As we celebrate Pride Month 2022, our teams around the globe are recognizing Pride Month through local initiatives and activities championing LGBTQIA+ equality. For this special edition of Inside Edelman, we profiled colleagues from around the network who are focused on allyship, recognizing intersectionality and taking action towards a more inclusive and equitable world for the LGBTQIA+ community.
How are you working to champion LGBTQIA+ equality in your market/region?
About three years ago, we created a group of employees dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion, focused on different topics, and LGBTQIA+ equality is included within this. This group of volunteers brings reflections, insights and information during our monthly townhalls and, by doing so, we keep the discussion alive. We also have a recruitment practice that prioritizes diversity. And, most importantly, we guarantee a safe and healthy environment for everybody. From the first interview to all contacts with the leadership, all employees understand that intolerance and lack of respect are not acceptable here.
What do you think it means to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
I bring a different perspective to the workplace, mainly because of my personal trajectory. I am a 52-year-old lesbian woman in a team whose average age is less than 30 years. In this context, being a gay leader can be inspiring and I proudly play this role. In our last townhall, for example, after discussing data that shows the vulnerability of the LGBTQIA+ community in Brazil, I commented that, although the current scenario is still horrible, we cannot forget to celebrate the recent evolution. Fifteen/20 years ago, this dialogue would not even have existed. Let's keep fighting, but also celebrate how far we’ve come. June is about that: fight and celebration. And pride, of course.
What can leaders and managers be doing to help make tangible action to support the LGBTQIA+ community?
A leader needs to act by setting examples, showing that disrespect is not acceptable. You don’t need to know everything, but it's also important to show interest, such as understanding what behaviors and languages are expected by the LGBTQIA+ community. What are the correct terms and sentences? A simple example: if someone comments that they are in a same-sex relationship, you do not need to say, “how cool is that!” (I know, it is, but you wouldn't respond that way if someone comments about a straight relationship).
How do you ensure LGBTQIA+ issues remain top of mind within a company throughout the rest of the year?
I believe that the practice of always discussing inclusion issues during our townhalls is a simple and effective way to remind teams that this is an important topic for us all year round.
What recommendations do you have for people to become more involved in LGBTQIA+ issues?
One of my favorite sentences is “you don't have to be black to fight against racism, you don't have to be a woman to defend feminism and you don't have to be gay to take a stand against homophobia.” You just need to be human. In Brazil, one of the countries with some of the highest rates of violence against homosexuals in the world, fighting intolerance should be the role of every Brazilian. So, on a day-to-day basis, showing clearly that prejudice is unacceptable is already a step toward supporting the community.
What does love mean/look like to you?
From a personal perspective, it is my source of daily inspiration, what feeds and motivates me. A relationship built on partnership and mutual admiration. In society, it will always be our only possible path, which takes us out of lethargy and indifference, and what will allow us to build a fairer world.
Ana Juliao is General Manager at Edelman Brazil.