Celebrating Pride at work means that we have an opportunity to educate our colleagues, engage our professional community and reflect on our inclusivity as an organization.
Across our company, you can find a wonderful set of people who host uncomfortable conversations, share experiences and question the status quo – all to make sure our diverse community feels heard, supported and celebrated.
In 2020, our Pride Network took on the work to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. We expanded the company’s medical benefits to align with World Professional Association for Transgender Health standards of care. We also broadened our supplier diversity program to include LGBTQ-owned businesses and updated our gifts and contribution policy to explicitly prohibit donations to organizations that discriminate based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and more.
But we understand there is still more to be done in providing a safe and equitable workplace environment for the entire LGBTQ+ community. According to a study by Accenture, only 40% of LGBTQ+ employees are fully open about their gender identity/expression or sexual orientation at work. To celebrate Pride Month this year, we’re hosting discussions on coming out at work, being an ally, and parenting LGBTQ+ children – all topped off with a few rounds of virtual drag bingo! We’re also developing support resources for those transitioning at work, including guidance for colleagues and managers to play a positive role on their journey.
Celebrating Pride at work means a little something different to everyone. So, I asked a few of my colleagues to share their perspectives. Here’s what William Semel, a senior environmental engineer in California; Janis Lutrick, an operations leader for our environmental practice in Colorado; and Logan Reynolds, an EHS&S consultant in Chicago, had to say.
What does Pride at work mean to you?
William Semel: Pride is a mixed bag of emotion for me. It’s an amazing celebration – a time for the queer community to come together and be our authentic selves without apology. A time for us to be seen, supported and celebrated for all the accomplishments we’ve made. On the flip side, it’s also a somber reminder of those we’ve lost and how much work needs to be done for every person represented under the queer umbrella to be considered equal and to be respected. Our community is complex and diverse, and we’re still being discriminated against with policy decisions.
Janis Lutrick: Pride at work is about creating and belonging to a community where there is safety and support for anyone that needs it. It’s about providing context and education for our allies to understand why their support is important. And it’s also about celebrating how much progress the LGTBQ+ community has made while having some fun in the process.
Logan Reynolds: For me personally, Pride means to live your authentic self in everything you do, while allowing others to celebrate and be inspired by your courageously unique contribution to society.
Though the amazing thing about Pride is that it can represent so many different things to different people, because at its core, it is a celebration of life and love; and in life, everyone goes through their own personal journey of self-discovery and acceptance.
And once you can start to embrace what truly makes you happy, that is when your perceived past limitations become advantages, and you can start making positive impacts not only on your own life, but on others around you as well.
How has the pandemic affected progress for LGBTQ+ employees/community?
Logan Reynolds: Human connection plays a pivotal role in a person’s understanding of the world around them, and their empathy for others. Losing that human connection during the pandemic was one of more challenging impacts to the LGBTQ+ community. Especially for those who are still searching for a community that will embrace and celebrate them for who they are, their chosen family if you will, rather than the family they were born with. A community of “family” is based on the idea of shared experiences with people who you may have never even met before, and it is also wonderful reminder that you are not alone.
What do you see as the next step in progress for LGBTQ+ employees/community?
Janis Lutrick: We need to continue conversations around intersections within the company. When I came out (a million years ago), there were only two letters, two identities, if you will – L & G. We need to push further into creating a safe space for everyone on the queer spectrum and giving everyone a voice.
Logan Reynolds: In any movement, progress starts with representation, so promoting members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community into leadership positions within local and federal government will continue to progress polices that impact our community. But progress also starts with the individual, when you can recognize the privilege you may have in life and use that privilege to lift others up who are struggling to find their voice.
William Semel: Trans, non-binary and gender fluid individuals are struggling right now, especially people of color. I think it’s confusing and threatening to people that can’t relate and don’t understand. We must educate folks and create laws and protections at the federal level. From the trans military ban to the lack of queer protections at work to people dying because of their LGBTQ+ status, there are people actively trying to create legislation against our community and sowing seeds of hate. For gay, lesbian and bisexual people that have won battles for legislation in the past, we need to focus our efforts to help others in our community that are still fighting. We also need our allies to speak up, to get involved and to educate themselves and others. The LGBTQ+ community is multi-faceted and ever changing and we can’t lose sight of the work we need to do when we celebrate Pride Month.
Learn more about Arcadis’ commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.