The Difference You can Make Beyond Pride Month
by Amanda Benton, Governance Analyst
June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. This time of year, I reflect on how proud I am to work for a company that embraces diversity and allows me to be an ally both in and out of the workplace.
As a mother of a lesbian daughter, being an ally is extremely important to me. While being an ally does enable me to support, empower, and advocate for the LGBTQ community, it also gives me great insight into the community itself. Listening to varying viewpoints, diverse opinions, and seeing the world with my eyes wide open has allowed me to grow into a more compassionate individual and constantly learn.
Renee Schultz, our Senior Vice President of Capital Markets, previously shared an internal blog about how diverse and dynamic American families have become. While we have come so far since the time before Proposition 8, we still have a long way to go. Currently, laws protecting the LGBTQ community from housing discrimination vary from state to state. As someone who works in the housing industry and having a daughter of the LGBTQ community, I want everyone to experience the dream of homeownership. It is up to us to stand up and fight for ALL people and help change our world for the better.
Through Fannie Mae's Live Openly Employee Resource Group (ERG), I'm able to promote being an Ally in the workplace. We offer Ally 101 trainings that provide important and helpful information, including:
- Challenges faced by LGBTQ people, their families, and friends
- Access to information and tools to support LGBTQ equality
- Tips on how to create an atmosphere of inclusivity for LGBTQ people and those who care most about them, and, ultimately, how to become empowered to create change
In addition to co-facilitating some of the Ally 101 trainings, I co-lead a Safe Space meeting each month. A Safe Space meeting is just that; a "safe space" that allows people to discuss topics of the LGBTQ community. In these meetings we discuss recent events in the news, the world, at home, and anything on your mind that day. Some of our Safe Space guidelines are:
- Be respectful of privacy and/or confidentiality
- Don't share another person's story without their consent
- Names stay, but learning leaves/Do take what is learned and share
- Everyone speaks once before anyone speaks twice
- Check presumptions at the door
- Disagree, but don't debate – no blanket statements
- Listen actively
- Speak only for yourself
- Ask permission to ask about another's identity
I always leave our Safe Space meetings feeling more empowered to promote change in the world! I am honored to co-lead these Courageous Conversations and work with such an empowering, diverse group of people here at Fannie Mae.
I hope that you will think about the difference you can make beyond Pride Month. Be kind. Be the change you wish to see in the world. I leave you with one of my daughter's favorite quotes:
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.