Main illustration: Olenka Malarecka
It is 50 years this month since the Stonewall riots in New York City, which were a response to discriminatory police raids against the LGBTI+ community. The Christopher Street Liberation Day March which marked the anniversary of the riots is considered to be the first ever Pride.
This major anniversary has been inspiration for us at Intercom to pause and re-evaluate our approach to Pride.
Pride has become a colourful celebration of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex + (LGBTI+) community, a day where friends and families, community organizations and volunteers come together to march and celebrate. It is also an opportunity to remember those who went before us and fought for acceptance and inclusion. We’ve seen significant progression for equality, acceptance and celebration of the LGBTI+ community, as reflected in companies celebrating their employees by attending Pride parades around the world.
“This year at Intercom we’re trying something different”
This visible celebration is powerful – Leanne wrote about how important it was for her to see Intercom march in Pride just before she started working here. For Leanne, knowing instantly that she would be accepted, and how supportive the entire company was of this community, was incredibly important. In parallel to this, we must also acknowledge the ongoing struggle for true safety within our communities, both at home and around the world. Pride started as a protest to fight for the rights of our communities, we must never forget that.
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Allyship, inclusion policies, celebration and acceptance of LGBTI+ employees are hugely important for companies. So this year at Intercom we’re trying something different to reflect that.
Trying something different
At Intercom we have company-supported community groups, and one of those is InterProud, our employee group for our LGBTI+ employees and allies. All of our community groups are driven by members of their respective communities, and we’re given executive sponsorship, budgets and freedom to be intentional about how we celebrate and create our cultures within Intercom.
We want our LGBTI+ employees to feel fully accepted and empowered to do their best work, as equally valued and supported as any team member. So we’ve traditionally celebrated Pride in a manner that was fitting for each of our local offices, to ensure our LGBTI+ team members feel valued and accepted. In Dublin that meant marching as a company in the Pride Parade, and in San Francisco, we’ve held annual Pride picnics.
As we headed into 2019 planning in Dublin we wanted to reflect on what is happening in our wider community – in Ireland and around the world. While huge strides have been made, such as embracing marriage equality in Ireland in 2015, we still lack equal parental rights.
While Ireland is one of only six jurisdictions in the world where people may legally change gender through self-determination, we still see transphobic attacks here and around the world. Given it’s 50 years since the riots that started Pride, which is a timely reminder that “Pride is a protest”, we found ourselves asking some big questions.
“We felt that giving back to the community would make a meaningful difference to our local LGBTI+ community”
The two of us started thinking about what we could do as Global Leads for InterProud to make Pride month wonderful and exciting for our teammates. We knew we wanted to do more than just go to the Pride parade, but weren’t immediately sure what. After reflecting on the theme and our shared desire to see things improve outside of our workplace, we started to wonder could we donate a portion of our budget to a charity. We felt that giving back to the community was not only something the entire company would get behind and feel great about, but would also make a meaningful difference to our local LGBTI+ community.
Our executive sponsors and our People Ops leaders very quickly endorsed and encouraged the idea.
Supporting work we’re passionate about
As a result we’re so excited to share that this year we are donating €10,000 to BeLonG To Youth Services and entering into a partnership with this incredible organization.
BeLonG To support LGBTI+ youth in Ireland, and their families, working to create an Ireland where LGBTI+ young people are equal, safe, and valued in the diversity of their identifies and experiences. They fund a lot of their work through donations alone. This enables them to offer a host of services including a youth groups, one to one support, teacher resources packs with educational support on eliminating bullying from their classrooms and schools, crisis counselling for those at risk of self-harm and suicide, and work to keep 42 local LGBTI+ youth services open across Ireland. Their work is vital, and something many of us in InterProud feel deeply passionate about.
“Our plan for Pride 2019 in Dublin allows us to have the best of all worlds – support at work, giving back to our local community and celebrating at Pride”
We could not think of a better organisation to partner with for our Intercom Pride month celebration. As part of this partnership, they will be running “LGBTI+ 101” training sessions for our Dublin and London offices. In San Francisco we’re having an outdoor picnic, in Chicago we’re having a rooftop BBQ, and in London we’re doing LGBTI+ screenings. After Pride celebrations, we have plans to continue our collaboration where we’re going to give back to BeLonG To too, by volunteering our skills around content, sales and marketing.
On the morning of Pride itself in Dublin we’re also hosting a breakfast for our LGBTI+ employees, allies, friends and family to set them up for the day before the march begins. While we won’t march in Pride as Intercom, we will cheer on the parade as it makes its way to Merrion Square, and many of our staff may join their own community groups (e.g. Bi+ Ireland, Macra, Amach, Dublin Lesbian Line). Our plan for Pride 2019 in Dublin allows us to have the best of all worlds – support at work, giving back to our local community and celebrating at Pride.
Adapting to a world of change
Our whole world is changing so rapidly. Today, more than ever, we see the world progressing and regressing. We’re so proud of our company, of InterProud celebrating LGBTI+ communities, and most especially we’re honoured for the opportunity to give back. BelonG To are an incredible organisation, supporting LGBTI+ young people as equals to achieve their vision through youth work, changing attitudes, and research. We want to be a part of celebrating and empowering just that.
We’d encourage everyone to think about how they can make a difference to their own local communities, whether you can donate time or money, or share some other resource or skill, we can all work together to make the world a better place.
NB: In this article we use the acronyms ‘LGBTI+’, taking our lead from BeLonG To who include the ‘i’ for intersex people, to highlight the ongoing struggle for recognition, research and support for this marginalized group within the wider LGBTI+ community.