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Pride – It’s About More Than Rainbows

Blog

by Jay Bess, DEIB Benefits Program Manager

It’s Pride Month 2024, and you’re going to see a lot of rainbows through the month. It’s a lovely symbolic gesture for companies to recognize and celebrate their LGBTQI+ employees.

And while it’s a start, it’s wholly insufficient.

Rainbow flags alone don’t begin to address the deeper needs of this community. Far more crucial – where the rubber hits the road – are the tangible actions companies take to make certain that their LGBTQI+ employees and families not only feel supported and valued – they actually are supported and valued, every day of the year. 

At Zayo, we are committed to implementing policies and practices that ensure the health, belonging, and well-being of our LGBTQI+ workforce and their loved ones.

Physical Health

Each year, Zayo conducts a comprehensive review of our entire benefits program. With the help of our employees’ feedback, we identify gaps in coverage and work to fill those gaps. 

“My family? We’re every shade of the rainbow! And we truly appreciate the breadth of benefits Zayo offers. One small copay and my kids’ gender-affirming care is covered (and I’m breathing one huge sigh of relief knowing they have access to quality mental and medical healthcare).”

– Rob, Zayo finance employee

The changes we’ve made in the past years ensure that when LGBTQI+ employees need medical benefits, we provide them. The health insurance coverage we offer to employees covers hormone therapies and gender-affirming surgeries for transgender employees. All medical and health benefits for employees extend to same-sex partners and to their biological and adopted kids.

Our parental leave policies apply equally to domestic partners and same-sex couples. Whether you’re the birthing parent, the partner of a birthing parent, or an adoptive parent, you are covered for 6 weeks of recovery and bonding time, with 100% pay during this time.

Location, Location, Location…

Zayo’s headquarters is located in Colorado, and that’s no accident. Zayo’s breadth of coverage for this community is further bolstered by where we live. Colorado is one of the most LGBTQI+-friendly states in the Mountain West. The LGBTQI+ think tank Movement Advancement Project ranks Colorado among the highest scorers of LGBTQI+ equality rights – as scored by the state’s legislation.

All Zayo coverage is thoroughly reviewed and approved by our legal team – to ensure that we’re following local, state and federal laws. 

The state laws that contribute to Colorado’s winning score above include these broad categories of legislation, which, in turn, translate to generous coverage:

  • Relationship and parental recognition laws – including family services non-discrimination laws, recognition for parents using assistive reproduction, adoption, and foster care protections for LGBTQI+ parents, and more
  • State non-discrimination laws – including employment, housing, accommodations, credit, and lending, with no negative laws such as bathroom bans or strict marriage definitions
  • LGBTQI+ youth laws and policies – including nondiscrimination laws, anti-bullying laws, a requirement for curricular standards to be LGBTQI+-inclusive, a ban on conversion therapy, protection for LGBTQI+ youth in the child welfare system, and others
  • Equity in healthcare laws and policies – including non-discrimination in private health insurance, “shield laws” protecting access to transgender healthcare, Medicaid state  coverage for transgender people, data collection for LGBTQI+ adults and youth, and more
  • Criminal justice laws and policies – including hate crime laws covering LGBTQI+, bans on a public “panic” defense (this means that Colorado prohibits the use of legal defenses claiming the victim’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity contributed to the defendant’s actions), jury service non-discrimination, no restrictions on drag performances, and others
  • Identity documents laws – allowing transgender people to change their name and gender on official documents such as their birth certificates and driver’s licenses, and offering a gender-neutral option on these documents

Zayo is deeply committed to these progressive LGBTQI+ policies, taking inspiration from the inclusive practices of our home state of Colorado. This commitment extends beyond our headquarters. We ensure that the values that foster equity are upheld across all our global offices. In this way, we continue to reflect our overall company philosophy of providing an inclusive, supportive environment for every Zayo employee, no matter their physical location.

Mental Health

After an extensive search for stellar mental health coverage for our LGBTQI+ employees and family members, we’re now offering comprehensive coverage through a partner that specializes in the specific mental health needs of this community.

Employees now have 8 free coaching sessions and 8 free therapy sessions with a coach or therapist through Modern Health they vet for the expertise required, so they can be perfectly paired according to how they identify. Zayo also covers continued therapy beyond these 8 initial sessions through our medical plan. 

“Pride is not about changing your logo to a rainbow during June, it’s about demonstrating a full commitment to inclusion and diversity year-round.”

– John, Zayo customer success employee

Employees also have unlimited group sessions (called “circles”) through Modern Health with learning and support groups according to the topics they’re most interested in. Topics just this month include:

  • LGBTQI+ Allyship: How to be an Effective Ally
  • Transgender Allyship: A Listen and Learn Session
  • LGBTQI+ Individuals: A Community Space
  • Transgender & Gender Diverse Individuals: A Community Space

Some sessions are reserved for the community itself, others are open to all. Session goals can be purely educational, or more interactive. 

The mental health needs are as varied as is the community, and Zayo strives to cover it all.

Belonging

Sometimes it’s as simple as establishing gender-neutral restrooms and free feminine supplies in office locations. Other times it involves company-wide, top-down managed and sponsored resource groups.

Zayo aims to tackle the issues most important to our employees. To make certain that all employees can come to work exactly as who they are, we have established an active and thriving community of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) across interests. These employee-led and executive-sponsored groups play a crucial role in creating an environment where employees can bring their authentic selves to work.

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Pride@Zayo is more than just an ERG; it’s a vibrant community where individuals can express their true selves and find support and camaraderie. This group is instrumental in both internal engagement and external representation of Zayo’s commitment to LGBTQI+ rights and inclusion.

Pride Social Hours

One of the highlights of Pride@Zayo is the Pride Social Hours. These informal virtual gatherings provide a safe community space for employees to come together, share experiences, and support one another. We’ve discussed personal journeys, we’ve celebrated with each other, we’ve wrangled over current legislation, and we’ve simply enjoyed chats over coffee. These sessions foster a sense of belonging, solidarity, friendship, and family among LGBTQI+ Zayoites and allies.

Pride Learning Series

Education is a powerful tool for fostering understanding and acceptance, and extends “belonging” to the entire company. The Pride Learning Series at Zayo invites all employees to come, minds open, to learn about issues within the LGBTQI+ community. Topics range from understanding gender fluidity and what it means to be transgender, to exploring the distinctions between sexual identity, gender, sexual orientation, and biological sex. These sessions are particularly beneficial for employees who have friends or family members within the LGBTQI+ community, offering them the knowledge and empathy to provide better support.

Pride… Waffle Brunches!

A Pride Month celebration across Zayo offices – everyone’s invited to freshly-made waffles, all the toppings, and a huge helping of camaraderie.

Denver Pride Parade

Zayo’s participation in the Denver Pride Parade is a testament to our commitment to LGBTQI+ visibility and support. Employees march together under the Zayo banner, exuding joy and pride in their community. We’re proud to showcase Zayo’s support for LGBTQI+ rights, and to strengthen the bond among employees who share in this significant experience.

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Intersectionality with all ERGs

Zayo’s many thriving ERGs share a common thread of belonging – and this means that none of them exist exclusively in their own bubble. When the ERGs take steps to promote inclusion, they also do it together. When we see overlap – issues that impact many among our diverse employees, we bring everyone together for cross-ERG discussions and celebrations. 

Pride@Zayo works together with all of Zayo’s ERGs:

Women @ Zayo

Women@Zayo ERG
Focused on empowering women in the workplace through mentorship, networking events, and professional development opportunities.

Veterans @ Zayo

Veterans@Zayo ERG
Dedicated to supporting veterans and their families, providing resources for career transition, and fostering a sense of community.

Multicultural @ Zayo

Multicultural@Zayo ERG
Celebrates cultural diversity within the company, organizing events that educate and unite employees of different backgrounds.

Mental Health Disability @ Zayo

Mental Health & Disability Advocacy@Zayo ERG
Provides a safe space and unbiased peer support for Zayoites who have experienced or cared for others with mental health issues at any point in their lives.

Sustainability @ Zayo

Sustainability@Zayo ERG
Focused on programs that “do good while doing well” and drive environmental and social improvements in our office, our community, and beyond. 

By engaging with employees across the organization, Pride@Zayo not only strengthens cross-ERG solidarity but also promotes a greater understanding of the multifaceted identities and challenges that our employees navigate daily. These collaborative efforts help build an environment where every individual feels valued, empowered, included.

About the Author

by Jay Bess

DEIB Benefits Program Manager

Ready to join a company that values diversity and inclusion?

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