Asked how she learned about BPROUD in the London office, Erika Hempel of Tradebook Marketing says, “I started it!” That’s an emphatic, but not unusual, response among members of the BPROUD (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender “LGBT” and Ally) Community in Bloomberg offices around the world. Many members have decided that stepping up, being visible, and walking the walk is the best way to create a supportive network of colleagues. This year, BPROUD has focused on engaging globally and acting locally in celebrating the Community’s successes and shedding light on the LGBT space.
Zeb Eckert, Hong Kong-based television reporter for Bloomberg TV, agrees. As one of the Asia Pacific contacts for BPROUD, Eckert says, “I am immensely proud of the work we are doing around the world to create a more inclusive corporate culture.”
Now it’s time for others to step up.
The BPROUD Community is encouraging allies to sign an electronic Ally Pledge to become a champion for equality and inclusion.
Both Eckert and Hempel underscore the importance of visible allies to lending credibility to LGBT rights and interests among colleagues both inside and outside of Bloomberg. “It is incumbent on us to reach beyond the borders of LGBT to embrace the larger concept of diversity and inclusion,” says Hempel. Eckert adds: “Each of us has a responsibility to identify colleagues who we know support the LGBT community. Their support adds credibility to our cause.”
In Singapore’s Enterprise group, Seonghee Yang asserts that “straight allies mean more than just support to us; they are a force for equality, fairness, acceptance, and mutual respect in the workplace.”
New York-based Shaun Randol, editor for ONBB, has been an ally since college, where he started an LGBT student group on his conservative school’s small campus. “When it came time to present the charter to a faculty board, I was the only student in attendance,” Randol recalls. “And then one by one, almost the entire faculty showed up and stood behind me in a show of solidarity.” The group’s charter was granted and the room erupted in applause.
“That day is one of the proudest in my life and I’ve been a visible ally since,” he says. He proudly displays his membership on his FON profile and encourages other allies to do the same. “Step up. Become a visible supporter. It’s not just about encouraging diversity; it’s about encouraging self-expression.”
Chief Risk and Compliance Officer Paul Wood, who is an executive sponsor of the BPROUD Community, says, “When people can be themselves they really do perform better. For some LGBT employees, being their complete self in the workplace may still be difficult. Our straight colleagues have a really important role to play in helping create this open and inclusive environment. If they stand up and promote inclusion, if they advocate equal treatment for all, if they challenge discriminatory comments and behaviors, it is really powerful.” He concludes: “I hope many of our colleagues will join our ally network and support our drive to be even more inclusive.”
Don Carey of Core Equities, who also serves as executive sponsor of the BPROUD Community, adds, “To me, being an ally is about basic fairness. As a manager with teammates in countries around the world, I realize there are varying degrees of cultural acceptance of LGBT issues. I want my teammates to know I can be counted on for support. And I hope the level of support Bloomberg can provide is understood by everyone.”
While the goal for inclusion is well underway, there’s more to be accomplished. Eckert says, “As an openly gay employee and television personality, I’ll continue to use my influence to drive positive change. When my work here is done, I want every employee of this company to feel valued, engaged, and motivated to achieve career success and personal well-being.”
The BPROUD Community is one of many BOPEN Communities under the office of Diversity and Inclusion. George Sycip and Robert Laird, co-heads of BPROUD in the U.S. shared, “while BPROUD has a specific focus on creating an equal and inclusive work culture for LGBT and allies, all of the Communities allow for employees to be authentic in the workplace, and serve to support retention, recruitment, and professional development”.
Contributed by On Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP’s internal newswire.