Recognizing and appreciating our diverse employees, participants and community
From employee awareness to social media posts and from our rainbow logo to dressing in rainbow colors, SOAR365 is excited to celebrate Pride Month this June.
At SOAR365, part of being an Employer of Choice and Best in Class means making all our employees feel like they can be their true selves while at work. SOAR365 prides itself on the diversity of our employees and program participants. We are striving to create a more inspiring, respectful, and inclusive environment that welcomes diversity both amongst our staff and to the individuals we serve.
That’s why we made an important addition to our strategic plan: Cultivating a workplace that includes Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility.
What is Pride Month?
Pride Month is a celebration for members of the LBGTQ+ community to celebrate the freedom to be their true authentic selves. The month also recognizes the impact that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning individuals have had on history – like Billie Jean King and Harvey Milk (just to name a few). The PRIDE movement dates back to 1969, when members of the LGBTQ+ community clashed with NYC police, known as the “Stonewall Riots.” The rainbow flag was designed in 1978 by Gilbert Baker in conjunction with Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the US. The rainbow is now recognized as a global symbol of peace and unity for the LGBTQ+ community.
Celebrating Pride Month at SOAR365
SOAR365’s logo already features a rainbow of colors, but for the month of June, we were excited to unveil a special logo to support Pride Month.
Additionally, SOAR365 will be hosting Rainbow Day on Wednesday, June 22 to show support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, participants, and community. On this day, we invite everyone to dress in vibrant rainbow colors to show their support and celebrate PRIDE!
Intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Disability
More than a third of LGBTQ people identify as having a disability. In addition to celebrating Pride and the contributions of LGBTQ+ advocates, Pride Month is also an opportunity to recognize the challenges to equity and inclusion that still exist, which can be even greater for LGBTQ+ people of color and LBGTQ+ people with disabilities. These barriers can be particularly pervasive for LGBTQ+ people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, who often feel out of place in both the LGBTQ+ and disability communities. (Source: Celebrating and Supporting LGBTQ+ People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities | ACL Administration for Community Living)
Emmett Patterson’s 2015 interview with three disability justice advocates highlights:
The first discussion about LGBTQ+ members with disabilities in the White House
The intersections of both communities
What allies can do to support these communities
Want to follow on social media some inspiring LGBTQ+ activists with disabilities? Emma Purcell from Diversity Horizons wrote a list of the best folks to follow!
Rainbow Day at SOAR365
One of the ways we highlighted Pride Month was by hosting Rainbow Day on Wednesday, June 22, for which we invited all staff and program participants to wear rainbow colors in honor and celebration of Pride. Check out some of the pictures!
From My Perspective
By Kendall Rice, AVP of Compliance, Case Management and Quality
When I started working for SOAR365 in 2016 in Compliance, I was hesitant to disclose my sexuality – not because I was embarrassed or ashamed, but because I was unsure on how it would be received by my colleagues and management. I didn’t want to be defined by my sexuality, as that has nothing to do with my ability to perform my job. As I went through orientation and met a few of the people who I was going to be working with, I was so relieved to meet employees who were openly gay at the workplace. I met a lesbian married couple who both worked for SOAR365 at the time, and it was obvious that they were known and respected for how good they were at their jobs – not because they were a gay couple. This, combined with the fact that my direct supervisor was extremely open-minded and respected ALL employees, made me realize that I didn’t need to hide anything about myself to be accepted in my workplace. This eliminated the anxiety that I had about disclosing my sexuality and allowed me to solely focus on my job responsibilities. My wife Tracy is well-known amongst SOAR365 staff and attends several functions each year. When we became engaged, staff members threw us a wedding shower and we were so surprised and honored.
I am proud of my workplace since I know from first-hand experience that SOAR365 employees will not be judged or defined by their sexuality or by being an ally to those in the community.
I encourage everyone to think about what PRIDE may mean to them and how they can be more authentic to themselves or show support to those LGBQT employees and individuals.