June marks as an important month for the global LGBT+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other groups, such as asexual, intersex, questioning, etc.) community, colloquially known as “Pride Month”. While events take place across the summer, June was chosen to remember the Stonewall Riots that broke out in Greenwich Village, New York City, in summer 1969 after police raided (through motives of discrimination) one of the city's most popular gay clubs, prompting the regulars to fight back in protest.
The following year, marches were coordinated in New York to mark the anniversary of the protest; this gave birth to an annual tradition. More and more cities across the globe now stage their own carnivals and street parades to celebrate gay, lesbian and trans culture. The movement has served an important campaigning role over the years, calling for the mainstream acceptance of sexual diversity and drawing attention to a range of rights issues and injustices associated with the cause.
Throughout this summer, many Pride Parades have taken place across Italy, where GE and Baker Huges GE (BHGE) gave strong support thanks to the leadership from the GLBTA Affinity Network: this year, they have participated in 5 Prides to accord with the many business hubs and headquarters around Italy.
Why does GE/BHGE participate in Pride? Participation in Pride confirms both GE's and BHGE’s commitment to policies of equal opportunities, inclusion, and promotion of diversity of all kinds, as already highlighted during the " Italian Diversity & Inclusion Week". A solid culture of diversity and inclusiveness is fundamental for the success of our business and for enhancing the talents and potential of each of us.
For the GLBTA Network, connecting with the communities is of upmost importance, by helping to grow the reputation of a workplace where employees live and work authentically through community engagement, such a Pride. “Torino Pride was amazing for me. I always attend this event as a citizen, but this time it was extra special. I am proud to work in a Company that gives value to events like this, promoting GE and Avio Aero participation. It was a beautiful experience to share this joyful event with my colleagues” said Lucrezia Polito – Executive Assistance in Avio Aero. “It is important to me to be an ally, and to speak out loud in order assure that all the human beings have the same rights, and those who still do not have them do not feel alone. Every one of us can do something to change the world, step by step”.
Since the first Pride almost 5 decades ago, LGBT rights have significantly improved globally, including the creation of anti-discrimination laws, further equal opportunities, and the depletion of prejudice. Within the past 5 years, global states that criminalize homosexuality have fallen from 83 to 72. Closer to home in Italy, as of 2016, the Italy government now recognises same-sex couples (like cohabitation or civil union). Nonetheless, prevalent bias remains globally, where annual – and growing – Pride Parades continually fight for acceptance.
"It was an honour to participate in events such as Siena Pride as a representative of BHGE and promoter of an inclusive culture. I was struck by the positive and proactive attitude with which so many "different" realities were united by the common objective of promoting equal opportunities” said Mariateresa Barba - Edison Engineering Development Program Associate at BHGE.
“Diversity is powerful”: in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, we find that two-thirds of the 10,000 leaders surveyed cited diversity and inclusion as “important” or “very important” to business. But diversity is not enough if not supported by inclusion. What do we mean with inclusion? It is about creating freedom from anxiety and worry, letting unconscious biases surface so to get minimized through genuine information and the establishment of a culture where people are listened and understood – everyday.
“I saw people whom believe in equality and that diversity is an added value and not something to fear” Pasquale Felago, Principle Manufacturing Engineer Manager, was another participant from Avio Aero. “I saw colours…and the desire to stop seeing the world just in black or white…but coloured! If we want to engage people, we must be the first to inspire active participation to these kinds of events. I really feel the need and urgency to share with all the GE people (and not only) what is LGBT: ignorance must be fought, and it can be done only by informing people. GE is one of the biggest companies in the world and it must be ready to welcome every diversity: this can also help to the businesses growing.”
The rainbow flag has developed over the decades, starting from the first design produced by Gilbert Baker in 1978 for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Celebration. The 8 initial colours – reduced to 6 in 1979 – are driven by their meaning, representing diversity in the GLBTA Community around the world: pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. Leading by example and informing people are the two most effective approaches to develop an inclusive environment at work and then spreading it around.
“I learnt that, even today, there are many young people who are not free to express their sexuality; hence, I took part because I felt that it was a duty as an ally, because I believe in participation, and also a bit out of curiosity. I am an Ally of the GLBTA because I believe that no one should be discriminated for his/her sexual orientation, the same concept that I apply in PDN (People with Disability Network, ed.).” Giuseppe Schillaci, Senior Operations Manager at BHGE, believes this and also that the business world is evolving very fast, other big company show their inclusive face with pride, everyone must be more inclusive though.
Understanding the role of allies and getting people to make the step from intangible curiosity to concrete action is one of the top priorities of the GLBTA Affinity Group. Enabling the flow of information on LGBT+ matters increases the number of allies and helps to contrast the major source of discrimination: ignorance. Over the last years the focus has been on establishing a minimum rate of diversity within the businesses: the goal has now shifted towards leveraging that diversity to enhance the overall results. The correlation between diversity and success is not direct: it comes from the addition of all the factors generated by an inclusive workplace, such as employee satisfaction, recruiting top talents, facilitating exchanges of view and avoiding conflicts.
“I had never been to a Pride before and the one in Barletta Pride was a spectacular experience for me. I couldn’t be happier to join such a colourful and fun crowd of people shouting their rights at the top of their lungs to the rest of the world. I was struck by the joyful atmosphere surrounding us throughout all our walk downtown… Diversity is powerful and we all have a duty as human beings to defend it against prejudice and misconception” said, right after attending the pride event, Alessandro Bandini - OMLP in Avio Aero
Always in GE and BHGE, we see diversity and inclusiveness as an essential part of our productivity, creativity, innovation, and competitive advantage. Inclusion is essential for free thinking and great ideas to circulate freely, while diversity is an imperative to foster people's wonderful ideas.