Last year at Pride parades across the country, we celebrated the Supreme Court’s order to federally recognize marriage equality. The events of the weekend were marked by joy; a feeling of finally being recognized; a sense of progress. Only one year later, the mood has shifted 180.
This year’s Pride will almost certainly be remembered as a tribute to the lives lost in Orlando. Never has our work towards inclusion and acceptance felt so important. This year, parades will be remembered for the increased security; a subconscious hesitance to join large crowds; but most importantly, they will be remembered by the members of the community who joined together in spite of this and proved that love, not fear, always wins.
We are so excited to see our partners supporting the Orlando community, sponsoring LGBT causes, and marching in Pride parades throughout the country. Corporations have become more and more involved with Pride festivities in recent years and we, for one, are so proud to see this progress.
Why is it important for companies to publically support the LGBT community? Why should companies partake in Pride festivities? When Disney donated $1million dollars in response to Orlando, they proved that they are not just a company that is interested in tapping into the LGBT market but one that is committed to the well-being of the LGBT community. When thousands gathered at Universal Studios and raised their wands for a Harry Potter World employee who died in the shooting, NBCUniversal & Comcast were honoring the life of an LGBT person. When our partner companies gather their employees to march, they are showing everyone that their workplaces are diverse and inclusive and welcoming.
When companies come out as LGBT allies and stand strong to their commitment to diversity & inclusion, they provide a safe space for their employees to be their authentic selves. The harsh reality is that since there is no state protection against LGBT discrimination in Florida, employees could be seen at the gay club on Saturday and fired on Monday. In 1996, when Out & Equal was founded, less than 4% of Fortune 500 companies had policies in place that protected against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That number has now increased to over 93%. Progress is happening within corporate America at a significantly faster rate than it is on state or federal level. A lot can change in 20 years.
We look forward to standing strong with our community in Orlando at the 2016 Workplace Summit this October. It has been so meaningful to receive notes from companies all over the world the past few weeks who have told us that they are standing up on our behalf in the wake of this tragedy. We were so proud to join all our partners at the CIA, Mass Mutual, the ICE and the USDA this week for their internal Pride celebrations and to have our CEO, Selisse Berry, speak on the state of LGBT equality.
This Pride, it is important to remember the progress that we have made in the last 20 years. We are united as ever and will continue to fight for LGBT equality in and out of the workplace. Wherever you celebrate Pride this weekend, do so authentically, safely, and proudly, letting everyone know that #lovewins.
“MGM Resorts joins our nation in extending our prayers and support to the victims and families of this atrocity. We stand with the Orlando community in support of all who have been impacted by this monstrous act of inhumanity. We likewise stand with the President as he encourages all Americans to respond to this act of hate and terror by remembering and practicing humanity toward each other each and every day.”
– Phyllis A. James, MGM Resorts International
“As a proud supporter of the LGBT community, MillerCoors is deeply saddened by the tragedy that took place in Orlando this past weekend. While our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims and their families, we wanted to do more to support one of the leading organizations that is on the front lines of helping to heal the Orlando community.”
– Pete Marino & Brad Schwartz, MillerCoors
“First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with you and the rest of the Out & Equal community. I’m rarely at a loss for words but I’ve been struggling to come up with any at this time. As I vacillate between anger and sadness following the Orlando events, my thoughts also turn to Out & Equal’s Summit in Orlando in October. The events have strengthened our resolve to ensure that this year’s Summit is a symbol to all that hate will not triumph over love.”
– Michael Muñoz, Aetna
“At times like this, our best response is to ground ourselves in our values of diversity and inclusion. In October, Xerox and GALAXE Pride at Work plan to participate again this year with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, already scheduled for Orlando. Given the tragic events of this weekend, joining together in Orlando will be even more meaningful, to support their community and to continue our work for LGBT equality.”
– John Curtis & Lisa Jensen, Xerox