Vanguard Celebrates National Coming Out Day (VIDEO)
National Coming Out Day celebrates individuals who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) or as a straight (that is, non-LGBT) ally. At Vanguard, our crew will be wearing purple today to recognize the day—one of the many ways we show our support to make sure everyone feels respected, valued, and included. In the below video, some of our crew in OPEN (Out Professional Engagement Network) share their personal stories and encouragement for others:
Vanguard Women Break Down Investment Acumen Myths And Perceptions In this blog, we recap an event hosted by Vanguard’s crew resource group Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS) where they had a panel discussion with three female senior leaders in Investment Management to help breakdown investment acumen myths and misconceptions.
How LEAP Made Me Feel At Home
Read Michele’s story of finding her “family” in Vanguard’s employee resource group Leadership and Engagement for Asian Professionals.
Inclusion – It’s More Than a Policy Hear from crew about their thoughts on LGBTQ+ inclusion at Vanguard, and learn about the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index—and how we stacked up.
Pride month is celebrated every June to recognize and support the LGBT community in cities around the world. Vanguard’s Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN) works to create an inclusive environment for LGBT individuals and their allies, and plays an active role in Pride festivities. In recognition of Pride month, and to further our goal of creating an inclusive workplace, we share crew member Jason N.’s coming out story:
“I heard you are a poof,” Simon announced to everybody around me. I was 18 years old and in a group outside a lecture theatre. Simon and I were embarking on a friendship. Or at least I thought we were.
Even if you haven’t heard the word poof, you can easily guess that it isn’t flattering. I wasn’t entirely sure of my sexuality but I knew that I wasn’t straight. When Simon levelled his accusation, years of shame bubbled to the surface. I stood humiliated and exposed as everyone filed into the classroom. I was alone on the precipice of a lifetime of coming out.
I followed everyone into class and considered what I was going to do next. It was just a remark but it cut deep enough to make me shake. Boys call each other gay all the time. I could have just let it go. As the lecturer’s words washed over me, it was clear that I wanted to come out. I had to. Although I hadn’t yet acted on these feelings with anything other than shame, I knew it was riskier for me to not share my secret. I couldn’t remain hidden any longer. The burden had become too great. It was time. I told Simon that I was gay.
In coming out, I expected to lose Simon. I expected to lose all of my friends. I expected to lose my family. I firmly believed that I’d lose everyone close to me. I would no longer be a friend, a son, or a brother. I thought I would be alone.
I went home and cried.
The next day was a new beginning for me. When I found Simon at university, he said he wanted to talk. He told me that he went home and considered whether he could be gay. He told me that he just couldn’t conceive of it. But he also realized how unnatural it would be for me to ignore my own sexuality. He told me that nothing had changed between us. Little did he know, everything had changed for me! I was liberated. I was no longer in hiding. It was my first step on a path to self-acceptance.
I didn’t lose Simon. Coming out to him brought us closer together. But coming out isn’t just telling one friend in the hallways at university and then you’re done. It’s an ongoing experience. Your sexuality isn’t apparent in the same way that something like skin color is. While being gay is not a choice, coming out is a choice that you have to face every day. When your colleague assumes you have a wife. When a taxi driver asks if you have any kids. When you start a new job. When you move to a new house. When you get too friendly with your local grocer. When you check into a hotel with your partner. When you make a new friend.
Of course, you don’t always come out, but the assumptions and the choice to come out never goes away. The relevance isn’t immediately obvious but if I choose to come out to you, it’s because I’ve decided not to censor myself with you – I’ve decided to let you know who I am. It allows me talk as freely about my weekend or my family life as you can to me. It allows me to be me, and it allows us to have an authentic relationship.
So here goes – my name is Jason. I am a friend, a brother, a son, and a colleague. I’m also gay.
Jason N. is a Project Manager in IT in our Australian office and is on the committee of the Australian OPEN Crew Resource Group. He is an advocate for bringing your whole self to work. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, camping, and playing squash (with great enthusiasm but much less skill).
In my last blog, I discussed Vanguard’s high score on The HRC Corporate Equality Index survey. This score reflects our dedication to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies. But these endeavors extend beyond just creating an inclusive workplace – they can alleviate challenges in our personal lives as well.
“I specifically asked whether Vanguard provided same-sex domestic partner benefits before I joined in November 2011. My partner, Julie, and I had just gotten married in August and I had covered Julie under my benefits plan at my previous employer. At the time, I knew that Pennsylvania and the Federal government would not recognize our marriage. However, because I could cover Julie under the Vanguard health and welfare plans, I knew we would be okay.” – Kathleen R.
“When I came out to my parents, one of the things they were concerned with was the possibility of losing my job because I am gay. A few months later when I joined Vanguard, I could point to Vanguard’s non-discrimination policy to reassure them that members of the LGBT community were valued here. Years later, there was a time when my husband’s company was going through bankruptcy. We weren’t sure the company would survive and he could have been out of work. It was a comfort to know Vanguard offered domestic partner benefits, which we could take advantage of if necessary. Luckily, things worked out fine and it wasn’t necessary, but it was good to know we had it if we needed it.” – Mark O.
“I am extremely thankful for the ability to enroll my partner Jon in Vanguard’s medical plan coverage. In fact, he works for a health insurance company, and our plan is more comprehensive than the one his employer offers!” – Brian F.
As for me, I began my Vanguard career in the fall of 1999, and I had not come out to anyone during the recruiting stage or onboarding process. This was a purposeful decision. I wanted time to acclimate to my new job, and to learn more about Vanguard’s culture. After six months, I felt very comfortable with my team, and completely aligned to Vanguard’s mission. So I made the decision to come out to my leader and colleagues at work in early 2000. My manager and leadership team were fully supportive, and they treated me with the same level of respect, encouragement, and inclusiveness as everyone else. The way they treated me was a welcomed change, as my experience with leadership at another employer was hesitant and timid, at best.
I’m now in my 19th year at Vanguard, and in many respects, this is home for me. My experiences and professional connections at Vanguard have been similar to my personal relationships with my family – welcoming, nurturing, and supportive. At Vanguard I am empowered to focus on meaningful work and career development without the burdens of guardedness and discretion that many in the LGBTQ+ community often confront. For this I feel most blessed, and so very grateful, and I am inspired to help ensure that all crew members feel just as welcomed.
Consider learning more about the 2018 Corporate Equality Index – the report is free and available to anyone. (Vanguard is mentioned on pages 54, 89, and 98 of the report.)
If you’re looking for a role where you can be empowered to learn, grow, and make a difference, check out our opportunities at www.vanguardjobs.com.
Companies that attain the maximum 100 total points earn the coveted title, “Best Place To Work For LGBTQ Equality”.
The survey criteria is both robust and challenging, and HRC has continued to raise the bar for companies striving to attain the “Best Place…” accolade. Vanguard has participated in the survey for 5 consecutive years, and will continue to engage because it is the global standard for LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusion in the workplace. The survey is just one of the avenues Vanguard uses to benchmark our practices for continued improvement. We also participate in the survey because of you! When any potential crew member (Vanguard employee) learns about our score, they get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a crew member.
Recognition of workplace achievements always feels great, however the awards don’t provide insight into how we are personally impacted. So as I prepared to write this blog, I decided to pulse a few of my LGBTQ+ friends to share what was most relevant to each of them. I am humbled to admit that I did not foresee the large number of examples in their responses! So much so, that my blog evolved into blogs…with a Part I and a Part II. Here are a few of their thoughts:
“Part of the reason I joined Vanguard back in 1998 is that Vanguard had explicit protections for LGBT crew spelled out in their diversity statement even way back then. I was only out to few people at the bank I worked at previously, and there was no mention of LGBTQ+ in their diversity statement. That made me nervous about prospects for advancement if I came out, and that explicit statement was one of the reasons I chose to leave the bank and join Vanguard. Even so, coming out at work was a slow and deliberate process. But, once I got to know Vanguard and saw firsthand how “out” leaders were just as respected and successful, I became more comfortable being my true self.” – Mark O.
“There is so much that has made an impact on me regarding LGBTQ+ inclusion at Vanguard. For example, as an OPEN (Out Professional Engagement Network) Ally Workshop facilitator, I get to share my personal experience as an LGBT crew member with supportive allies. After each session I’m newly energized by the caliber of people that we call crew members. I always make several new connections through these workshops that have proven to be lasting and valuable! Speakers such as Ash Beckham, Amita Gupta, and JoDee Winterhoff have made a lasting impact by bringing LGBTQ+ issues outside the walls of Vanguard to life, and help crew members connect and relate to each other. Finally, the support from Senior Leadership – seeing our former CEO sign a letter voicing opposition to exclusive legislation and “walking the talk” when it comes to inclusion and support was comforting in a challenging time for the community.” – Laura T.
“Two events that I found particularly inspiring (albeit for different reasons) at Vanguard over the past couple of years were when Matthew Shepard’s mother was brought in for OPEN’s guest speaker event, and a Vanguard Day Of Caring community volunteer event that I attended in Philadelphia. I was impressed that Vanguard took the time to bring in such an impactful speaker and by the level of participation at the event – both by LGBT and ally crew. I found her presentation to be moving and inspiring. As a Philly resident, I had never been to the William Way Center, the LGBT community organization that provides service, recreational, educational, and cultural programming. The Day Of Caring event allowed me to understand their mission and feel as though I was making a contribution to the community. As with other volunteer events, I was really impressed by the numbers of both LGBT and ally crew that donated their time.” – Chris D.
As for me, one thing I think is really impressive is our Transgender Guide, which serves as an internal resource for open dialogue and further understanding of transgender issues in the workplace. The intended audience is a broad range of crew, including transgender crew members, their leaders and peers, Human Resources specialists, and client-facing crew. Topics include common terminology, overviews of gender identity and sexual orientation, guidance and tips for managers and allies, and thoughtful considerations for transgender crew members. How cool is that?
(Pictured are members of Vanguard’s 2017 OPEN Crew Resource Group Leadership team)
On August 27th the streets of uptown Charlotte were filled with color, excitement and thousands of people celebrating equality at the Charlotte Pride parade. And for the very first time members of one of Vanguard’s Crew Resource Groups “Out Professional Engagement Network” (OPEN) marched alongside their fellow Charlotteans. Over 60 Vanguard crew, family and friends decorated in red shirts and carrying rainbow flags and umbrellas paraded through uptown – a big moment for OPEN and for Vanguard.
As our group marched we were pleasantly surprised to hear the cheers and Vanguard-isms shouted in our direction. “We Love Vanguard!” and “Take care of my 401K!” just to name a few. Marching on Sunday gave us all a renewed sense of pride in what it means to be Vanguard crew members and more importantly, what it means to be crew members and community leaders that find value in celebrating diversity in its many forms.
Undoubtedly, our presence in Charlotte’s largest annual parade helped to reinforce the Vanguard brand. For investors and crew alike, our presence demonstrates our commitment as we strive to give our clients and crew the best chance for success.
“Individuals must be willing to be perpetual learners, become attentive listeners, be willing to legitimize open discussion, seek to understand each other and embrace differences in perspective, approaches and styles. It will only be through dialogue and respect for our differences that we will be able to find common ground.”
As Vanguard’s chief diversity officer from 2007 to 2010, Sharon Barnes worked tirelessly to foster an atmosphere where every crew member felt welcomed, valued, and empowered to reach his or her full potential. Vanguard has strived to continue her work to create a comfortable place for all crew – but there is still much to be done.
Vanguard’s internal network, OPEN (Out Professional Engagement Network) seeks to promote an inclusive environment for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender crew, and to empower straight allies so all crew feel good about bringing their whole selves to work. To accomplish this, OPEN provides resources, networking opportunities, educational materials, and information on community events. One such event was Philly PrideDay, which took place on June 18th, and included an LGBT parade, and a festival at Penn’s Landing. For the first time, members of OPEN marched in the parade, which saw approximately 20 crew members, family, and friends representing Vanguard. Zev Kramer, an Identify Access Management (IAM) Role Engineer, acted as captain for Vanguard’s first march and shares, “Vanguard has once again shown it truly values each and every crew member. Marching in the Philly Pride Parade was one of the proudest moments in my career as a Vanguard crew member.”
On Vanguard’s PA campus, OPEN offered materials with updates about their involvement in the community, how to become an OPEN Ally, and goals for 2018. These educational materials, combined with a raffle and photo opportunities, allowed crew to connect and learn together.
PA wasn’t the only Vanguard site to celebrate Pride Day – Arizona crew also attended the Phoenix Pride Festival, sponsored by local empowerment group, Phoenix Pride. This organization offers marches, rallies, education, and outreach events for the Phoenix LGBT community.
Pride month is celebrated every June to recognize and support the LGBT community in cities around the world. In addition to parades, Pride gatherings often include workshops, celebrations, and memorials to those lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. Vanguard plans to continue their dedication to welcoming and including LGBT individuals with even more events and activities in the future.
Sharon Barnes regrettably passed away in 2010. Her dedication to diversity efforts inspires our crew every day.