Happy Pride Month!
Each year during the month of June, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community and their allies celebrate Pride! This is the celebration and promotion of LGBTQ people’s self-affirmation, dignity, and equal rights, and increases visibility, builds community, and celebrates sexual diversity and gender variance. You can learn more about the history of Pride, as well as festivals that are held all over the country, by visiting the HRC Pride website."In these politically uncertain times, I truly believe that corporations will be the driver of continued LGBTQ equality."
As I reflect on what Pride means to me, I can’t help but think about how far we have come as a society in a very short time. If you would have asked me 10 years ago if I, as a gay man, would be able to get married, I would have laughed. Yet, on Oct. 1, 2016, I got married, while surrounded and supported by my family and friends. Many times, people have asked me why marriage is important, and my answer is always the same: there is something very powerful about standing up, in front of the people that mean the most to you, and committing to share your life with the person you love in a union recognized by the government. On that memorable day my husband James and I became our own family!
In these politically uncertain times, I truly believe that corporations will be the driver of continued LGBTQ equality. Again, it is important to look at how far we have come on LGBTQ equality in the workplace. When I graduated from college in 1999 and started my career, the thought of “coming out” at work never even crossed my mind, let alone being celebrated for the differences I bring to my team, my firm, and my community. It truly means the world to me; as a leader in my practice, I can openly share stories about my husband with not only my team, but also my clients. I also bring him to firm events, and he knows the people I spend more than half my time with, which is important to him and to my team!
In the 2017 Out & Equal report, 92% of Fortune 500 companies welcome LGBTQ employees with inclusive policies that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is up from only 4% in 1996. This is a tremendous statistic! That is not to say that there isn’t still work to do, but we are getting there, and I believe that corporations will continue to lead the charge in this effort.
Did you know that today, in 28 states people can get fired for being gay, and in 30 states you can be fired for being transgender? There are also no federal protections barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Those numbers are scary!
Luckily, companies like Navigant, my employer, and many others have signed on in support of the Business Coalition for the Equality Act, which establishes explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education, and jury service. There is so much data supporting LGBTQ equality in the work place. I believe this is why it will be corporations that lead the charge toward full LGBTQ equality.
As I reflect on Pride this year, I am thankful for all those who came before me and fought for the rights that I am able to enjoy today. I really look forward to what the future holds, and I am also committed to doing everything I can to advocate for the rights of my community.
This article originally appeared in LinkedIn.