June is known as “Pride Month” in the United States, a time to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that began in New York City on June 28, 1969, and launched what grew into today’s movement for LGBTQIA+ rights. Pride (as opposed to shame and social stigma) is promoted within the LGBTQIA+ community as a way to bolster equality, dignity, and visibility.
As we celebrate the progress that we've made towards equality, we also highlight hardships still facing the LGBTQIA+ community during the month of June.
At Indigo, our Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) advocates for LGBTQIA+ employees and works to make sure Indigo is a workplace where everyone can be their most authentic selves. They also organize activities, some of which include happy hours, educational discussions, and even a virtual Pride parade.
We caught up with two of the ERG’s leaders, Jennifer Lilly and Samantha (Sam) Horvath, to learn more about the Pride landscape at Indigo and beyond.
Here are some of the questions that we threw at them and their responses.
It seems Indigo is doing more to celebrate Pride month this year. How has that evolved over time?
Jennifer Lilly: I've been at Indigo for about a year and a half – and when I first started – the only thing that Indigo did to celebrate Pride was hang a rainbow flag at the Boston office (and it was accompanied by a note explaining the purpose of the rainbow flag). A lot more is happening today though, and we’ve made significant progress!
Big companies and major brands seem to be embracing Pride celebrations in a way that I haven't noticed before. Do you all feel like there's a greater acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community now?
Sam Horvath: I'm going to use the word “popularity” – it's become increasingly popular to recognize the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly during the month of June, but I think there is a lot of concern within the community that it’s all just very “face value.” Meaning, simply posting to social media or changing the color of a logo is nice, even at a superficial level, but at the same time, there's a lot more that needs to be done.
You’re leading the Pride ERG at Indigo (and thank you for doing that). Before Indigo – did either of you participate in any broader Pride activities?
Jennifer Lilly: I've been a leader of Pride groups at most companies in which I’ve worked. While I was with Bayer, I founded the first Pride group within the agricultural division. And while at BASF, I co-led their Pride ERG group, too.
Sam Horvath: I'm taking a more active role in supporting and advocating. I've never worked at a company that was large enough to have an HR team and an ERG, and so these things are all actually very new to me. But so many of my close family and friends are members of the community that I want to support them, and I want to understand their struggles.
What are some of the things you all are trying to achieve through your leadership of this group? Are there some milestones you're trying to hit?
Jennifer Lilly: We’re taking a three-pronged approach to how our ERG works at Indigo – The first prong is how do we support our LGBTQIA+ employees? What resources can we provide them? How can we drive change at Indigo to make it a more supportive environment?
The second prong would be, how do we bring in allies? How do we teach allies? Or how do we teach people how to be good allies? How do we encourage allyship? And also how do we support employees with LGBTQIA+ family members?
The third prong that we're really just now starting to think about is how do we support this community that exists within Ag in general (and in Tech, because we're both an Ag company and a Tech company). Whenever we plan an event, we're thinking about who it might be supporting.
We’re very balanced in our group thinking about how we’re supporting our LGBTQIA+ employees, and how we’re supporting our allies. But thinking about beyond Indigo – it’s important that we clean our house first before we start cleaning someone else's house.
What are the things you have planned for Indigo this month? I know there’s a parade coming up at the end of the month, so I’d love to hear about that?
Sam Horvath: We're trying to host an event each week while also leaving space for the other ERGs and events that make June special.
We're trying to balance and focus on sort of both aspects of Pride and of LGBTQIA+. So we watched an Asian LGBTQIA+ focused movie offline and then later chatted about it. And we had actually a really good mix of both ERG members who are leading the event and then also people from the Indigo broader community – some of whom had seen the movie, some of them had just wanted to drop in and hear what was happening. So it was nice to have some new faces and people that we hadn't seen before.
We hosted a “Prideside chat” last Tuesday, which turned out to be a great event.
Jennifer Lilly: Yeah. That one was nice because it was actually a closed event, so we had it just for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and women in tech. It was nice to create a safe space for people to air frustrations they're experiencing and get ideas from other people on how to handle difficult situations and think about how we can drive Indigo to become a more welcoming space.
What would success look like for this ERG?
Jennifer Lilly: Success looks like every employee feeling they have a right to be themselves at Indigo.
Sam Horvath: I think that success would be that the LGBTQIA+ community sees Indigo as a place where they want to go – a place where they can be who they are and are embraced for who they are. It’s not about recruitment or advertisement; it’s about having the community view Indigo as a safe (and fun!) place to be.