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?
This past Spring, we founded Out Front here at Edelman and the community we have built in that short time has been incredible. Out Front is made up of nearly 60 individuals who work across disciplines at Edelman—each bringing a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to the collective conversation. Our mission is to provide best-in-class counsel to our clients surrounding LGBTQIA+ issues not just for Pride, but 365 days a year. In tandem, we have developed an open environment for everyone to engage and support one another. These connections are always important, especially this year with the continued rise of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation and targeted violence against our community.
What do you think it means to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Allyship is one of the great misunderstandings of our time. Being an ally means showing up for people 365 days a year, not just within the confines of celebratory months or in times of tragedy. We are all connected and true allyship requires us to embrace our intersectionality and make space for each other’s experiences.
Intersectionality is defined as the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to an individual or group—creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. To be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community means you must also be an ally to Black, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, Women/Birthing People, Disabled, Veterans and any other marginalized community that is the target of hate and oppression.
What can leaders and managers be doing to help make tangible action to support the LGBTQIA+ community?
Representation matters. Business leaders can ensure that a diverse range of LGBTQIA+ people are represented at the leadership level to ensure all voices and experiences are heard. In addition, creating equitable employee benefits that positively impact the lives of LGBTQIA+ employees and their families is key. Lastly, leaders can use language—internally and externally—that is inclusive and creates an inviting environment for all employees.
How do you ensure LGBTQIA+ issues remain top of mind within a company throughout the rest of the year?
The intent of Out Front is to help clients engage with the LGBTQIA+ community 365 days a year and not just around Pride. There is always a tidal wave of rainbow activity and interest in June each year, but most of that energy disappears by July. Given the continued legislative attacks on the community at large, but also school age children, their teachers, and their curriculums, we are actively pursuing opportunities for brands to show up around back to school as well as LGBTQIA+ history month in October. In addition, we’re always looking for meaningful ways we can join forces and support all marginalized communities throughout the year.
What recommendations do you have for people to become more involved in LGBTQIA+ issues?
Getting involved with the issues starts at a human level. A great place to start is diversifying your social circles—get to know and spend time with LGBTQIA+ people. Once you have a better understanding of the issues we face, vote for candidates who are not actively trying to take away our rights. If you are a business leader, you can ensure that your business is not actively supporting political candidates or groups who are pursuing anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.
What does love mean/look like to you?
Love means action. It is easy to use words or post about things online—but real love, true support—means taking tangible actions outside of a single month to support people. Love, advocacy and true allyship is a value system—it must be an integral part of who we are.
Emily Portugal is Senior Vice President, U.S. Business Development, in Edelman Chicago.
Greg Casto is Executive Vice President, Brand in Edelman, San Francisco.