How 2 Colorado Companies Are Celebrating Pride in June — and All Year Long
It’s the time many have been waiting for all year: Pride Month.
For members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual communities, the month-long celebration is a time to reflect on hardships, celebrate progress, and acknowledge and fight for communities that are still ostracized. For allies, it’s a time to listen and empathize with members of these communities, as well as signal support.
Especially over the past decade, this social movement has gained recognition from companies across the country and around the world, and these firms have effectively become allies. But what makes an ally an ally? How can a company truly support the individual members of the LGBTQIA+ community during this month and beyond?
“You can’t anoint yourself as an ally,” wrote leadership expert Jill Geisler in a post on the Freedom Forum Institute. “Others make that determination about you, one individual at a time.”
Under this logic, it’s not up to companies to determine whether or not they’re allies. Indeed, with a press release or a social media post, any business can dress up their efforts and co-opt allyship for social currency. And those empty promises and ineffective approaches can lead to the distrust and the degradation of a movement that uplifts the rights of millions.
Rather, the weight of a company’s actions speaks to that support. The more inclusive and thoughtful an organization is and the more tangible its efforts are, the more it can build and maintain allyship. Show your support — don’t simply announce it.
Two local companies, Healthgrades and Peaksware, have taken the latter approach to allyship and have built a concrete means of expressing it. In a conversation with Built In Colorado, leaders from both companies shared how they’ve established an inclusive culture — from employee resource groups to inclusive policies and benefits to opportunities for education — and how those efforts extend to employees well beyond the month of June.
Employee resource groups (ERGs), guest speakers and an employee council are just a few ways this healthcare resource supports members during Pride and beyond. “Cultivating an inclusive workplace is an ongoing practice at Healthgrades,” Client Development Associate Matt Clark-Sally said.
How is your company celebrating Pride throughout the month of June?
We pride ourselves on our diverse and inclusive workplace. From our core values to our active employee council, Healthgrades Inclusion and Diversity (HGID), to our ERG that addresses LGBTQ+ equality, Healthgrades is committed to creating an environment that respects and appreciates all differences as we recognize the diverse world in which we live and work. We're sponsoring a companywide event featuring guest speaker Sandy Eichel, an advocate on creating an authentic and inclusive culture, on the topic of the power of allyship.
Additionally, employees can show support by wearing Pride colors and sharing on our Slack and social channels. Our social media profile images will display pride-inspired logos. Employees will have access to festive branded pride Zoom backgrounds. We’ll be hosting a companywide virtual movie screening of “Screaming Queens,” a documentary about transgender women and drag queens who fought police harassment in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood in 1966. We’ll encourage employees to support local LGBTQ+ organizations by highlighting resources in our monthly newsletter series, Spotlight on a Cause.
We are committed to continuing the conversation about supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.”
Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports the LGBTQIA+ community and empowers LGBTQIA+ members of your team?
Healthgrades is focused on cultivating a workplace where everyone can contribute, feel a sense of belonging and feel respected. Creating a truly inclusive environment means that we are aware of our biases and how they affect our relationships.
Each employee is required to complete bias awareness training during their first two weeks at Healthgrades. Additionally, we encourage employees to get involved with Healthgrades' employee-led council, HGID, dedicated to creating a workplace of inclusion and empowerment for all. The council and LGBTQ+ ERG focus on improving our culture from within by engaging employees around key issues, communications and events for the LGBTQ+ community and allies. We also have a company-wide Slack channel that is focused on sharing thoughts, questions and inputs from employees about conversations surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. We regularly feature employees from our HGID and LGBTQIA+ councils in our weekly internal newsletter, The Pulse.
Cultivating an inclusive workplace is an ongoing practice at Healthgrades. We are committed to continuing the conversation about supporting the LGBTQIA+ community.
For this publishing and training software company, being an advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights means being attuned to the larger community and translating that into an inclusive experience for employees. “Our company encourages employees to be educated and inclusive advocates, allies and community members by providing support and opportunities for empowerment,” Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition Lisa Betzer said.
How is your company celebrating Pride throughout the month of June?
In order to kick off our Pride initiatives, we pulled together a small group of employee volunteers to serve as a sounding board and provide input as our plans were being devised. As a result of that effort, Peaksware and our brands are celebrating Pride month in two ways.
We are hosting a companywide presentation led by Michal Duffy, the education and program manager for Out Boulder, called, “Beyond the Binary: LGBTQ Concepts, Etiquette and Allyship.” During this hour-long Zoom presentation, Michal will discuss the difference and relationship between sex assigned at birth, gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation.
Our Pride team will be taking over Slack, our primary means of corporate communication, for the entire month. We are creating Pride-themed emojis and sharing weekly educational pieces on various topics related to Pride Month.
Beyond the month of June, what are some examples of ways your company supports or advocates for the LGBTQIA+ community?
Peaksware recognizes that supporting the LGBTQIA+ community shouldn't be a trend or tied to a single month. In an effort to bring awareness and advocacy to the community all year round, here are some additional examples of how we are supporting our colleagues and the community in our daily lives:
We are currently constructing a beautiful new office space in Louisville. The office will feature an onsite fitness facility where we have opted to include single capacity, gender-neutral locker rooms to ensure all bodies feel safe and supported.
We leverage a structured interview process to mitigate unconscious bias from creeping into our recruiting and hiring decisions.
We host mini-trainings with supervisors to practice utilizing inclusive language.
Previously, our human capital management system required gender conformity. Our HR administrator, Kaitlyn Reid, actively worked with them to get a non-binary option included.
The health benefits offered to employees are inclusive of all spouses, regardless of gender. All four of our medical plans cover hormone replacement therapy.
We are currently working with Senior Human Capital Consultant and Leadership Coach Makeda Brown.
How does your company support and empower the LGBTQIA+ members of your team?
We celebrate each employee’s uniqueness wherever possible. Our company encourages employees to be educated and inclusive advocates, allies and community members by providing support and opportunities for empowerment. One example is our new parental leave policy, which is inclusive of all genders and representations of the word parent. It includes both adoptive parents and birth parents. In the previous policy, non-birth parents received only one week of leave, which has now been upped to a month. This can make a huge difference in bonding time.
Overall, Peaksware is dedicated to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees without discrimination. We have a harassment-free workplace policy and are committed to a work environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity.