June marks the 50th anniversary of Pride Month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ members within our communities and to commit to creating a more diverse, inclusive and tolerant society.
At CO-OP, we believe this effort goes beyond simply eliminating workplace discrimination against age, disabilities, gender, race and ethnicity, and, of course, sexual orientation and identity. Which is why we launched our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Council, to commit towards fostering a workplace where every employee feels valued, respected, and connected. All year-round, our DE&I Council has helped create a dialogue and share information geared towards promoting equality in the workplace, including a webinar on gender and sexual identity earlier this month.
“Creating an inclusive environment helps to make sure that we get the best of people at work every day,” said Cheryl Middleton Jones, Chief People Officer. “Personally, I know that I function best in an environment that is inclusive and accepting of others, as well as accepting the ideas and thoughts of everyone. Diversity breeds inclusiveness, and better ideas.”
And data suggests that inclusiveness leads to better outcomes. According to Forbes, inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time and twice as fast.
In celebration of Pride Month, we asked members of our DE&I Council to share why supporting a work environment that is accepting of all gender identities, sexual orientations, and gender expressions is so important to them:
Jason Harpenau, Client Business Executive:
“I have found environments that accept people for who they are foster a culture of collaboration, ownership and growth. Today we have access to information like never before however; I believe personal growth is often initiated or influenced by relationships and without a diverse culture the scope of these opportunities can be limited.
I believe sincerity and showing empathy is a good place to start. It is ok to be vulnerable and admit you do not know everything, asking sincere questions and/or listening goes a long ways in promoting an inclusive and supportive work environment. “
Jacki Best, Director, Product Enablement:
“I want to be in a workplace that my LGBTQ friends and family would be accepted in and that my LGBTQ coworkers and friends can be free to be their true selves in.
I am learning to be careful of the pronouns I use, if I’m unsure of the gender my coworkers identify as. When applicable, I also try to freely chat about my family and friends that are LGBTQ, so that others who may feel uncomfortable coming out at work will know that I am an ally who accepts them as they truly are. I’m continuing to learn about the LGBTQ community, so that I can become a better ally, and help advocate for my family, friends, and coworkers.”
Vatyna Kennebrew, Credit Analyst:
“As someone with family members and friends that are members of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s important to me to that I work for a company that welcomes and respects all people, and that I would proudly encourage them to be a part of.”
Rachel Hale, Fraud Analyst I:
“Being in an environment where people can be their true selves provides a comfortable and safe space. That opens the door for different ideas and opportunities for growth within work and for all individuals. Everyone should have the right as human beings to feel included in whatever they’re a part of. I embrace diversity and love to learn from others and see different perspectives that may be unheard in an environment that is not accepting to everyone.”
To all of our credit union partners and members we say – Happy Pride Month! CO-OP is proud to continuing serving you and committing to building a more inclusive and accepting world!