Here at Zayo, we firmly believe diverse perspectives are part of what makes our company a great place to work. Our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) statement reads: “…we believe diverse perspectives drive innovative ideas and fuel our growth. We foster a culture where every Zayoite feels seen, valued, respected, and empowered to be their most authentic self.” This is not just a statement; it is the cornerstone of our success.
Zayo Employees Share Their Thoughts for Pride Month
One of the ways Zayo fosters this culture is through our employee resource groups (ERGs). One such group is our Pride@Zayo ERG, dedicated to celebrating and empowering LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. Now, let’s hear firsthand from some of its members. They will share their personal experiences and what Pride Month means to them.
“Employers can benefit from creating an inclusive environment as Zayo has done, in which LGBTQ+ policies are publicized, Pride events are celebrated, and an employee support group exists.”
Shelby Gregori, People & Culture Operations Partner
My experience with Zayo’s Pride Employee Resource Group is more than I could have imagined. I did not realize when joining how much I would need this ERG in my everyday life. I’ve gained a newfound hope and inspiration because of my other Pride colleagues – they exemplify what love truly is, they’re open-minded, and they have so much compassion for everyone.
Employers can support LGBTQ+ employees by creating an inclusive and accepting work environment. Ways to show support include non-discrimination policies, equal benefits, resource groups, diversity and inclusion training, LGBTQ+ events, mental health support, and partnerships with LGBTQ+ organizations. Supporting LGBTQ+ employees is an ongoing process that will need feedback from employees to help evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives to continue making improvements.
From personal experience, Zayo maintains an inclusive platform for members of its LGBTQ+ community. The members of this group provide a safe place, support, humility, and encouragement to anyone involved. Employers can benefit from creating an inclusive environment as Zayo has done, in which LGBTQ+ policies are publicized, Pride events are celebrated, and an employee support group exists.
Employers should care about diversity and inclusion with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity today because it aligns with societal changes, legal requirements, talent needs, employee well-being, innovation, customer satisfaction, market relevance, and ethical responsibilities. Embracing diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but it also contributes to a more successful and sustainable business.
“The more that we can use the preferred pronouns for individuals, and accept each other for who we are at our core, the more comfortable we can be at work.”
Kelly Schweitzer, Business Systems Analyst Specialist
I joined the Pride@Zayo ERG last year as an ally, as I have an adult child that is transgender. I have been able to share my experiences as a parent and learn a lot from the other members. We are a very caring group of individuals and having the support of Zayo to participate in something so important is fantastic.
Employers can support LGBTQ+ employees by not only providing ERGs but ensuring that all of our daily work systems have the flexibility to have people called by their preferred names versus defaulting to a legal name. Being a parent to a transgender adult, this is something I’ve heard directly about from them and has raised my sensitivity to these situations. I was able to use that voice last year when we were rolling out a new ticketing system, and we were able to get it addressed quickly. Showing that flexibility, and willingness to continue to learn from the employees is HUGE!
Personally, having been in the industry for 40+ years I’ve seen such great growth. The more that we can use the preferred pronouns for individuals, and accept each other for who we are at our core, the more comfortable we can be at work. We spend so much of our waking hours at work, we want to feel accepted and heard and continue to see positive growth.
Employers should care about diversity and inclusion because these are very strong values for more and more of humanity. Most individuals want to know they are making a difference, and making that difference for a company that is supportive of diversity and inclusion is very important.
“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 Kingdon, Strategic Customer Success Manager
Our community is facing a backlash, especially here in Colorado with the shooting at Club Q last summer. The support that Pride@Zayo provides gives us a safe space to be ourselves, without fear of retribution or discrimination.
I believe that now, more than ever, we need our corporate employers to support the LGBTQ+ community. They can do this by encouraging ERGs like Pride, sponsoring local events like Denver Pride or Boulder Pride, and ensuring that each and every employee is treated with respect and dignity, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
As a community, we have made impressive strides towards equality but our journey is not over. I firmly believe that corporations need to be vocal about anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in states where we conduct business. 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.
We spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our family and friends in most instances. If we can’t be comfortable in the workplace, then we can’t truly be comfortable anywhere. Employers should care about diversity and inclusion today because we are the people that make up your corporations. We are the ones on the front line, the ones in the back office, the ones in the NOC, or the ones selling products and services. We are everywhere. And we have to know that our employer has our back.
“When I have the opportunity to share a space with my fellow employees, a space whose entire purpose is to acknowledge each of us beyond our job descriptions, it’s so dang fulfilling!”
Stacy Jackson, Product Communications Manager
I think that we have no choice but to come to work as whole people. Even when we put on our most professional faces, who we really are inside – that’s still in there. So when I have the opportunity to share a space with my fellow employees, a space whose entire purpose is to acknowledge each of us beyond our job descriptions, it’s so dang fulfilling! Every ERG serves this purpose, but the Pride ERG has truly been a special experience. Issues of gender identity and sexual orientation have always been deeply personal for me. But when influencers spout hate that leads to violence, when our politicians use language that leads to loathsome and divisive legislation… I get nervous.
The Pride ERG – we’ve all said it – it’s free therapy! It’s a community where we can all bathe in acceptance and mutual well-being, in visibility and support. Where we can say to each other, “I see you, I understand you, and I’m with you.” For me it’s as simple as that. For me the power lies in the simplicity.
“The ERG expanded my professional network, facilitated learning from others’ experiences, and enhanced my leadership skills.”
Shawn Edwards, SVP Chief Security Officer
From the moment I stepped into the Pride@Zayo ERG, I felt a sense of belonging and acceptance unlike any organization before.
Pride@Zayo fosters a genuine sense of acceptance and inclusivity. As an ally, I felt embraced and valued for my support, regardless of my sexual orientation or gender identity. The ERG provides a safe space for open dialogue, celebrating diverse perspectives. Being part of a community that appreciates the unique contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals is empowering.
Zayo’s Pride ERG offers invaluable networking and professional development opportunities. Through their initiatives, I connected with like-minded individuals and gained insights from experienced LGBTQ+ leaders. The ERG expanded my professional network, facilitated learning from others’ experiences, and enhanced my leadership skills.
The recent Pride Book Club provided a platform to explore LGBTQ+ literature, fostering insightful discussions. This initiative broadened my understanding of diverse LGBTQ+ experiences and deepened my appreciation for storytelling. The ERG also organizes fundraising events like the Pride 5K and Pride Parade, making a tangible impact by supporting LGBTQ+ organizations.
By implementing inclusive policies, establishing ERGs, offering diversity training, providing safe reporting channels, supporting transgender employees, and celebrating LGBTQ+ events, employers can create a positive work environment and contribute to a more inclusive society. Joining an ERG like Zayo’s Pride@Zayo is a powerful way to support LGBTQ+ employees and actively advocate for diversity and inclusion. It offers networking opportunities, impactful initiatives, and recognition of outstanding contributions.
“I think the biggest way one can support our LGBTQIA+ employees is to be an active listener. By listening, you gain empathy and understanding for those that are different from you.”
Jen Petsche, Executive Assistant
Under the context of the Pride@Zayo ERG, I am having deep and meaningful conversations, and gaining amazing new coworking friends. It is an incredible resource for me as an ally, as I am learning how I can be a better advocate. I am proud to be a part of Zayo’s Pride ERG.
I think the biggest way one can support our LGBTQIA+ employees is to be an active listener. By listening, you gain empathy and understanding for those that are different from you. It’s also about checking your preconceived thoughts and opinions at the door. We are all different by nature, and the quicker we can acknowledge our differences, the quicker we can come together. That alone can create a deeper bond and a better sense of teamwork, connection and belonging.
The world is a very diverse place. Each person has something special to bring to the table. We all have different experiences, backgrounds, points of view, and contexts. It is important to come together with the intention and goal of inclusion, so that we can all learn a little bit more from each other.
“Everyone has a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor who is part of the LGBTQ+ community and it’s our collective responsibility to create a more inclusive, healthy, and welcoming world for us all to be part of.”
Michael Oates, Director, P&C Strategy and Integrations
Zayo’s Pride ERG has been incredibly welcoming and provides a refreshing opportunity to connect with your co-workers on important topics and get to know people across the business. Recently we started a book club and discussed The Miseducation of Cameron Post which helped to foster meaningful discussion and learning for all involved.
Fostering an inclusive and supportive workplace where people are empowered not only to do their best work, but to be their full selves in the process is a great way for employers to support LGBTQ+ employees. Having a Pride ERG is an excellent place for any employer to start, and building on top of that employers should look at how we can best support LGBTQ+ employees and their allies including health, wellness, and mental health resources, celebrating Pride events, and encouraging the use of inclusive language. Something as simple as adding pronouns next to your name can have a profound effect.
Everyone has a family member, friend, colleague, or neighbor who is part of the LGBTQ+ community and it’s our collective responsibility to create a more inclusive, healthy, and welcoming world for us all to be part of. In the workplace specifically, we get the opportunity to work with people from all different walks of life. It’s important for us to celebrate that diversity and use it to make our business stronger.
“I love that I can come to work at Zayo each day and be my whole self.”
Sierra Thornley, Senior Manager, People & Culture Operations
As a remote employee, it was really important to me to build a sense of connection and belonging with my peers, so I joined the Pride ERG meetings. I was surprised at how open and honest everyone is – it really feels like a safe space to share and have a support network. I love that I can come to work at Zayo each day and be my whole self.
A couple of things employers can do to support LGBTQ+ issues are to educate themselves before creating LGBTQIA+ programs and to put the right people in charge. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen employers mix up gender identity and sexual orientation thinking they’re the same thing. Getting these simple things right shows that employers care and are committed to educating themselves. I love that Zayo just hired a Sr. DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) Manager. This really showcases our company’s commitment to embracing diversity and cultivating a culture with a strong sense of belonging.
A common misconception is that there are more people with a diverse sexual orientation or gender identity today than previous generations, but that is not the case. There are not more people than before, younger generations are just demanding more visibility and to bring their whole selves to work. This is causing employers to reevaluate the wants and needs of their employees. Employers should care about diversity and inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity because it’s the right thing to do to make sure everyone feels like they can come to work and not have to hide (I’ve been there and it’s not fun).
I’m proud to say that at Zayo, I feel like the company really does care about fostering an open and inclusive environment, especially with the Pride@Zayo ERG.
“I feel proud to work for an organization that empowers its employees to be who they are, the way Zayo does.”
Stéphane Kingue, Manager, Order Experts
I feel proud to work for an organization that empowers its employees to be who they are, the way Zayo does. We spend so much of our time at work, that encouraging our LGBTQ+ family to be their true and full selves in the workplace is not only a game-changer but also the right thing to do.
Zayo’s Pride ERG provides this incredible platform for our LGBTQ+ employees and their allies to hear and be heard, to speak out and support, to be celebrated, and to remember that they’re not a bug and they’re not alone. It’s also a formidable source of hope in these uncertain times, where so many of our fundamental rights are at risk.
As a citizen, I find it incredibly important for workplaces to stand up for what is right. Businesses are very powerful players in modern society, and genuine support for their LGBTQ+ workforce can only go a long way toward fostering a global culture of listening, learning, and cultivating empathy and compassion.
Any action that nurtures a friendly, welcoming, and safe environment, encouraging human-to-human dialogue for people of various backgrounds to see through their differences and grasp what they have in common, is a firm step in the right direction.
Overall, as wealth-making machines more businesses should endeavour to cultivate diversity for a simple reason: Each and every individual brings their own very unique perspective to the table, like a coin… and only by adding these coins together can any place truly enrich itself.