Celebrating Pride is much more than a weekend of parade floats, pink taffeta, and rainbows. It’s rooted in political activism, centered on the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Those celebrating have different reasons for showing off their pride, but it often shares a common link, too.
While companies often have good intentions with Pride festivities, they can just as easily miss the mark. If they’re not clear on the reasons why they’re celebrating, and if they don’t have a bigger goal in mind, celebrating and acknowledging Pride becomes more of a checklist item instead of part of a greater movement towards progress. Here’s why we celebrate Pride at Ceridian, and how we’re doing it.
We created and formalized an employee resource group (ERG) in 2017 as an important first step in building out our Pride community. Educating others outside of the group is important, but that can’t happen without a strong foundation first. The goal of establishing our ERG was to create cohesion – connect to each other and get to know each other.
What are all the different roles we play in our company? Though we’re dispersed across many different states, provinces and countries, how can we create a common link to one another in celebrating Pride together at work, where it may be new to some of us?
When we asked our members why they celebrate Pride, there was a consistent message in all their responses: solidarity, community, and support. It’s a moving event – you’re surrounded by people who accept you for who you are, or who have perhaps experienced similar difficulties to yours. You can drop your conscious or subconscious cloak of awareness and just be. Everyone wants to feel safe at work, and having a strong and established community contributes to that.
A point that’s often missed in diversity initiatives is that it’s not about the act of celebrating or acknowledging various groups – it’s about understanding why.
From a work perspective, we want our colleagues to understand each other – and this is where companies have part of the responsibility in emphasizing inclusion.
As Brian Silva, the founder and executive director of the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) says in this FastCompany article, “People respond when they see themselves reflected in their institutions: whether community or corporate. It shows you are making an effort to engage the communities you serve. Celebrating, learning about and being involved in diverse communities, increases the likelihood those communities will return that respect with their patronage.”
This month, we’re holding a webinar to share various employees’ Pride stories – how they’re celebrating, why they celebrate, and some of their challenges. The more people share their story, the more their colleagues can understand or relate to them, and celebrate with them.
The notion of Pride isn’t relegated to any one office, region, or country. Sometimes, and especially in progressive cities or with supportive work environments, our perspectives can be insular, or we forget that all of our experiences aren’t the same. We’re all learning.
We’re a diverse workforce – beyond having multiple offices and locations, our organization is incredibly diverse. Creating a platform for all LGBTQ employees to share their experiences, revel in celebrations worldwide, share best practices and come together is part of being a truly global community.
It also sheds light on how much work we still need to do. Addressing inclusion on a global scale is an eye-opening experience for everyone, from understanding challenges some employees face that others take for granted, to thinking about creative ways to maintain visibility beyond Pride month. It puts us at the forefront of change and acceptance everywhere.
Thoughtful and progressive companies recognize that Pride isn’t only about celebrating for a month. And, it’s not about shining a spotlight or putting employees on display for the sake of communicating a high-level message.
We’re all humans. Inclusivity should be natural. That means it should feel organic for an LGBTQ partner to come to a work event, or to be referenced in a conversation with colleagues about weekend plans. It means, over time, reducing unconscious bias, and letting go of assumptions and stereotypes. It means starting and continuing to have challenging conversations about things like pronoun usage and dress code, and pushing for seemingly small changes that have significant long-term impact.
At Ceridian, we’re proud to be celebrating the long game, and the day-to-day game of LGBTQ equality.