Making Pride personal to break down barriers.

Making Pride Personal to Break Down Barriers 

Originally published on LinkedIn by Stefanie Straub, Global General Counsel

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For me, Pride Month is quite personal. Yes, it’s about supporting broader societal change, policy development, workplace cultural shifts for the LGBTQ+ community. But at the heart of Pride Month—and all inclusion and diversity efforts—are real people. Individuals with unique needs, perspectives, families, hopes, dreams, laughter and tears. And this is where change begins…at a deeply personal level.

I believe when you spend time with people who might be different from you, stereotypes tend to fall away. That’s because the more you can connect a familiar face to a foreign concept—whether it’s a different ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or sexual orientation—the less foreign that concept feels. And the moment you feel that human connection with someone you thought was different, any discrimination you might have felt—knowingly or unknowingly—begins to dissipate. And you begin to truly appreciate that everyone has the right to live their lives as they choose. Then, bit by bit, as open-minded individuals come together, we can drive broader change.

This is why Pride Month is so important. It marks a point in time to reflect and to acknowledge and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. It honors the people who came before, while raising awareness of how we can move forward together.

In the workplace, I’m proud of the progress Mars has made in the areas of inclusion and diversity (I&D), from signing the 2013 amicus (“friend of the court”) brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), to our current inclusion and diversity strategy. And, of being recognized for our support of Associates, like being named, once again, to Forbes’ America’s Best Employers for Diversity, ranking #131 of 500 companies.

To accelerate our efforts, we’ve recently spent considerable time listening to our Associates and leaders, auditing our talent pipeline, reviewing our I&D-related policies and procedures, and taking action to make Mars even more inclusive.

Fostering an inclusive culture is also part of the commitment I’ve made with my own global Legal team at Mars. Earlier today we held a live stream event, featuring a panel of Associates who shared their personal stories as members of the LGBTQ community. We also heard from P. Sabin Willett, the lead counsel on the amicus brief, and we discussed the critical role our legal function plays in advocating for human rights everywhere.

Here’s what really makes me proud: seeing people—both at work and in the community—share their passion for acceptance. For listening. For talking. For confronting biases. For coming together and being inclusive. And for making all of it personal.