afro-Latina trans woman who is an Actor, Director, Model, and Multimedia Visual Artist, holding a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts.

Lelonek’s work tells gender-expansive stories through performance, film and painted-photography, engaging in a practice of advocacy for other trans and gender-expansive people of color.

She shared her thoughts on the experiences of trans people in the US who are constantly navigating the binary framework that often constitutes corporations and educational institutions. Lelonek shared her perspective that this is often not an act of blatant exclusion but a natural consequence of heteronormative systems that have not considered trans people.

Tips and Takeaways from Yasha:

  • To remedy LGBTQ+ exclusion, we must start at the individual level and begin by interrogating our own understanding of gender and their unconscious biases
  • To hold companies accountable from a policy perspective, compare what they offer on paper to what LGBTQ+ folks receive in practice, and advocate for oneself if there is a discrepancy, whether that’s through emails, letters, or garnering support.
  • For allies, being proactive in listening to feedback from LGBTQ+ people and creating ways for them to advocate for themselves is of the utmost importance.
  • Watch the documentary Disclosure on Netflix for an exploration of trans representation in media and how it has offered damaging stereotypes of trans people.
  • Educate yourself, challenge your worldview, and extend empathy and allyship as our nation works to rectify the injustice and inequities faced by trans people.

Lelonek left the audience with inspiring parting words from a friend of hers who said, “Trans people have the gift of self-awareness, and if there’s anything we can share with our cisgender brothers and sisters, it is to know thyself is to love thyself.”

Alejandra Segura is the Senior Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Executive at Telefónica Hispam, based in Colombia.

Segura shared how Telefónica Hispam is part of Pride Connection Colombia, a group of HR, DEI & LGBTQ+ ERG leaders from 40+ organizations whose objective is to share, strengthen and promote best practices focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion. Diversity Best Practices member companies that are involved with the group include EY, GE, Johnson & Johnson, JPMorgan Chase & Co, MSD (Merck), Novartis, Oracle, Otis, Pfizer, Procter and Gamble, Sodexo and Unilever.

Telefónica’s collaboration with Pride Connection Colombia opened up avenues for the company to share their learnings with others and strengthen their offerings to their own employees. Telefonica placed second on Colombia’s LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce’s most inclusive company list and was recognized as a “safe space” for members of the LGBTQ+ community by the Bogotá Mayor’s Office. Segura shared how she, as a bisexual woman, is comfortable being her authentic self at work.

How Telefónica Supports Their LGBTQ+ Community:

  • Offering educational workshops on everything from legal aspects of LGBTQ+ workers for HR to customer service protocol for their LGBTQ+ clients.
  • LGBTQ+ employees share their insights on internal company platforms worldwide and participate in Pride marches at the capital.
  • Extensive benefits offered to LGBTQ+ workers to help guarantee an inclusive workplace culture, including parental, marriage, bereavement, miscarriage, family emergency and school-related paid leaves that are equal for LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ employees.

Randie Caetano-Cadigan is in Business Development and Strategy, Northeast at Beacon Health Options, which is a part of Anthem. She also Chairs the Health Equity Committee of their Pride BRG. Randie is a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community and a parent to an LGBTQ+ child.

She shared that Anthem was recognized as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality from 2016-2020 and has a number of new initiatives they are launching in support of LGBTQ+ inclusive healthcare. In partnership with the Human Rights Campaign, who provided a trans inclusion in the workplace toolkit, the company has developed new gender affirmation guidelines. They have also cultivated national partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations including The Fenway Health Institute, GLMA (Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality) and The Trevor Project.

The spotlight of her session was on Inclusive Care, a soon-to-be launched program for large employer groups designed by and for LGBTQ+ individuals to offer inclusive and comprehensive healthcare for LGBTQ individuals. The Anthem Pride BRG was invited to brainstorm solutions and share their own experiences and was a driving force behind this initiative. There was buy-in from senior leadership at the beginning because of the feedback from their clients and members.

What’s next for Anthem is new developments around non-binary gender identification, telehealth options for primary care, and adoption, surrogacy, and fertility clinics for LGBTQ+ individuals.

At the end of the webinar, attendees were left with a bevy of rich resources to bring back to their organizations on supporting LGBTQ+ employees, clients and communities. They were also charged by Lelonek to be in a constant process of learning and unlearning, to be a student by engaging with trans history and humanity, and to engage in active allyship by “teaching and caring with consciousness.”

This webinar was held for Diversity Best Practices member organizations. Become a member today!

About the Author

Jess Kramer
Associate Director, Event Programming