By David Selby
Traditionally, summer kicks off the various pride festivals and parades around the world. But as we know, 2020 is, looks and feels very different. So how we honor and celebrate the LGBT+ journey will look different, with major events like San Diego’s Pride Parade being held virtually this year. Regardless, Pride remains an important opportunity to reflect upon the tremendous strides made over decades and celebrate how far we’ve come.
From small gestures like our recently raising the rainbow pride flag over the Hillcrest Bank of America financial center where I work, to the significant victories like last month’s the Supreme Court decision protecting workplace protections for LGBT+ employees everywhere, the power of community truly shines during Pride month.
In fact, the workplace has been an important arena for LGBT+ employees over the decades, where many of the basic resources available today such as domestic partner benefits or adoption support may seem commonplace now. But that was not always the case. In countless instances, it was private sector actions and the business community that became the early allies and adopters of workplace protections and benefits at times when public policy was lacking.
I take particular pride that my employer, Bank of America, established one of the first human resources policies in the country for employees with AIDS in the early 1980s, a time when the AIDS crisis first emerged and was still misunderstood. More than 20 years ago, the bank also became the first financial services company to offer domestic partner benefits to our employees. And in 2008, we extended health benefits to include medically necessary procedures for transgender employees.
From comprehensive health care coverage to life event resources for our trans employees and a council of visibly out-at-work senior executives, our company has been ahead of many in courageous conversations toward greater equality. In doing so, Bank of America cultivates a safe, equitable and inclusive environment for LGBT+ employees, which not only creates a productive workplace but also attracts top talent.
In fact, research shows a correlation between LGBT+ employees who feel comfortable in their workplace setting and higher levels of productivity. Happy employees create happier experiences for clients.
It’s one of the reasons why Bank of America financially supports — with our employees volunteering hundreds of hours annually to local LGBT+ nonprofits such as San Diego Pride and The San Diego LGBT Community Center. These organizations, in addition to doing good for their members, also host events that contribute to the local economy.
Traditionally, the San Diego Pride Festival helps local businesses, including gay-friendly restaurants, reach full capacity and brings tremendous revenue to Hillcrest and the San Diego area. With mass gatherings canceled this year, Bank of America is a sponsor of Pride Live: Together We Rise, a day-long virtual event showcasing community organizations, volunteers, community leaders, elected officials, businesses, and entertainers who make Pride possible every year.
In addition to investing in LGBT+ employee and community organizations, the private sector also brings valuable resources to customers. For example, our wealth management firm Merrill has financial advisers who advise LGBT+ clients about the specific laws that impact finances, wealth generation and retirement plans for LGBT+ households.
There’s no question that the region’s LGBT+ community continues to grow and represents immense business and economic potential. As a major private sector company, we see the “business” of pride as a win-win formula for clients and consumers, as well as employees and the community who identify as LGBT+.
As various pride events commence virtually, let’s recognize and celebrate personal stories of courage and continue to work together toward greater diversity and inclusion that gives everyone the power to succeed.
David Selby is a San Diego consumer market leader, and LGBT+ Pride co-chair, for Bank of America.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: