Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ+) Pride Month is celebrated globally each June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City – an event widely viewed as a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement.1 Today, Pride Month events around the world bring millions of people together not only to honor this history, but also to celebrate love, acceptance and progress.
We are committed to ensuring our employees feel seen, that they know they are not alone and – most importantly – they know they belong at Jazz. This month, we have been uplifting the voices of our LGBTQ+ colleagues, educating allies on queer history and commemorating the spirit of resistance – and resilience – with which Pride began. Members of our All Dimensions of Diversity Employee Resource Team (ERT) curated a number of LGBTQ+ educational resources, virtual learning opportunities and historical information about Pride to support Jazz employees’ personal diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) journeys. Our teams responded enthusiastically, taking the opportunity to listen to and support one another in authentic and open conversations about the challenges and the power of inclusion, intersectionality, self-identity and allyship.
In addition to the employee-led education and conversation happening across Jazz, the All Dimensions of Diversity ERT hosted a virtual, global employee Pride Month event on the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The event opened with historical context about the movement that followed the violent police raid on drag queens, trans people and gay people at the Stonewall Inn just 52 years ago.
Ernie Ross, senior vice president of market access, then led a panel discussion featuring global Jazz employees from the LGBTQ+ community and allies. Ernie opened the Q&A session with a brave and emotional recounting of his own self-identification and coming out experience, empowering panelists to share their stories of overcoming (both internal and external) discrimination, prejudice and rejection.
“My daughter battles gender dysphoria – the gender she identifies with internally is in conflict with her physical body,” panelist Jayne Hussey, Engineering Compliance Lead, explained. “Having a trans child can be a bit of a minefield – people who don’t see my daughter regularly sometimes forget that she has transitioned – and the mental health component with being trans is also prominent. But the fact that my kids have come out quite young, it makes me proud of their strength and inner resilience.”
Other panelists – including Kimberly Robinson, Associate Director, Government Regional Accounts; Jessica Wolfe, Senior Director, Government Affairs; Beau Burton, Senior Manager, Organizational Learning and Development; and Jim Leamon, Director, Manufacturing Sciences – also recounted their diverse and shared experiences while educating colleagues on cultivating inclusion, understanding and community at Jazz.
“Each day, we choose whether or not to come out – it’s often a choice whether to tell a stranger who you are,” Jessica Wolfe, explained. “It’s my job, my wife’s job, our job to be out and open about who we are to set an example for our son, to show him it’s OK.”
The authentic and powerful discussion fostered even more conversation, connection, learning and support among the hundreds of Jazz employees engaging in the live chat throughout the event.
“I’ve been with Jazz for 4 years and I am still consistently moved and surprised by the willingness of Jazz employees to get vulnerable and be their best, authentic selves at work,” Rebecca Wiens, Manager, Project Management, wrote in the live chat. “Thank you. You all make this an amazing place to work.”
We want underrepresented groups at Jazz to be surrounded by allies and to shape our people practices in ways that enable all employees to thrive equitably. These open conversations and opportunities for employees to connect and celebrate their various dimensions of diversity are essential components of our DEIB strategy and ultimately, a key step to unlocking the potential of our values, purpose, people, and our business.
1About: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month: Library of Congress. The Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/. Accessed June 24, 2021.
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