The coronavirus pandemic changed Pride celebrations at Sage. As we planned to celebrate at home and online, we of course also saw June change again, as many of us took public and very personal stands against racism in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests. That is why we knew we had to pause, recalibrate, and ensure we used our platforms and our voice responsibly to celebrate all communities and show that we are stronger, together.
A different kind of Pride
The virtual nature of our Pride celebrations meant that they were truly open to all. To reflect this shift, all colleagues have had the opportunity to remotely take part in volunteering opportunities to support diversity and inclusion, and tune in to webinars on everything from the impact of Covid-19 on the LGBTQ+ community to the personal journeys of trans people.
We have also encouraged colleagues to share their photos and thoughts of how they are personally recognising Pride month and raising awareness of Global Pride 2020 - 24 hours of content reflecting and celebrating the beautiful diversity of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. To support this event, we created a special Pride 2020 GIF, featuring members of our Pride@Sage Colleague Success Network. This hard-working volunteer led network is the beating heat and authentic voice of LGBTQ+ at Sage; they are without question what makes Pride special at Sage.
Sharing a platform
In the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, we knew we needed to ensure that this year’s Pride was an opportunity to lift the voices of Black members of the LGBTQ+ community, who often feel alienated from both communities. We strongly believed this year’s events must be in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to fight against systemic racism.
Our immediate priority was to ensure our Pride@Sage Colleague Success Network worked appropriately, respectfully and took forward a truly inclusive conversation through their planned events. This included ensuring Black panellists or authentic insights and perspectives were part of planned webinars, or ensuring we made space for Black Lives Matters when it just had to be prioritised.
We have also championed incredible first-person testimony and personal stories from Black colleagues who wanted to share their story. Just this week, a colleague from our Sage North America, Keith King shared his story – “Being Black and gay in racist world”. Hard hitting, yes, absolutely vital – without question. So far, we have had around 70 powerful messages of support and solidarity shared from across Sage.
Looking ahead to the future
June, and let’s be honest 2020, has not been anything like we could have imagined. However, these fast-changing times have strengthened mine, and other senior leaders’ commitment to creating a Sage where everyone truly belongs. A big part of that is listening to our colleagues. That is why in response to Black Lives Matter protests we prioritised running Q&A sessions across the business, including regular ones with senior leaders. These sessions have created honest conversations we will now build on.
For our LGBTQ+ programme explicitly and following completion of Stonewall’s 2020 Workplace Equality Index, we are using that vital feedback and data to help us plan the best interventions going forwards. This includes, visible leadership support or engagement with our LGBTQ+ program, LGBTQ+ inclusivity throughout the colleague lifecycle and the introduction of a reverse mentoring pilot for leaders to educate, support and inspire them to drive forward LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
Debbie Wall leads the global programme of corporate philanthropy including diversity and inclusion delivered by Sage. Sage Foundation’s focus is ensuring young people, women and military veterans are work ready, have access to high quality education and are aware of the opportunities surrounding entrepreneurialism.