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?
First of all, I’m staying humble and recognizing that although I can speak from my experience as a gay cisgendered male growing up in a rural community, that doesn’t give me the final say on the lived experience of our LGBTQIA+ colleagues, clients and communities that we serve. I’m investing my time and passion in learning from those around me, reading from new authors, questioning myself about my assumptions and privilege and staying constantly curious. I try to bring this energy of curiosity and openness into our work championing equality too, whether that’s helping a client work on campaigns that push their own boundaries in terms of engagement and advocacy, or through bold and purposeful conversations within our office that do the same for our people.
What do you think it means to be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
I think it’s an openness and an awareness. Sometimes I think people worry they need to be an expert and get everything right—but asking questions and asking what people need can be a powerful form of allyship in its own right.
What can leaders and managers be doing to help make tangible action to support the LGBTQIA+ community?
If I had to pick one thing, it is to speak up and speak out whenever people try to take power away from the community, whether that’s through abuse, bullying, legislation, policies or unequal treatment.
How do you ensure LGBTQIA+ issues remain top of mind within a company throughout the rest of the year?
It’s about the power of talking, of sharing testimony throughout the year, making sure you raise voices from across the community. We need to keep LGBTQIA+ stories alive, which is more critical than ever as we see legislative and cultural attempts to erase our story and identity.
What recommendations do you have for people to become more involved in LGBTQIA+ issues?
LGBTQIA+ activism has suffered so many setbacks, in all honesty I think the most important thing people can do to get started is to donate their time or money. I am a passionate supporter of organizations that help LGBTQIA+ people flee danger, whether that’s through immigration assistance, crisis mental health care or HIV prevention services. These issues are always in desperate need of more support and resources.
What does love mean/look like to you?
Treating people with respect, dignity and empowering them to live a free and happy life is what love looks like to me. I am immensely lucky and proud to be able to live in the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage, and even more lucky and proud to have married my husband Wilco surrounded by family and friends who accept and support us. LGBTQIA+ equality won’t be reached until everyone in every country of the world can do this, so let’s keep fighting.
Steven Heywood is General Manager of Edelman Amsterdam.