How George Floyd’s Death Affected Pride Celebrations at These Companies

Leaders at companies around the country shared how they marked Pride Month in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Quinten Dol
July 2, 2020
Updated: September 29, 2020
Quinten Dol
July 2, 2020
Updated: September 29, 2020

The first Pride rallies commemorated the 1969 Stonewall Riots as a turning point for gay rights. Now, 50 years on, the killings of Tony McDade, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people have recentered many Pride celebrations around their roots: protesting systemic discrimination and police brutality against marginalized communities. While society has made more room for LGBTQ+ people in recent years, the struggle for equality and justice is far from over for many in the community. 

Because discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation often intersects with racism against Black, Indigenous and other people of color, advocacy by or on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community often works to account for these overlapping sources and systems of oppression. 

The U.S. Supreme Court only recently ruled that LGBTQ+ workers cannot be fired on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and many still face hostility in the workplace. LGBTQ+ and Black communities both experience discrimination and unequal outcomes when receiving healthcare. Dozens of transgender and gender non-conforming people are murdered each year in the United States, and the majority of them are Black transgender women, according to The Human Rights Campaign

George Floyd died shortly before Pride Month kicked off. The subsequent protests against systemic racism and police violence have continued through the June 28 anniversary of the first Pride parade. 

As this nationwide movement plays out on our streets and through our screens, many employers refocused their Pride celebrations to highlight how identities intersect and discrimination compounds. At the tail end of a tough month, leaders at companies around the country shared how they marked Pride Month this year, and how they will continue supporting their BIPOC employees and the wider movement.

 

sabrina matthews enova
Photo via Enova

Sabrina Matthews, Head of Talent Development at Enova

How did your company celebrate Pride this year?

After much discussion, our Pride @ Enova affinity group decided to put their planned Pride celebrations on hold until the fall. 

Instead, the Pride group decided to support our Black team members through this difficult time by standing in solidarity with them. Our B.L.A.C.K. @ Enova group hosted a discussion on the history of American slavery, along with a watch party and discussion of 13th, the documentary about racism and mass incarceration. Each of our affinity groups leaned in to support these events, which concluded on June 19th, when our entire organization recognized Juneteenth with a paid day off to honor pivotal moments in Black history that have long been ignored.

The Pride group wrote an internal blog series on Black transgender history and Black influence in LGBTQ+ culture and civil rights. Our Head of Benefits (also a Diversity & Inclusion Council representative for our Pride group) published an external blog post on Enova’s steps to remove all transgender and gender dysphoria-related exclusions from our medical plans.

In the fall, we plan to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride through social, education and community events that highlight Bi-Visibility Day, Coming Out Day and notable contributions and civil rights advances.

 

How did the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and other members of the Black community impact the way your company and employees approached Pride? 

We are committed to creating a culture where all employees feel safe, heard and valued. We gave team members space to process how these killings and injustices regarding the Black community have affected all of us personally. We want people to bring their whole selves to work, so it was important to acknowledge that many of our team members are represented by more than one D&I affinity group. That intersection exists within Pride @ Enova. 

Our Pride affinity group decided to prioritize supporting our Black team members, the larger Black community and organizations doing anti-racism work. All the affinity groups posted solidarity statements for both our Black and LGBTQ+ communities.

 

“Success at Enova depends on the diversity of our people.”

 

What formal resources or programming does your company provide to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC employees?

We have created a D&I network with representatives from our five affinity groups, myself and two executive sponsors. The collaboration of Pride @ Enova, our D&I Network and the broader Enova team helped us navigate a very challenging June. We were able to be there for our team members in visible and meaningful ways. And we are continuously challenged to listen and respond appropriately every time we have room to do more.

Our groups share their perspectives through in-person events, blog posts and virtual panels. Our programming includes activities that educate, inform and strengthen our everyday work, team collaboration and career opportunities. Pride @ Enova — along with our other affinity groups — appoints team members to advise on our recruiting approaches, provide education events throughout the year and host networking opportunities for LGBTQ+ and allies.

Success at Enova depends on the diversity of our people. This is the spirit behind two of our five company values: “top talent and teamwork” and “best answer wins.” Our affinity groups also give input on how Enova invests in our local Chicago community and the rest of our country. This year, Enova will donate $250,000 to organizations combating racial injustice.

 

karen penn elastic
Photo via Elastic

Karen Penn, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Lead at Elastic

How did your company celebrate Pride this year?

To celebrate Pride in its 51st year, Elastic created a giving campaign to support more than 45 LGBTQ+ charities around the globe. All donations during the month of June were matched at 200 percent. As of late June, more than $92,000 has been raised.

We created several Pride backgrounds for use during Zoom calls, branded Pride logos for social media and featured three employee perspectives in a culture blog series called ‘Someone Like Me,’ amplified through all our internal and external social media platforms.

 

How did the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and other members of the Black community impact the way your company and employees approached Pride? 

Elastic has been mindful of the intersectionality of identity, and ensured that we highlighted this in our Pride culture blogs. We also made sure to include LGBTQ+ charities in our giving campaign that focused on underrepresented communities, like the National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.

 

“Recently, we added mental health offerings specifically for people of color and intersectional groups.”

 

What formal resources or programming does your company provide to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC employees?

Elastic provides learning opportunities through on-demand training and virtual affinity groups for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC. Recently, we added mental health offerings specifically for people of color and intersectional groups. We also provided an outlet for Elasticians to anonymously share their lived experiences with racism, so that all could gain insight and perspective into the breadth of colleagues’ life stories. 

We also had a company-wide moment of silence for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We initiated an anti-racism giving campaign that has raised $145,000 to date, and created #BlackLivesMatter Zoom backgrounds and branded social media campaigns — including a Juneteenth blog — and began giving employees the day off on Juneteenth.

 

The Need for Change Is NowHow HR and People Teams Can Promote Racial Equality in the Workplace.

 

nicole vogrin western union
Photo via Western Union

Nicole Vogrin, Chief Corporate Affairs & Communications Officer at Western Union

How did your company celebrate Pride this year?

We kicked off the month with an in-depth employee survey to gather stories from our LGBTQ+ employees, as well as insights into what we’re doing well and where we can improve as a company. We value listening as a crucial aspect in supporting the LGBTQ+ community. We also provided questions for allies to help deepen their understanding and provide more thoughtful support. 

This survey led to focused conversations between teams, a hosted chat with one of our new Board of Directors who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community, an inspirational video from employees and several social features forthcoming.

Our D&I committees around the globe have organized creative local activities, including virtual happy hours, parades, photo contests, TikTok challenges and even makeup tutorials — all designed to honor and spotlight our amazing LGBTQ+ members. 

We also have email signature icons and social profile images for employees, our HQ building illuminated in rainbow lights, employees sharing their personal stories on our internal channels, and so much more. We are inspired to see our teams lead these efforts, and we are confident they will expand in years to come. 

 

How did the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and other members of the Black community impact the way your company and employees approached Pride? 

We are outraged over the long-standing racial injustice against Black men and women in the United States and worldwide. Our hearts go out to all the families who have lost loved ones or been affected by racist violence in any way. The work of creating unity and justice must be shared by everyone. 

Our CEO and members of our leadership team are actively listening and engaging with an advisory group of Black Western Union employees. Systemic racism is multifaceted, complex and irrefutably unjust. Western Union is committed to taking action to fight for change. 

We believe it is important to focus on intersectionality in the midst of celebrating Pride. We must be committed to the fight for fair treatment, rights and equality across our communities.

 

“Recent events have pushed us, like many others, to take an honest look at how we can improve our efforts.”

 

What formal resources or programming does your company provide to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC employees? 

Western Union has a long history of supporting disadvantaged communities — including migrants and refugees — but recent events have pushed us, like many others, to take an honest look at how we can improve our efforts.

In addition to ongoing dialogues between our CEO, leadership teams and employee-led advisory groups, we also have D&I committees across the globe. They organize action plans to bring more visibility and support to minority communities and ensure equal opportunities are presented globally across the company. 

Some of these actions include Pride month celebrations, D&I company certification and employee education programs around diversity and inclusion awareness and implicit bias training.  

 

arnnon geshuri livongo
Photo via Livongo

Arnnon Geshuri, Chief People Officer at Livongo

How did your company celebrate Pride this year?

On June 22, Livongo kicked off a company-wide virtual Pride Spirit week and facilitated dedicated events throughout the month highlighting the LBGTQ+ community. During Pride Spirit week, all employees were encouraged to join a Pride-themed virtual social hour, employee-led forums and peer learning events and dynamic talks with industry experts and academic luminaries pushing dialogue about equality for all. We are also consistently sharing resources in our weekly newsletters and internal social media channels and encouraging employees to donate to LGBTQ+ organizations and support local businesses owned by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

 

How did the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor and other members of the Black community impact the way your company and employees approached Pride? 

We began this month’s Pride observation with a show of solidarity for the Black community. We hosted virtual meetings to allow employees to share their feelings about racism and unrest in our country and also suggest how Livongo can advance the conversation and take action against injustice. 

We already contribute to homeless communities, women’s shelters and food pantries in the markets where we have facilities. In June, we also donated to the National Black Nurses Association and the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation. We will continue contributing to organizations focused on healthcare within the Black community and addressing disparities that exist for minority communities. 

We recognize that battles are still being fought, protests are still necessary, and Pride was earned by people who stood up to injustice. We encourage positive dialogue and ensure all our employees are supported and can bring their whole self to the conversation. 

 

“We are actively strengthening and enforcing our policies of equal opportunity for all and creating safe spaces to have difficult conversations and learn from one another.”

 

What formal resources or programming does your company provide to LGBTQ+ and BIPOC employees? 

Livongo is committed to ensuring there is diverse representation at all levels of the organization. This starts by empowering employee resource groups and promoting dedicated internal social media channels to help educate and build resources and relationships that tie directly into our mission. We are actively strengthening and enforcing our policies of equal opportunity for all and creating safe spaces to have difficult conversations and learn from one another. With education in mind, we are creating training and learning opportunities that bring awareness to diversity and LGBTQ+ issues and further inclusivity in the workplace. We are implementing practices ensuring they have access to health literacy resources and working with communities and healthcare providers to reduce cultural barriers to care.

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