listen. culture

Why Pride Matters

Donna Milrod (She, Her, Hers) | State Street Corporation

June 16,2021

Pride month is a special time of year for millions of people around the world.

I have many fond memories of enjoying the amazing celebration that is Pride in New York City; attending parades and marches, and seeing friends and colleagues draped in a rainbow of color in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Yet, after more than half a century of Pride parades, some people may ask if we still need such celebrations. My answer? You bet we do!

The origins of Pride stem from oppression, a lack of representation, and an inability for every person to feel accepted and safe in their own home or community. The first-ever Pride parade took place in New York on June 28, 1970 exactly one year after the Stonewall Uprising. At that time, being gay was illegal in many places, including the United States. And, while strides toward inclusivity have been made,  today there are still 71 countries where being part of the LGBTQ+ community is illegal. In 11 countries, it is punishable by death.*

For years, Pride events have been used as a way to celebrate and create awareness, as well as demonstrate for legal rights, such as same-sex marriage. For some in the LGBTQ+ community, Pride may be the only time of the year when they can feel celebrated for being who they are. For others, there is still no time or space where they feel comfortable or even safe being themselves. The pervasiveness of anti-Trans legislation is a powerful and somber reminder that for many, the road to equity is still long and difficult. And discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in employment, health care, housing, lending and education persists.

This is why Pride still matters. And why it’s important for me to serve as co-sponsor of State Street Pride.

No matter how you celebrate Pride, the important thing is to get involved. Let your rainbow colors show – this month and every month.

As a global organization, we know that our differences are what make us a stronger company. Through our commitment to developing an environment that offers equal opportunities to individuals with distinctive backgrounds and unique perspectives, we’re helping to create an environment where our employees feel valued and seen.

I’m also proud that State Street has joined the Human Rights Campaign’s Business Coalition to support the passage of the Equality Act to provide full, federal legal protections for all LGBTQ+ Americans.

For Ram Abbireddy, an assistant vice president with our accounting development support team and the co-chair of State Street Pride, the celebration of Pride has become an avenue to embrace people of every color and culture. “For me, living authentically is a choice I get to make. As an immigrant, I’ve come to understand just how important the laws are that protect my rights to be who I am.”  

This month, our State Street Pride network is hosting a series of internal events to educate, inspire, support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. One of the tools helping to raise collective awareness is a new email signature that encourages colleagues to state their preferred pronouns. This can serve as an indicator to the Trans community that you are an ally and someone with whom they can feel safe sharing their preferred pronouns. As more people state their preferred pronouns, it encourages and normalizes discussions around gender and helps expand empathy and understanding. 

Allies are needed everywhere. In every community. And in every organization,” Anthony Ostler reminds us. As co-sponsor of State Street Pride and head of Stakeholder Engagement for State Street Global Marketing, Anthony understands how changes big and small — such as creating a Pride-theme logo to sharpening our awareness and education — can make a real difference. In sharing his story on ally activation, he emphasizes how it has made him a stronger colleague and leader.

Pride events in your local community can be a great way to get to know your neighbors and community members. And they are an important way to show support this month and throughout the year.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color, I take every opportunity to be courageous and put myself out there. I share my story when I meet new people, so I can show compassion and give hope to those who may be struggling to come out,” says Bhanu Gopal. An assistant vice president with our accounting and recordkeeping team and the communications lead for State Street Pride, he believes that the celebration of Pride can serve as a reminder of how far equality and inclusion have come for the LGBTQ+ community and how far there is to go.

No matter how you celebrate Pride, the important thing is to get involved. Let your rainbow colors show – this month and every month.

*Human Dignity Trust

Topics: Leadership , Diversity and Inclusion

Donna Milrod (She, Her, Hers) | State Street Corporation

Donna is an executive vice president and heads our Global Asset Managers Segment as well as the Global Clients Division. She is a member of our Management Committee and co-sponsor of State Street Pride.