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Pride Month 2021

LiveArea is Proud to Celebrate Pride Month

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June is Pride Month, and we at LiveArea are proud to mark these 30 days. This celebration not only observes and supports the right to equality everyone deserves, but it honors LGBTQIA+ contributions to business, the arts, engineering and science, and every facet of society. We believe an inclusive culture creates a competitive advantage for LiveArea, offering greater access to creativity and innovation, and more vibrant, intellectually diverse talent. Different points of view matter when it comes to solving client problems. But what matters most is respecting our diverse group of talented employees.

In honor of Pride Month, we talked with some of our LiveArea colleagues in the LGBTQIA+ community for their perspective on Pride and why being their authentic selves matters so much. We talked with Liz Alvarado, Visual Designer; Paul Buranosky, Vice President of Marketing and Communications; Chris Herljevich, Merchandising, LiveArea EMEA; and Alberto Lubrano, Director of Delivery Management.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Paul: My relationship with Pride has evolved over the years. Today it is many things to me. It is an opportunity to publicly proclaim who I am and to be a catalyst for social change. It is a celebration of acceptance. It is a time to remember those who have spoken up and fought for the legal rights we enjoy today. It is a time to embrace diversity and fun and celebrate those that we might not fully understand.

I live every day of my life with pride, and I am fortunate. I was taught to be proud from a very young age by my beautiful parents. In recent years there’s quite a bit of talk about the significance of Pride with some arguing it has morphed into a marketing opportunity for corporate brands rather than a meaningful event. I don’t subscribe to this point of view. I grew up at a time when mentioning someone is gay was done in a whisper. Sure, Elton John and Freddie Mercury were popular on the radio, but the speculation about their personal lives was something usually done with a snicker. Pride celebrations have helped changed the way LGBTQIA+ people are perceived, understood, and respected.

Liz: Pride month is a commemoration of life, love, and acceptance. It’s a time to stop and remember, “the shot glass that was heard around the world.” This is a reference to what happened on June 28th, 1969, when police officers from New York City’s Public Morals Division raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village. Raids like this were common, but this time, the patrons fought back. A shot glass was thrown into a mirror by Marsha P. Johnson who yelled, “I got my civil rights!” Because of those who paved the way, we can now gather, be proud and be our true selves without discrimination. Pride Month gives us a microphone where we can educate, teach about tolerance, pride history, and how damaging homophobia was and still can be.

Alberto: I think of Pride as a time of love and acceptance. We get to express our acceptance and respect for all individuals and celebrate who they are without limitations. It’s a time for making deep friendships and strengthening family ties. It’s a chance to appreciate and respect all the struggles and efforts to support our community for years and to offer continued support.

Chris: Pride Month is a reminder to be comfortable with who I am, but most importantly, it’s a time for us to remember the people and moments in history like Stonewall that have enabled us to be where we are in terms of acceptance for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Talk about being your authentic self at work. Why does it matter?

Paul: Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to work for companies that have accepted me for who I am on all levels. This has been so important to me as I’ve evolved personally and professionally. When we are our authentic selves, we can be more effective in our business relationships and in the work we accomplish. Honesty and openness empower and inspire great confidence. Everyone on our Marketing and Communications team in LiveArea, for instance, reveals their authentic selves in our work together each day. We learn from each other, help each other grow, and very often bring joy to each other’s days. So, yes, it matters — a lot.

Alberto: Being authentic means I spend less time and effort trying to hide who I am or pretend to be someone else. Furthermore, expending energy in this negative way distracts from our ability to work and form connections with coworkers and clients. If we are our authentic selves, we permit others to do so as well. Work can be difficult enough without the added stresses of secrecy. As my authentic self, I can do a better job, think more critically, and help others who may be having a rough day.

What makes you proud of the LGBTQIA+ Community?

Liz: I am proud of the courage, forward-thinking, and boldness of the LGBTQIA+ community. This community stands strong, fighting inequalities, sexualism, and pressures that exist in society. To the LGBTQIA+ community — keep coming out, being proud, and celebrating together. Pride celebrations are grand PR campaigns that say, “We are here, we are love, we are equal.”

Chris: I am proud to see people, especially the younger generations being more open, accepting, and aware of the LGBTQIA+ community even if they are not directly part of it. There is still a distance to go but seeing this positive change is nice — especially for kids growing up today. It seems a little easier to be who you are, which wasn’t the case when I was younger.

LGBTQIA+ rights in the workplace illustrate the intersection of business and social issues. What was your “aha!” moment when you realized that companies are taking these rights seriously?

Paul: There were a few moments for me. When I brought my husband to an event that included spouses. When my marriage was accepted for benefits packages. When a CEO addressed a holiday card to me and my husband. Sometimes moments of progress are big and sometimes it’s a quiet thing.

Alberto: During pride month of 2017 there were a lot of events and discussions in memory of the 2016 Pride month tragedy at Club Pulse in Orlando, where 49 people were slain and 53 were injured in a mass shooting. I saw a lot of media and businesses showing different levels of discussions and support for LGBTQIA+ matters. Seeing different responses at my workplace and the workplaces of friends and family brought to light how much more satisfied and happy employees are when they feel socially supported. Furthermore, I found myself wanting to do business with places that showed clear support for LGBTQIA+ matters or other social matters. Because of all this visibility and media, I was glad employers saw the need to speak up and make these social matters a more active discussion to keep employees engaged and feeling supported.

What can companies do to ensure that members of the LGTBQIA+ community feel heard and accepted?

Chris: Companies should continue getting behind initiatives, discussions, and internal representation so people who may not be as comfortable with being themselves in a work environment can see the company has a culture of inclusivity. Also, companies can be more prepared to call out and take a stance when anti-LGBTQIA+ discrimination or harassment happens in the workplace.

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