A Different Kind of Pride Month in 2020

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How did HSBC Commercial Banking celebrate LGBTQ+ pride during the coronavirus pandemic? An HSBC employee reflects on their experience.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

This LGBTQ+ pride month has been unlike any before it in recent memory – due to the coronavirus pandemic, citywide pride parades went virtual and socially distanced.

HSBC USA is a proud supporter of LGBTQ+ equality, earning a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for many years running. In 2019, HSBC USA signed a “friend of the court” brief in support of civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ people – earlier this June, this effort materialized when the Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ+ employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Marc Maietta, Vice President in the Commercial Banking Chief Control Office and a Co-Chair of the HBSC USA Pride employee group, reflects on the 2020 LGBTQ+ pride month.

Can you explain your role in the HSBC Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG)?

I just started my third year serving on the NYC chapter of the HSBC Pride ERG! I first started as the membership coordinator and recently assumed the role of Pride Co-Chair this March.

Since moving into the co-chair role, most of my focus has been on developing a strategy to further the progress that we have made as an ERG. Two specific focal points we are looking to develop are related to advocacy and allyship. We have done a lot of valuable work as an ERG in raising awareness for LGBTQ+ inclusion for HSBC employees. By broadening the scope of our programming, we can be more intersectional in our work to educate ourselves and our colleagues.

Additionally, in 2020 we plan to launch the US ALLY program which will be an internal resource for our colleagues to deepen their understanding on the fundamentals of allyship, and the value that this support can have on the community.

Pride month, typically June, is different this year from previous years, for many reasons. What does pride mean to you in the current circumstances? Are you finding other ways to celebrate?

For me, pride has always meant a celebration of acceptance of who you are as an individual. It means acceptance by society, acceptance by your community, but most importantly acceptance of myself without any preface. Everyone has a backstory as far as what makes them their own person, but during pride you have an opportunity to celebrate something that is inherent in you and that joins you with a broader community. This year, as a consequence of our current circumstances, pride feels much more personal – we’re still celebrating as a community, but this time from the safety of our own homes.

Specifically looking at significant milestones such as the passing of marriage equality or the recent LGBTQ Anti-Employment Discrimination, I am truly reminded that the world we are living in is far different, even from when I was younger.

Pride has always reminded me of how much the world has changed. It shows that through focused effort and compassion, you can change people's minds to develop a greater understanding of those that may be different from them.

Has your perception of pride shifted due to current events? If so, how?

Over the past few months I’ve gained a deeper understanding that there is so much more work to be done to help improve the inequities in our society. This expands beyond the LGBTQ+ community, specifically, in light of the current events surrounding racial inequality in the US. There are inherent inequities that exist in society that still need to be addressed. So in that context, pride has taken on an additional meaning to include a component of responsibility, to ensure I am doing my part as an individual to help eliminate those disparities and has become a call to action for me to address these issues head-on.

How is HSBC US celebrating pride this year?

For HSBC US, pride is dramatically different this year from prior years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the start of the year, we were extremely excited about building on the amazing experience that we had through our participation in World Pride in 2019. At first, it was extremely difficult to digest that this year would be different than previous celebrations because of the circumstances. But after the initial disappointment, we quickly realized this could be an opportunity to get creative. For example, given the virtual capacity that we have through video call platforms we could broaden the participation outside the NYC region.

From that, we came up with the theme of "HSBC Pride Inside" and assembled a calendar of virtual events that could help us celebrate pride in this current virtual environment. We brainstormed some exciting events such as a virtual workout class and conversations about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

One of the high points of the pride season is the annual NYC Pride March. It’s an opportunity for all HSBC employees to participate and celebrate what pride means to them. Last year was particularly exciting as HSBC signed the amicus curiae ‘Friend of the Court’ brief submitted to the Supreme Court, supporting protection from discrimination for LGBTQ+ employees. Although the parade could not happen in person this year, we still wanted to create the same opportunity in a digital way, through a ‘virtual parade’. We asked employees to submit a picture, a quote, a video, whatever they have to demonstrate what pride means to them, and received so many incredible, heartfelt responses

What is your hope for future pride celebrations?

I feel I am obligated to expand on these principles to include equity as a focal point for the future. Diversity celebrates people’s differences, inclusion ensures there is a culture welcoming these differences, and a focus on equity ensures fair treatment of others.

My hope is that next year we can continue to build on the lessons learned through this 2020 experience, and continue to create an even more inclusive pride that continues to welcome and champion diversity. I think that progress on advancing diversity and inclusion have always been the foundation and purpose of pride.

Although we had to scale back in a bit of the fanfare that usually takes place during pride this year, it actually led to an enriched vision of how pride evolve and continue to be a catalyst for change.

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