Celebrate Pride Month.
First things first – what’s Pride Month? Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. Nowadays, celebrations include parades, picnics, parties, workshops and more – unifying millions of participants around the world for a month of solidarity, recognizing the worldwide impact that LGBTQIA+ individuals have had and continue to have, as well as, reflecting on those impacted by hate crimes, suicide, or HIV/AIDS
In addition to raising the Pride flag this month, Taco Bell Corp.’s Live Más Pride BERG is collaborating in the OC Pride Festival and Parade on Saturday, June 24 along with our sister brand The Habit Burger Grill! Throughout this month, we will also be sharing information and ways to honor this month across our organization as well as sharing our very own Taco Bell team stories.
However, the celebration and work doesn’t stop there. Taco Bell allies are living the Pride Month celebration all year long through educating, activating and advocating. They strive to encourage inclusive perspectives, act as a proponent for Taco Bell’s LGBTQIA+ population, and allies and help serve as a cultural partner to amplify our community through education and open communication.
To honor this month and lead with action-oriented allyship, we’re amplifying the voices of those in the LBGTQIA+ community who are growing their careers at Taco Bell.
Ari G. (they/them) - Culture Strategy Manager
“In 2021, I embraced a new stage in my gender journey. I realized that I was non-binary. I knew the biggest barrier to my happiness was a mismatch between the person I was inside and the body I had.”
During this time, Ari was working at an agency supporting many of their Pride campaigns but felt like it was time for a change. “I knew if I was going to do the work to be my best self, it was important to me that the organization shared would support me.”
Suddenly, it felt like fate took over as Taco Bell approached Ari with an opportunity to join the company as a cultural strategist at the corporate headquarters, and the role excited them. Here’s why:
- The role felt right, and Ari was ready to take it on.
- Taco Bell’s purpose and initiatives aligned with their values.
- Kaley C., the recruiter, assured them that their identity was celebrated at Taco Bell and they would have access to inclusive healthcare.
- On top of that, that year, Yum! Brands and Taco Bell was rated by the HRC as a Best Place to Work for the LGBTQIA+ community.
Because of all this, Ari took the opportunity with The Bell. Since then, Ari has grown through the opportunities Taco Bell provides and was able to match the person they were inside with the outside through their long-awaited transition surgery.
So, what does Ari’s role entail? As the Cultural Strategy Manager on the Brand Marketing team, they’ve created, supported and led many Equity, Inclusion & Belonging efforts surrounding campaigns with the focus on building a platform for underrepresented communities in an authentic way, hoping to educate and encourage others to join in on the conversation.
“My commitment to Equity, Inclusion and Belonging has informed my career. I am in the rare position where it’s a key component of my job. I don’t just want to be seen as an expert in this work, I want to help the organization learn how to be experts in this work too.”
While a strong cultural understanding is needed to create a genuine connection with audiences externally, it is as important for those organizations to uphold these standards internally. So, given the current state of the workforce, how do we continue to address issues of access in the workplace? For Ari, it’s a twofold approach:
“It is important to ensure employees have their basic needs met such as having their identity respected and recognized at the organization. At the same time, having underrepresented communities reflected at the leadership level is equally needed as these two work symbiotically. When you have a group of leaders that are from underrepresented backgrounds, they will naturally help nurture and cultivate a more inclusive environment that attracts unrepresented people who feel the organization supports them.”
Enter Pride Month: A great way to celebrate with the community in and out of the workplace.
“Pride Month feels like a time where I can be as loud and unapologetic as I want to be because I am celebrating with my community,” said Ari. “One of my favorite events during Pride is a picnic with hundreds of lesbians hanging out. What makes it so special is seeing so many lesbian and non-binary people in one place. The large queer friend groups and families all gathered to be proud and celebrate is what I love.”
And of course, an even better time to get involved and show support!
“It’s easy to think of Pride as a celebratory time, but we need tangible action and support from our allies. A good way to include yourself is to participate in support groups and organizations looking to make the world a more inclusive place. Correct someone’s pronouns even when they’re not in the room. Volunteer to clean up at Pride parades or be an advocate to ensure physical and psychological safety. There are so many ways that you can get involved, big or small and you don’t have to wait for Pride to end to start!”
Ari hopes to lead by example in cultivating a safe space for individuals of all backgrounds anywhere they go. “As a non-binary person, having to blaze a trail in a very binary world takes a lot of courage. I hope people can see that being who they are is an act of bravery. I hope that if it’s not for yourself, do it for the next person who may feel a little safer being themselves because of you.”
Pronouns affirm identities and create a workplace culture where everyone is accepted. Feel free to learn more here: https://pronouns.org/