LGBT Pride Month: Celebrating Talent Without Bias

June is LGBT Pride Month in the United States – a time for people, businesses, cities, etc. across the country to recognize and celebrate the diversity, contributions and accomplishments of the LGBT community. And while we celebrate the progress that the community and its allies have fought so hard to make thus far, LGBT Pride Month is also a time to remind everyone about how far we still have to go. I’m thankful Ketchum is an organization that has taken steps to demonstrate that equality and inclusion is a valued priority that benefits its employees and the company as a whole.

On June 26, 2015, I was fortunate enough to be part of the Ketchum Delegation at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in France. During this unforgettable celebration of amazing creative work, another celebration was happening at home after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. While I would not have traded my Cannes experience for anything, I was initially saddened that I couldn’t be with my friends and loved ones celebrating this historical victory back home.

michael pride postHowever, that feeling was quickly eclipsed by the incredible response by my colleagues and employer. As I received a barrage of text messages, emails, tweets and Facebook messages, there were two that I was particularly pleased to receive.

The first was an email from my home office in Dallas with a picture of an impromptu party in our “Big Tex” conference room. The email, accompanied by the picture above, read: Ketchum Dallas toasts to the historic Supreme Court ruling today for marriage equality! #LoveWins

Such a simple, yet powerful, gesture that epitomized how diverse and inclusive my workplace really is.
michael pride pic 2
The second thing I saw was equally encouraging: the Ketchum Instagram and Twitter handles both posted a drawing that was created within hours of the announcement by my fellow Ketchum Delegate Yasmine Cordes, who took the iconic Cannes Lions logo and turned it into a symbol of the pride so many of us felt at that moment.

To be perfectly honest, I was somewhat taken aback. I’ve always found Ketchum to be accepting and inclusive. But these small proactive gestures demonstrated how genuinely supportive the company is of its LGBT employees. Many of us already assume that this support exists, thanks in part to our compassionate colleagues, but it’s extremely motivating to see the company explicitly express this support for the world to see.

Beyond my personal experience, Ketchum’s public inclusiveness enables talented people from all walks of life to contribute to amazing work. The diverse talent pool that Ketchum is increasingly cultivating, in turn, benefits our clients by providing them with the high-quality service, creative ideas and unique perspectives they’ve come to expect from a global agency.

Numerous strides have been made in recent years in the name of equality. However, we still have many more barriers to break down and hurdles to overcome. Working at an organization that openly supports and encourages me to be who I am gives me a sense of comfort that many other LGBT professionals aren’t fortunate enough to enjoy in their workplace. That comfort allows me to spend less time worrying about people’s negative perceptions, and more time focusing on doing Break Through work in my career, in my personal life and, hopefully, in the larger fight for equality (click to tweet).

Note: This blog post was written prior to the tragic events of June 12 in Orlando, which are a reminder of the fear and hatred that the LGBT community still faces. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for us to promote equality, tolerance, inclusion and love wherever we can – from our homes to our workplaces and everywhere in between.