50 years ago, on June 28th 1969, the New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The homophobic raid sparked a riot among bar patrons and neighbourhood residents as police roughly hauled employees and patrons out of the bar, leading to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar. The Stonewall Riots served as a polar star for the gay rights movement around the world, prompting the GLBT+ community to celebrate Pride Month every June.
Whilst being a celebration to rejoice the progressing equality evolution for the GLBT+ community, Pride month is also an opportunity to peacefully protest and raise political awareness of current issues facing the community. Parades are a prominent feature of Pride Month, and there are many street parties, community events, public speaking, street festivals and educational sessions all of which are covered by mainstream media and attracting millions of participants.
According to Daniele Rossi, Shop Operator at Avio Aero Beinasco, the Italian GLBT+ community really needs these events since there is still a long journey ahead of the global community to fight against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. “The prides are suitable for everyone, regardless of the sexual orientation and age, but also for all those who still have no courage to come out. Prides are created to feel at home, but above all to feel free to be yourself!”
Nowadays, in 72 countries being gay is still a crime ( ILGA) and you can be legally killed just for being who you are. Despite Italy generally being considered a gay-friendly nation where the public opinion is increasingly liberal on homosexuality, according to the Annual Review of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association - which examines the human rights situation of the GLBT+ people - Italy is positioned among the worst countries. It is located 35th out of 49 European countries because of its scarce achievement of GLBT+’s human rights.
Gender equality, basic rights and freedoms are existing and urgent contemporary themes that must be better addressed in national policies, and in such framework, prides are instruments of crucial importance to remind us that require proper attention because there is still a lot to be done. Pride matters, and it matters to Avio Aero, GE and every employee (including me). Pride helps to remind us and celebrate all that has been done to bring equality for GLBT+ people globally over the past 50 years. Nevertheless, there is still a long journey ahead to achieve resolute equality, which is why I am jubilant to see Avio Aero as a public ally, advocating rights and safety for any stakeholders. Because everyone matters.
Education is crucial to help our allies understand the worldwide inequalities (from employment to parenthood to legal existence) and how they can be a voice and advocate for better change. This year, Avio Aero and their GLBTA Alliance celebrated Pride Month by: adorning the Rainbow Flag on the site entrance flag poles, distributing gadgets to allies to accentuate visual advocacy, holding Celebrating Pride ally photos to raise awareness across sites, participating in Prides of Bari, Torino (where we were one of only a few companies attending) and Milano, and hosting an informative seminar on ‘The rights of GLBT workers in the last 50 years’, presented by Igor Suran, Executive Director of Parks.
Pride matters, and it matters to Avio Aero, GE and every employee (including me) as we celebrate previous achievements and advocate for further equal rights
The GLBTA Affinity Network was founded by GE in 2005 and has since grown year after year in the United States and the rest of the world, whereby Avio Aero created a dedicated hub in 2017. GE Italia (& Avio Aero) are also part of Parks - Liberi e Uguali, an association created to help member companies develop strategies and best practices to protect diversity.
Rosanna Viano, Principal Engineer - Testing in Turin-Rivalta, has been working in Avio Aero for the past 23 years and can therefore be considered a good witness of the advances achieved and of this long journey still in progress. "In 1993 when I joined the company (that was still Fiat Avio), the world was very different, and I never thought I'd live days like these, especially when in 1997 I started my transition. Today, I’m living in a completely different atmosphere ... our company is no longer ‘in tow' on GLBT+ issues, but it stands always on the front line. Such actions have brought me from feeling just happy about being represented by my company, to be proud as well to represent it”, says Rosanna.
Participation in Pride and celebrating Pride Month confirms Avio Aero’s commitment to policies of equal opportunities, inclusion and promotion of diversity of all kinds. As Leonardo Ciccacci told us: “Bari Pride was a fantastic experience and opportunity to stand with other colleagues all together under the flag of the GLBTA Hub, which has helped to demonstrate that our company is actively committed to an environment where everyone can feel free not to hide”.
We consider the sharing of a solid culture of inclusion fundamental for the success of our business and for enhancing the diverse talents and potential of each of us, as further demonstrated by the creation of the Avio Aero D&I Council this year. Indeed Marcio Perillo, Avio Aero CFO, declared: “the pride is a strong demonstration from all over the world that there are a lot people who care and fight for a more diverse and inclusive society and for Avio Aero, it is a great opportunity to reaffirm our D&I values that GE employees are so proud of.”
Always in Avio Aero, 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. As stated also by our Engineering VP, Giorgio Abrate: “At Avio Aero and at GE we have a simple belief that diverse teams are better and more successful, more colors create a better picture. Pride Month is a great chance for all of us to reflect on the value of diversity and to remember that we still have a long journey in front of us that we want to make because there are still many changes we want to drive.”
We need to keep on joining these events with growing determination because prides are also a lever to increase visibility and influence where there are no equal rights, and for social recognition where rights are provided. An annual celebration may not solve things, but for many it is an occasion of inspiration, empowerment and motivation.