BigPanda Proud: How PandaPRIDE Fosters Workplace Inclusion and Advocacy
Beyond being the right thing to do, fostering inclusivity in the workplace empowers employees to show up fully as their authentic selves. “BigPanda is the first shop where I have openly identified as non-binary because I felt safe enough to,” said one employee.
And considering how much of our life we spend working, BigPanda knows how critical it is to support colleagues with common identities and broader missions. So last year, BigPanda launched our first-ever company-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG) program to support this goal.
One of the first resource groups to launch was PandaPRIDE. “PandaPRIDE aims to encourage all LGBTQ+ colleagues to bring their whole, authentic selves to work, and to engage allies to create a supportive and inclusive environment,” says PandaPRIDE Global Chair Alec Down.
With this mission, one of the group’s first initiatives was a presentation on Allyship with Ren Dawe—a published author, poet, playwright who moonlights as a stand-up comedian and visual artist who is also a member of the trans community. Ren spoke to BigPanda employees, sharing critical insights for how to support LGBTQIA+ employees and become better allies.
How to Be a Workplace Ally 101
Being an ally at work starts with respecting the identities of our coworkers. Allyship also means educating ourselves on LGBTQIA+ topics, asking for and using our colleagues’ preferred pronouns, and educating ourselves. Given the emotional labor marginalized individuals can experience when educating others, rather than asking our co-workers to educate us, allies can pull from a vast array of online resources, such as learning what questions not to ask trans people or improving our awareness of our impact.
While the LGBTQIA+ community has made significant strides toward inclusion in the workplace, companies’ and colleagues’ efforts at inclusion can sometimes be more performative than substantive. To move to true allyship, PandaPRIDE member Lindsey Alvarez encourages us “speaking up and addressing these issues is a powerful way to create change.” She also recommends using our influence to advocate for inclusive policies, practices, and initiatives to support LGBTQIA+ rights in our workplaces.
PandaPRIDE member C Beers shares that while actual advocacy is hard to come by, there are important steps organizations can take, like having senior leadership attend LGBTQA awareness training or having company policies to ensure that queer/non-binary/trans folks don’t have to travel to states or countries that openly discriminate against them.
PandaPRIDE promotes belonging, development and advocacy
“I’d love to create a more inclusive workplace through education, communication, and mentorship,” PandaPRIDE’s Global Chair Alec Downs says. That’s why our goal as a group is to create a space for queer Pandas to feel safe voicing their concerns, fears, and celebrations and for allies to learn best-in-class allyship.
What’s PandaPRIDE working towards? Here’s how the group describes its four main objectives:
- Advocacy: Present a collective voice with senior leadership to ensure the development of processes and practices that sustain inclusivity initiatives in hiring and retention of Pandas.
- Recognition: Promote the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community at BigPanda and foster a sense of belonging for its members.
- Talent Development: Support the professional development of the community and its allies.
- Workforce Engagement: Sponsor activities and programs that empower, educate, and unify the BigPanda community.
Fostering inclusivity and support all year long
PandaPRIDE is more than just a community or an employee resource group. They are also an advocate for institutional change and are actively working to embed inclusivity at all levels.
BigPanda CEO Assaf Resnick shares,”Supporting employees to bring their best selves to work means fostering an environment where all are accepted. Our commitment to inclusivity is exemplified through our employee resource group program, providing valuable platforms for solidarity and support.
We must actively support our employees, ensuring they thrive and contribute their unique perspectives, talents, and experiences to our organization’s growth and success.”
Interested in attending upcoming PandaPRIDE events? Or curious about other BigPanda ERGs? Keep in touch and email us firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.