ERGs help companies create LGBTQ-affirming work culture

Subaru of America’s “Out+Ally” employee resource group. (Photo via Facebook).

For LGBTQ employees and allies at Subaru, they can take part in the automaker’s employee resource group (ERG) Out+Ally to receive “education, resources and events to help our colleagues feel safe, supported, and empowered with information to inspire acceptance, particularly during Pride Month and LGBTQ+ History Month,” said Joseph Pawlicki, Subaru’s Digital Service Technology Manager. 

Subaru is one of many companies in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas that provide resources and opportunities for LGBTQ employees in its industry. Through ERGs, companies are providing training sessions, workshops, volunteer opportunities, and other benefits for the community.

These initiatives do not go unnoticed. Pawlicki noted Subaru achieved a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI), the national benchmarking tool for LGBTQ workplace equality. The CEI rates companies on their nondiscrimination policies, equitable benefits for LGBTQ workers and their families, inclusive culture, and corporate social responsibility. For five consecutive years, the automaker scored top marks in all criteria and it was classified as Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality.

“We hope to help redefine what an automotive company work culture looks and feels like by [allowing] employees to be their authentic selves in the office each and every day,” Pawlicki said.

The CEI also designated TD Bank as Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality. Girish Ganesan, the national bank’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Head of US Talent, noted the company’s LGBTQ-inclusive equal-opportunity policy, gender-affirmation benefits, all-gender restrooms in buildings, trainings, family planning benefits, and the option to include pronouns on name tags and business cards. These initiatives led TD to receiving HRC’s top score for 12 consecutive years.

“We want TD to be a place where colleagues feel they can bring their whole selves to work,” Ganesan said. “Our culture of care is all about creating an environment that is fair, respectful and supportive of all employees. A cornerstone of our inclusive culture is employee engagement and internal education and training through our dedicated LGBTQ2+ business resource group, which is led by a senior executive sponsor.”

In addition to supporting employees, TD Bank supports the financial needs of LGBTQ customers through its LGBTQ2+ Business Development team. The group works closely with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to support the journey of LGBTQ entrepreneurs. This includes volunteering with the Certification Committee as site visitors and providing technical assistance programming for business owners. They also support many NGLCC affiliate chambers through sponsorship, volunteerism, board roles and providing technical assistance for members. 

“The LGBTQ2+ community is diverse and experiences of all community members are not the same, especially for our underrepresented LGBTQ2+ community members, including for transgender and gender non-binary, bisexual, queer, racialized, two-spirit, women, and community members living outside of large urban markets,” Ganesan said. “TD is committed to supporting the LGBTQ2+ community inside and outside the bank, to help build an inclusive future for all.”

The individuals at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) also provide support for the people they work with. Its Gender and Sexuality Development Program offers psychosocial and medical support for gender-variant, gender-expansive, and transgender children and youth up to age 21 and their families.

CHOP offers two ERGs, LGBTQ+ Pride and Providers of Pride, to “unite employees, patients and families who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning to foster a positive work environment,” according to a joint statement to PGN from Dr. Jan Boswinkel, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at CHOP King of Prussia and Gayle Stidsen-Smith, Associate Vice President and Associate Chief Information Officer. Dr. Boswinkel and Ms. Stidsen-Smith are the executive sponsors of the two groups.

 “As leaders at CHOP, we believe it is our responsibility and honor to support both groups as they reach their goals and help amplify their message of unity,” they said.

CHOP also extends these messages to employees.The hospital recently updated its human resources system to include pronouns, updated its paid parental leave program, and continually updates signage throughout the hospital to ensure it is inclusive and safe for all.

However, Boswinkel and Stidsen-Smith know the fight for equality is not over.

“The LGBTQ+ community continues to face discrimination, both domestically and globally,” they said. “We hope that increasing LGBTQ+ visibility, understanding and respect, as well as fostering safe spaces, promoting allyship, and supporting LGBTQ+ related education models the behavior we hope to see in the world.”

Pawlicki echoed that statement for Subaru and its LGBT-inclusive ERGs.

“We are committed to evolving and improving our inclusive practices and culture by finding ways to provide safe and comfortable avenues through which people can share stories, as well as through training and education,” Pawlicki said. “We strive to become a group that not only can continue to support and mentor employees, but also help to evolve our organizational culture to be as safe and inclusive as possible for all people.”

TD Bank is also continuing to take steps. Recently, they held an LGBTQ2+ Virtual Speed Mentoring initiative and virtual versions of LGBTQ leadership programs. According to Ganesan, more than 30 colleagues from businesses and markets across TD are participating in the latter cohort, which began in April and will conclude in August.

“While we have made progress, as a society and at TD, the journey for inclusion for the LGBTQ2+ community continues, and we still have work to do,” Ganesan said. “And we are striving to continually enhance the employee experience, focus on diverse talent development and broader people manager engagement.”

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