by Nori Gale
Tuesday, June 1 marked the first day of Pride Month, which is commemorated annually to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people and to honor the Stonewall Uprising.
The Origins of Pride Month
The Stonewall Inn, originally an underground gay bar in Greenwich Village, New York City, was raided by police in June of 1969. Patrons of the bar that evening fought back, sparking an uprising and leading to three nights of civil unrest. A year after the Stonewall uprising, the first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970. The day soon turned into a series of events that take place internationally over the month of June every year.
How Employee Resource Groups Help Foster Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
One way we help foster diversity and inclusion at WEX is through our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). The mission of our WEX Pride ERG is “To represent all members of the LGBTQIA+ community at WEX, Inc. by providing an open and safe network of peers while supporting all leaders and employees in fostering an environment that represents the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.” As Annie Drew, Chief Risk & Compliance Officer at WEX and executive sponsor of WEX Pride describes it, “At WEX we are committed to a diverse workforce and one way we can help our LGBTQIA+ employees feel championed and heard is through our ongoing support of the WEX Pride ERG. WEX Pride fosters inclusion and encourages all WEXers to participate in our events and forums. It’s about promoting a sense of belonging for all at WEX.”
How COVID Impacted Event Planning for WEX Pride
In a typical year, WEXers participate in Pride parades and events throughout the month of June across the U.S. and globally. Due to COVID, our options were limited this year in terms of planning events for Pride Month. Lauren Pierce, Director of Programming for WEXPride says “While COVID did make it difficult to host the kinds of events we normally enjoy, we did have some really fabulous virtual events this past year and we are hoping to begin in the coming weeks to ramp things up going forward and get back to where we were pre-COVID.” Events held in the past year included a special guest speaker on mental health during COVID and a presentation and panel discussion on allyship. The ERG values open discussion during their events and encourage audience engagement and participation.
Upcoming WEX Pride Events: a Digital Party, and a Pronouns Discovery Session
Members of our WEXPride ERG are excited to now start planning for next year and have a lot of ideas percolating, including a virtual event they are hosting on June 17th the focus of which is still under wraps. Corissa Haury, Communications Chair for WEX Pride did share that the event promises to be ground-breaking for WEX and will provide a lot of team-building and opportunity for discussion and sharing. “We are really excited for this year’s Pride Month event. We’re carrying on our new annual tradition of reaching out to all WEXers across the globe with one big digital party, to celebrate LGBTQIA+ identity and to acknowledge some of the everyday struggles that we go through as LGBTQIA+ people and the folks who love them. This year we are focusing on supporting LGBTQIA+ health with personal action, and celebrating trans identity throughout history up until today.”
René Byrd the WEX Pride Board Chair for Membership is excited about Wex’s June celebration of Pride month. “This time of year is extremely important for diversity and inclusion and gives WEXers the opportunity of celebrating LGBTQIA+ employees and leaders where we are all equal and belong. For over a year the WEX Pride ERG has pushed for something we all feel strongly about which is advocating for inclusive language in the workplace and educating WEX on the use of pronouns. We hope to host an event sometime in the fall of 2021 and the communications team has put together a useful resource on the WEX Pride ERG website.” The event will be an online community discussion and open to all WEXers.
Here at WEX, we also show our support through financial contributions to LGBTQIA+ organizations including EqualityMaine and MindOUT to name a few, and we continue to find new and innovative ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion at our company.
WEX condemns and will not tolerate discrimination, intimidation, or violence directed at any individual or group.
To learn more about WEX values, please take a look at our recently published ESG report.