June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community and to continue the fight for equality!
While the voices of LGBTQ+ folks are important, allies are critical to making workplaces a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment.
We spoke to two self-identified allies who are part of Snappy’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group on how to be a better ally for Pride Month and beyond. Check out what they had to say about what it takes to be a better ally.
Tell us a little about yourself!
Jennifer Newell: I am an Ohio native (Go Buckeyes!) where I was born and raised - and stayed for 21 years! After graduating college, I bought a one-way ticket to NYC and landed my first big girl job with Snappy as the Executive Assistant to the CEO. Since then, I've lived in Chicago and, most recently, Hollywood, CA!
My first position change at Snappy was from Executive Assistant, working closely with our CEO, to Customer Happiness Manager, working virtually each day with our amazing Customer Success Team. With my most recent position change, I have joined the People Team as Talent Acquisition Partner. I absolutely love seeing our family grow; getting excited all over again each time we have a new Snapper join our team is something that never gets old.
In a virtual world, it's become so important to feel appreciated and balanced. During the weekends, I love to head to Runyon Canyon with my Corgi / Australian Shepherd mix pup and frequent the bubble tea store down the block from me. HUGE fan of sweets, and I am always looking to find the next best dessert around LA!
Nora Kosumi: I'm originally from Kosovo and came to the US at the age of 19. I lived in Michigan for 20 years, but my family and I moved to Florida last year to get the missing ingredient (vitamin D). I love visiting beaches, exploring islands, and spending time with the family while traveling or at home.
I worked in the Gaming Industry for ten years, so now I get to service them through Snappy, offering simple solutions for their day-to-day issues and logistics while rewarding their casino guests and team members.
What has been your experience being an LGBTQ+ ally at Snappy? Why is it important to you?
Jenni: As the 19th Snapper to join the fam, there were so many wonderful ideas from each of our employees - big, small, colorful, edible, you name it! As our family grew and we scaled our team, more amazing feedback and ideas were shared, and lots of them took form! Snappy recently hired our fabulous DE&I Manager, who has spearheaded a number of initiatives that have been a dream of Snappy's from very early on.
We have so many plans from many engaged Snappers, and the sky is the limit. Seeing these dreams come to life is exciting, fulfilling, and important to me because it means each employee can participate in something they are passionate about. Our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (Snappy Prism) is a shining example of this; a biweekly space to share and discuss our Pride, ask questions, gain insights, and plan Snappy's activities as a group! This group and these meetings mean so much to me and are typically the highlight of my week.
Nora: I think Snappy is very open and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community, and it's been such a joy to be a part of it and support it in any way that I can as an ally. I am also a part of the PRISM ERG group, where we identify areas of improvement, find ways to be more inclusive, come up with fun events for the entire Snappy Team (in-person and remote), and educate one another and our team as a whole. To get the best of employees, you want them to be nothing but themselves. That's why it's crucial to create an inclusive culture and allow people to thrive doing what they do best.
What’s your advice or tips on how to be a more meaningful LGBTQ+ ally at work, especially in tech?
Jenni: With mostly only seeing each other over Zoom, it's harder to tell how our coworkers are feeling and just how much they are internalizing/dealing with. Like a physical office, we have to be aware and pay attention to what happens around us. This means listening closely and following up with someone if you feel they need support. In tech, with virtual jobs that keep employees busy with not much physical connection, it may be harder to slow down and truly put yourself in someone's shoes. Not being face to face with someone doesn't mean you can't go the extra mile and make someone's day simply by listening!
Nora: One of my favorite quotes is: "If two of us are the same, one of us is not necessary." This quote perfectly describes why I think diversity is so essential in a workplace, be that different gender, race, sexual orientation, and more. Each of us has unique qualities and experiences that can help a team, company, and clients get the best solutions for their needs.
As for "how to be a more meaningful LGBTQ+ ally at work," show compassion; listen; don't be afraid to ask questions, but do so in a respectful way; engage, support, participate, and, above all, put yourself in their shoes. The LQBTQ+ community has suffered so much for way too long. It's time they are treated with the same love and respect they deserve. We are all humans, start and stop there.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Jenni: Pride Month means learning more about the LGBTQ+ community, stepping out of your comfort zone, and asking questions to educate yourself better! It is also a month for those in the LGBTQ+ community to take the spotlight, share their experiences, and feel appreciated for being the amazing humans they are. Visibility is so important. Feeling SEEN is something every person should have - this, to me, is a significant theme throughout Pride Month. Thinking of creative ways to express this, exploring and being curious about what it means to belong to the LGBTQ+ community (even if you are simply an ally), and involving myself in things normally outside my comfort zone are all meaningful things I look forward to each year.
Nora: I see pride month as a time to celebrate, support, and reach out to your friends and LGBTQ+ community to solidarize with them. It's a reminder to be kinder, inclusive, open, and loving.
How do you plan to celebrate Pride Month this year?
Jenni: I moved to California during the fall of last year, so this will be my first summer in Hollywood. There are a few parades/art festivals I have heard about from a few neighbors and my boyfriend's coworkers. Most of them are taking place in West Hollywood, which is within walking distance – hopefully, this year will be my first parade participation! I am also looking forward to the online activities Snappy has set up. We have Misty Venn revisiting us to host Drag Queen Bingo! The team is always looking for speakers and online events/educational opportunities for LGBTQ+ topics, and I am so excited to see what they've whipped up!
Nora: Last year, I had the pleasure of running into the Pride Parade in the capital of Kosovo, Prishtina, while I got lost searching for the apartment of my cousin that I hadn't seen in years. Different organizations worldwide participated in the parade, handing out masks, bubbles, flags, and more. I was there with my daughter, which made it really special, and I got to see many friends and family, which warmed my heart. This year I will be traveling again, and I intend to participate in the parade to show my support in any way that I can, locally and globally.
What do you wish people/society would get out of Pride Month?
Jenni: Empowerment! Pride Month is wonderful for speaking up about mental health in the LGBTQ+ community, and I think this is not spoken about enough throughout the rest of the year. Taking the time to learn and understand things you may not already know so that you can empower someone in ways you may not have known existed is a fantastic way to learn about yourself and your peers. Empowering someone does not always mean being vocal. You can empower and appreciate someone through your actions too! Being creative with this in a virtual world is more challenging, but simply participating/engaging with LGBTQ+ topics you may be unfamiliar with is a great way to start.
Nora: I wish people would take the time to listen, support, and offer ways to help members of the LGBTQ+ community. I also hope they take that support home to support the community as a family and make it a space where someone can come out and be themselves without being afraid of facing any negative consequences.
For more information on how Snappy is celebrating Pride Month, check out our Pride Summer Collection celebrating Pride and all things summer and this month's Rising Voices Collection uplifting LGBTQ+ businesses.