More Than a Parade: How to Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Inclusion All Year Long

Four companies share how they support and honor their LGBTQIA+ colleagues during Pride month and throughout the year.

Written by Brigid Hogan
Published on Jun. 01, 2022
 More Than a Parade: How to Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Inclusion All Year Long
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Riot. Parade. Party. Revolution. Pride has a kaleidoscope of identities that reflect the diverse LGBTQIA+ community it honors and celebrates. This June, we expect over a million attendees to return to celebrate the return of Chicago’s Pride Parade and festivals for the first time since 2019.

Here in Chicago, Pride is part of a vibrant history of LGBTQIA+ activism and resistance. In the early 20th century, an LGBTQIA+ community flourished alongside artists and political radicals in the area we now know as the Magnificent Mile. Decades later, about 200 activists gathered in the heart of this same neighborhood to begin the 1970 Gay Liberation March, considered Chicago’s first Pride. In 2021, the Human Rights Commission Municipal Equality Index rated Chicago 100, a perfect score, for the policies, services and laws that protect and support LGBTQIA+ Chicagoans.

Pride is a reminder that this progress has been and continues to be the work of activists building a more inclusive and equitable Chicago for their communities across the city, whether at home, at work or at play.

Built In Chicago spoke with five area companies about how their inclusion work honors the legacy of Pride while continuing to promote greater equity at work and within their communities.

 

Lucas Deloach
Director, Employment Counsel • Upwork

 

Upwork is a Chicago-based work marketplace that connects companies with freelancers.

 

How is your company celebrating or recognizing Pride throughout the month of June?

I always look forward to Pride Month at Upwork. Up&Out, led by our wonderful Upwork Belonging Communities (UBC) leads Mollee Marcus and Alex Morris, has planned a series of virtual events throughout June, and I'm excited about a few in particular. A "Queer Careers" panel will highlight LGBTQIA+ success in the workplace and provide a forum to discuss what it means to bring your whole self to work. There's also going to be a session to celebrate and build understanding of asexual spectrum identities. And we’ll have a trivia game to amplify the history of Pride, complete with a drag performance. Up&Out members will also get together at a number of in-person pride events around the US!

 

Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Upwork has created a talent badge that empowers LGBTQIA+-owned businesses on our platform to leverage their external certifications and attract clients who value supplier diversity. This badge is an act of support for our freelancer community, which gets to our mission of creating economic opportunities so people have better lives.

Internally, the Up&Out UBC certainly does not go dormant before or after Pride Month. We are an active, engaged community of LGBTQIA+ folks and allies all year long!

Belonging is a feeling, inclusion is a practice and diversity is an outcome.”

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team? 

As a gay man, I am so grateful to be part of a legal team that creates space and safety for authenticity at work. It’s the result of working with some really incredible team members who lead by example in expressing their own truth and vulnerabilities but also of the broader culture at Upwork. As Dr. Erin Thomas, our head of diversity, inclusion and belonging (DIBS), will tell you, belonging is a feeling, inclusion is a practice and diversity is an outcome. Erin and her team foster opportunities to practice inclusion and feel belonging through programs like Upstanders that focus on inclusion skill-building and habit formation.

 

 

Dominick Duda
Sr. Research Analyst • G2

 

G2 is a popular software marketplace, helping 60 million people every year make smarter software decisions based on authentic peer reviews.  

 

How is your company celebrating or recognizing Pride throughout the month of June? 

G2’s LGBTQIA+ and Allies ERG celebrates Pride Month through a combination of weekly events, curated media, and educational resources. This year, our first Pride event will be a book club in collaboration with our Latinx and Allies ERG, discussing Hola Papi by LGBTQIA+ advice columnist, John Paul Brammer. The event will be an opportunity to dive deeper into intersectional voices within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

We are also planning a fireside chat with a notable drag artist in India to share their experience of being authentically queer in a culture that is not as readily accepting compared in other countries. About one-third of G2’s employees are located outside of the U.S., and we aim to be as inclusive as possible to avoid a purely American-centric view of LGBTQIA+ representation.

Our biggest Pride event of the year is our annual Drag Show, where G2 employees submit pre-recorded drag performances and compete for prizes. Hosted by Chicago drag artist Connor Konz, the event also includes paid performances of other local drag artists. Last year marked the inaugural G2 drag show, and the event has been repeatedly brought up by G2ers for its positive impact.

 

Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?

G2 Gives, G2’s philanthropic arm, partners with two organizations year-round that support the LGBTQIA+ community: Brave Space Alliance—a Black-led, trans-led LGBTQIA+ Center in Chicago—and OutRight Action International—an organization that uses research, advocacy, and movement resourcing to ensure human rights for LGBTQIA+ people everywhere. 

G2 matches employee contributions up to $50 per year for any organization they support. Recently, our LGBTQIA+ and Allies ERG hosted a holiday clothing drive to support The Night Ministry, a Chicago homeless shelter and services provider that works with a large LGBTQIA+ population. Beyond philanthropy, we organize fireside chats with LGBTQIA+ individuals, both internal and external, to share their stories. 

We want to continue to foster diversity and inclusivity by reaching this community and others. Our teams participate in recruiting events geared towards hiring people from underrepresented backgrounds. Most recently, G2 became a Qorporate member of Out In Tech to improve our company’s LGBTQIA+ employee representation and to identify mentoring and speaking opportunities that can benefit LGBTQIA+ techies who are seeking professional development.

We aim to be as inclusive as possible to avoid a purely American-centric view of LGBTQIA+ representation.”

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team?

One of our larger initiatives in recent years has been the Pronoun Project, to encourage more employees to display their pronouns in email signatures, in Slack, and on Zoom. Led by the G2 Brand team, we offered branded materials for employees to share their pronouns. 

Our main engagement approach to both support and empower our LGBTQIA+ employees is through year-round events and available media resources that help bring these members together to share stories and build a support network. We have also recognized important days of reflection such as Transgender Awareness Week, Bisexual Visibility Day and National Coming Out Day, with designated spaces for employees to share their experiences to their comfort level. 

Our LGBTQIA+ and Allies ERG is guided by the mission to support, celebrate, and advocate for G2’s LGBTQIA+ employees, and to help allies deepen their understanding of our community’s culture and challenges. This group seeks to empower all G2ers, regardless of orientation or gender identity, to be their authentic selves. Authenticity is one of G2’s core values that we live and celebrate together. 

 

 

 

Cade McCormick
Account Manager • Paro.ai

 

Paro connects finance and accounting specialists with companies through a proprietary AI-powered platform.

 

How is your company celebrating or recognizing Pride throughout the month of June? 

In June, Paro hosts an all-hands meeting dedicated to educating our employees on what Pride stands for and how “Pride” came to be. LGBTQIA+ history, workplace pride, anti-discrimination and how to be an ally are a few of the topics discussed. Paro also hosts an after-work team meetup for any and all employees to celebrate Pride with trivia, food and beverages and games. It brings the team together on such an important topic. Throughout the month, Paro's People Team actively engages the company with online resources, relevant workplace articles and personal testimonies are shared. We even have a dedicated “Pride” Slack channel for people to share comments, questions, experiences and challenges!

 

Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Paro has celebrated Pride for many years. One of the first employees at Paro identifies as gay, and there’s always been a spotlight on the value of a diverse workplace during the month of June. But Paro empowers and recognizes all employees year-round, including and beyond the LGBTQAI+ community. Paro injects a strong sense of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in its hiring and promotion rounds and consistently encourages all employees to participate in and contribute to DEI initiatives year-round.

 

Why share pronouns?

“Our employees are encouraged to include pronouns in email signatures, which recognizes the identity of each person and demonstrates an outward respect for all genders,” Cade McCormick, an account manager at Paro, said. Built In’s own research shows that sharing pronouns is an easy and effective way to promote an inclusive community in the workplace. Proactively sharing pronouns, especially by cisgender employees, helps build an affirming and inclusive community for their transgender and nonbinary colleagues.

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team?

Paro empowers its employees in a number of ways. There’s a genuine and consistent focus on lifting LGBTQIA+ voices up in all conversations, not just those around Pride. Paro takes “pride” in having a diverse team and emphasizing their contributions to both our internal initiatives and directly to our clients. Employees that identify with the community are also given the opportunity to speak at our annual Pride all-hands meeting. It’s always engaging and informative!

 

 

Christopher Mahoney
Training & Development Manager • Fusion Risk Management

 

Fusion Risk Management provides cloud-based software for business risk management, IT disaster recovery and crisis management.

 

How is your company celebrating or recognizing Pride throughout the month of June? 

We have a month-long celebration planned for the month of June. Our engagement is around three pillars: growth, connection and community.

Our growth pillar is focused on providing education on LGBTQIA+ issues for our team. We will have opportunities to learn about the history of Pride and the Stonewall riot, the rainbow and other community flags and their meanings, local Pride events, the importance of pronoun disclosure and a session on terminology, stereotypes and inclusion for allies.

The goal of our connection pillar is building camaraderie across our team. We will have a quiz event, share movie and tv recommendations, host virtual fireside chats and in-person events in our main city hubs. Employees are also encouraged to attend Pride events in their city.

The community pillar encourages team members to go outside of our Fusion team to participate in their area, and Fusion is doing local outreach in our main city hubs.

 

Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Fusion promotes continuous education and engages in LGBTQIA+ outreach throughout the year with monthly ERG meetings, highlighting LGBTQIA+ holidays and important dates to the community, in a dedicated Slack channel and in-person and virtual events with our LGBTQIA+ community and allies to share their stories.

We encourage our employees to bring their whole self to work and aim to support each individual on their specific journey.”

 

How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team? 

We encourage our employees to bring their whole self to work and aim to support each individual on their specific journey. We support our LGBTQIA+ employees by having open minds, open conversations and providing a safe space for their journeys and needs throughout their career at Fusion. As part of supporting employees on their journeys, we encourage everyone to join at least one ERG at Fusion and highlight ERGs as part of the onboarding experience.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via partner companies and Shutterstock.

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