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People celebrating pride

Why Commerce celebrates PRIDE month - and you should, too

By Derrick L. Nelson
Corporate Inclusion & Diversity Manager

A long-time Commerce team member was telling me recently about the positive changes he has witnessed at our bank over the past 20 years. Seeing the bank become more inclusive and embracing of the LGBTQ community, he explained, gave him the courage he needed to come out at work. He said he is happier now that he is able to bring his authentic self to work.

Team members like this gentleman are a big reason why Commerce celebrates PRIDE month and sponsors other LGBTQ activities each year. Research confirms what we’ve learned through experience: LGBTQ-friendly policies and a welcoming work environment help build staff loyalty.

In fact, many members of the LGBTQ community go out of their way to patronize inclusive businesses. More than 75 percent of LGBTQ adults and their friends and family say they would switch to brands known to be LGBTQ friendly.

Yes, inclusive approaches are also good for business, especially when you consider that the LGBTQ community represents more than $1 trillion in consumer buying power.

But how, you might wonder, can a business demonstrate LGBTQ support?

You might start by updating your nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. Here at Commerce, we have updated ours to make clear that we don’t discriminate on the basis of gender, gender identify, gender expression and sexual orientation.

You might also look for ways to educate your workforce on LGBTQ issues and join in community efforts to celebrate them.

For example, Commerce began the celebration of PRIDE month this year by creating a five-minute, awareness-building video that we posted it on our internal learning management system. The video provides simple tips on how to be more inclusive of our LGBTQ team members. It reminds us, for instance, to use the pronouns our team members prefer.

We believe it’s also important to show our support of the larger LGBTQ community outside our office. That’s why we are sponsoring the Commerce Bank Animal Adoption Plaza at the Kansas City PRIDE FEST, and we will be marching in the St. Louis PRIDE parade later in June. A special Commerce PRIDE t-shirt has been designed for our 100-plus volunteers to wear.

For ideas on other ways to get involved, I suggest you contact the Mid-America Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Based in Kansas City, the organization is all about creating business opportunities for LGBT and LGBT-friendly organizations, with the goal of creating a more inclusive and vibrant economy.

A final note of encouragement
If members of your team are reluctant to take a public stand on LGBTQ issues and feel uneasy about getting involved, take heart. They won’t be the first.

My advice is to encourage them to lean into their discomfort. THAT is where growth happens. I can tell you that has been the case here at Commerce.

Start doing the right thing and then keep doing it. The decisions you make will not always be popular, but you can take comfort in knowing they are the right decisions.

And then one day, out of the blue, a LGBTQ team member will tell you how good it feels to bring their authentic self to work. On that day, you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Happy PRIDE Month!

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