At Progress we believe that supporting the LGBTQ+ community is something that goes beyond a calendar month. This June we once again want to take the opportunity to focus, reflect, and provide the space to learn about—and from—the community.
Progress is privileged to have multiple employee resource groups (ERGs), run by volunteers, who aim to offer support through awareness, learning, and meaningful change. I have had the honor to be one of the executive sponsors of Plus, the Progress LGBTQ+ group, since its inception.
Working with the amazing leaders of our LGBTQ+ ERG, Plus, I see firsthand how their commitment to elevating understanding is building bridges through honest dialogue. Plus ERG members and allies have made an immediate impact through outreach and programming, empowering our LGBTQ+ community to bring their whole-selves to work. Belonging is so essential at work, and we as leaders have a huge role to play in ensuring all our people feel welcome and are able to fully participate in our company communities.
What’s more, the great advocacy work of our Plus ERG has already begun to extend outside our walls to dispel misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community that have swirled for too long. These artificial barriers must fall. This Pride month, I encourage each of us to recommit to fostering inclusion and diversity in all things, not just in the workplace, but everywhere. If we want change, that change must first start with us.
Todor Totev and Mariyan Vasev are the two Progressers leading Plus.
Todor shared, “To be yourself at work sounds simple only when doing so is your default. Acceptance of queer people has come a long way, but we still have a way to go before we have true equality.”
Mariyan had to add, “On this Pride Month at Progress, our aim is to say the words that make the initials LGBTQ+. We want to focus on what lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer mean in stories and why it is significant to both celebrate and learn.”
This year, Pride month began a few weeks early for our Plus leaders and our Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer, Shirley Knowles. On May 17th, the three Progressers were invited to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (#IDAHOBIT) and Sofia Pride’s 15th anniversary at the British Ambassador’s Residence in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Pictured: Simeon Vassilev (GLAS Foundation), Shirley Knowles, Denitsa Lyubenova (Deystvie), Mariyan Vasev, and Todor Totev
The invitation came as a continuation of our efforts to support the Rainbow Hub reopening after its vandalization in 2021, and we were honored that Progress was represented at this event.
Throughout June, Plus has planned various activities, including team events, a trivia quiz, articles, and resources. Progress is also inviting two keynote speakers: Rabbi Max Chaiken and Ashley T Brundage. These keynotes allow Progressers the opportunity to learn from our guests’ experiences and the impact they have in their community.
On behalf of Progress, I want to wish you all a happy Pride Month, wherever you are!
As Executive Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Jennifer (Jenn) Ortiz leads all facets of a dynamic, high-producing global marketing organization. From corporate branding, analyst and public relations, to design, digital strategy, operations and events, Jenn’s vision is imprinted across every facet of the business.
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