45 years ago, the Stonewall Riots of 1969 marked a turning point in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community’s fight for equality. On its one-year anniversary in June of 1970, New York’s "Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day" march was held attracting thousands of supporters as it weaved through the streets of one of America’s most prominent cities.
By 1978, San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker had created what would become the international symbol for LGBT equality – the rainbow – and by the early 90s this became a symbol not only for gay pride, but for the entire LGBT community. In June of 2000, United States President Bill Clinton deemed the month of June Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. In 2003, Turkey became the first Muslim-majority country in which a Pride event was held. Each year since 2009, United States President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation officially declaring June LGBT Pride Month in the United States. An excerpt from this year’s proclamation reads:
“As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect – our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains…..I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”
- Presidential Proclamation -- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, 2014
Due to the passion and courage of millions, immense progress has been made since this key turning point in 1969 to honor and ensure equality for the LGBT community. It is reassuring to see how far we’ve come in so many parts of the world, highlighted this month by the millions of people who will come together in a variety of celebrations – small and large – to celebrate LGBT Pride Month.
Honoring LGBT Equality at Symantec
At Symantec, we are proud to be recognized as a leader in LGBT diversity. Equality for the LGBT community is something we’ve supported historically and have spent years engraining in our values and benefits:
- Symantec has scored 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index - the US’s national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and practices related to LGBT equality - for the last six consecutive years.
- We offer a leading benefits package, including all of the health benefits around equality, many of which are often not included in corporate benefits programs.
- Additionally, Symantec’s LGBTA (the A represents straight Allies) employee resource group - SymPride - is one of our most active resource groups. This community is not only active inside Symantec, but also provides ongoing community support to local pride events and initiatives.
Additionally, Symantec recently joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as a national corporate partner at the Bronze level. The HRC partners with organizations that have a proven record of support for gay and lesbian employees and the LGBT community. To participate at this level, HRC requires that companies complete their Corporate Equality Index survey and score an 85% or above (as mentioned before, we’ve scored 100% on the index for six consecutive years).
The partnership includes many opportunities to publicize our commitment to LGBT equality as well as meet and network with like-minded individuals, companies, celebrities, politicians and media, all with the same goal – to increase equality for the LGBT community. We have also signed on as a member of HRC’s Business Coalition, which means Symantec supports the United States Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). ENDA is legislation proposed in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with at least 15 employees.
Additionally, we recently joined top companies in signing an amicus brief to be filed in marriage equality cases currently pending in Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. The brief will advise the court on the burden to employers resulting from the inability of an employee to marry his or her same-sex spouse (or for the marriage to be recognized) in these states. For example, burdens to employers may include:
- Lack of certainty and business uniformity;
- Recruiting/retention challenges;
- Corporate administrative and financial burdens; and
- Requiring employers to uphold and affirm discrimination that is injurious to their corporate missions.
At Symantec, we define diversity as all of the differences that make each of us unique individuals, and will not stop at developing new and innovative ways to foster an open and inclusive environment for our LGBT employees, and the wider global LGBT community. Please join us in celebrating this month and honoring all within and outside our organization who stand strongly for equality.
Antoine Andrews is Symantec’s Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion.