As June draws to a close, and with it the Pride celebrations of the LGBTQ+ community around the world, it is a great time to consider how to carry this energy forward through the year. Celebrating Pride means celebrating love, diversity, and authenticity. It is celebrating the huge strides made in the LGBTQ+ community since the Stonewall uprising in 1969, a moment instrumental in building the modern gay-rights movement of today. It is also about bringing awareness to how we need to strengthen relationships with allies to fight prejudice and find acceptance.

With so much going on in 2020, a year where each successive month brings a challenging reality of staving off pandemic, natural disaster, and political tension – for the LGBTQ+ community, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Pride marches! While the celebrations may look a little different this year, we still have been able to show up to listen, learn, and support one another.

Proudly identifying as the “G” in LGBTQ+, I always try to find ways to live authentically in all facets of life. I am fortunate to work for Odessa, a company that celebrates diversity and inclusion across so many aspects of identity – it is refreshing to be part of a work community where we intentionally celebrate our differences and the value that brings to our work. As an Odessan, I feel heard, engaged, and valued for being exactly who I am.

Taking it beyond the daily routine into the broader equipment finance industry, I’m a member of the inaugural ELFA Equality Committee – a group of like-minded professionals pushing the boundaries to create an environment of equality, diversity, and inclusion. We’ve tackled things like changing the ELFA Code of Conduct language to include LGBTQ+ and other minority populations, launching a webinar series on diversity and inclusion, and creating a toolkit to help ELFA member companies successfully navigate meaningful allyship.

So as we wrap up the excitement of (virtual!) Pride celebrations, I’m focused on moving forward to help build allies. Allyship plays an incredibly important role in amplifying and uplifting the LGBTQ+ community. Linking arms with allies helps to counter stereotypes, fight prejudice and create a more equitable way of life for everyone. While there is no one ‘correct’ way to be an ally, the most important things is to keep an open mind and a desire to learn and listen.

Here are a few ways to practice allyship in your life:

  • Acknowledge members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a member of this community, being seen, recognized, and acknowledged for who you are is so important. Simply start a conversation! You’ll be surprised to learn you have more in common than not.
  • Be a champion for the community to make sure their voices are heard. Be intentional about creating space and amplifying LGBTQ+ voices. Practice empathy and remain humble in knowing that you can always do more.
  • Celebrate diversity across the whole ‘people spectrum’ including the LGBTQ+ community. Get excited about moments that matter, and help to create them in your workplace by actively showing your support.

Just remember that starting somewhere – is a start! Let’s chat, learn, and grow together!

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