The year 2021 marks the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall uprisings in New York City, one of the most pivotal displays of LGBTQ+ resistance in U.S. history. Rioters at Stonewall were tired of having limitations placed on their livelihoods and means of self-expression. A year after those initial uprisings, the first Pride march took place on June 28, 1970, in New York City to celebrate the varied identities within the LGBTQ+ community that make it so great. The Stonewall uprisings, and the fearless leadership of people like Marsha P. Johnson, an activist, AIDS advocate, and iconic figure within the community, helped lead to June’s designation as Pride Month, a time to celebrate and reflect on the LGBTQ+ leaders and innovators who make our world a better place to live in. Each year around Pride, companies from across the business community participate and highlight their efforts to support the LGBTQ+ community. However, organizations must be bold in their support of diverse communities and welcoming of identities all year, not only in June.
Businesses, including the tech industry, have a responsibility to people from marginalized backgrounds to elevate their stories with nuance and thoughtful reflection and to avoid further stigmatizing communities that are already disenfranchised. At first glance, confronting assumptions about diverse communities can be challenging; however, it's not an impossible task, and it's necessary for further progress that truly levels the playing field. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, non-binary, and transgender lives aren't unfamiliar with adversity; this community is united under a shared struggle for acceptance and equity both in and out of the workplace. The Biden Administration has made strides to protect gay and transgender people in schools, healthcare, and the workplace by signing executive orders – efforts ITI supports and applauds.
Despite the incremental changes to address workplace inclusion, it is paramount for the tech community to continue to invest in LGBTQ+ talent and make the necessary accommodations, so people from this community feel supported and recognized for their hard work and achievements and not limited by conforming to heteronormative standards. Here are some, but not all, of the ways ITI's members are showing their support and engaging in thoughtful dialogue about Pride Month and other initiatives meant to support the LGBTQ+ community year-round:
Google created the #IAmRemarkable community-building campaign to uplift and encouraged the LGBTQ+ community to share their achievements in the workplace and beyond. This initiative centers the lived experiences of the community and prioritizes amplifying diverse, queer voices as a means of providing more visibility and representation for young people across the spectrum.
Accenture has committed to making their work environment more inclusive by producing a report, Getting to Equal: Visible Growth, Invisible Fears, on the unseen challenges LGBTQ+ employees face and how corporations can rectify these longstanding issues to provide a better work experience for employees from all backgrounds. A salient takeaway from the report discovered that "only 31% of LGBTQ+ employees are fully open about their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation at work." To that end, Accenture maintains that “nurturing inclusivity” is necessary to unleash innovation within organizations and tap into the fullest potential of your employees.
Intel has been a staunch supporter of the LGBT+ community since 90s with IGLOBE, a resource group for employees and allies. Additionally, starting in 1997, the organization provided health insurance and benefits to domestic same-sex partners. Continuing with the momentum, Intel released an influential Pride Month blog on the importance of celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace openly and without limitations every day. The piece also touched on the performative nature of corporations during Pride Month and reminded us all to remember the true reason for celebrating, not the flashy colors or the glitter and rainbows, but celebrating the game-changers and the everyday folks who've made Pride possible while being cognizant that to some, the existence of the LGBTQ+ community is an act of resistance.
Mastercard has made it possible for everyone to embrace their true self by allowing transgender and non-binary cardholders to use their 'True Name' on their credit or debit cards because often the name on that card doesn't always reflect their current identity and can be a painful reminder of the conflict between their former identity and the person they were destined to be.
Oracle joined more than 100 other companies in signing the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ State Legislation, which represents clear opposition to legislation intended to restrict the access of LGBTQ people in society. As the company looks to expand its workforce in Nashville, a city whose state has moved forward with enacting new laws that target transgender people, Oracle remains committed to building relationships with LGBTQ+ agencies not only in Tennessee but in all locations where employees reside.
One of the most effective ways to support and include LGBTQ+ professionals is for the business community, including tech, and the government to facilitate meaningful opportunities for people from all backgrounds to flourish and succeed. For example, companies including Amazon and Adobe have developed internal efforts to support their internal LGBTQ+ workforce.
Together, we can promote a diverse and inclusive environment in our workforces, neighborhoods, and communities, and in the progressive policies we implement. Sustaining our sense of Pride and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community long after June is over is paramount for that effort to be authentic and meaningful, and to truly celebrate the differences that make our workforce strong.