Pride isn’t seasonal: How Zendesk supports its employees all year round

As Pride Month comes to an end, thousands of rainbows will silently blink out of existence – rainbow flags are swapped out in store fronts, and corporate logos and LinkedIn profiles will revert to their original state. This does not mean we stop celebrating those who identify with the LGBTIQ+ community. Instead, we should welcome July with a fresh reminder of the importance to honour and recognise everything the LGBTIQ+ community has fought for and achieved to be able to celebrate who they are free of violence and discrimination.

Pride month is also a great opportunity for organisations to re-assess where they are with their diversity policies and determine what more they can do to keep progressing with them. The LGBTIQ+ community has no doubt made enormous strides in the last several decades around inclusion, equity, and rights both in and out of the workplace. However, according to research, only 32% of LGBTIQ+ respondents were out to all of their colleagues, even though 74% agreed that it was important to do so.

This shows that there is still much to do to support our peers and colleagues who identify with the community. And in the talent short market that we currently work in, can organisations really afford not to nurture and create opportunities to attract and support more diverse workers into their teams?

Love Sparks Action: How Zendesk supports its LGBTIQ+ employees all year long

Embracing the 2022 theme Love Sparks Action, Zendesk developed and implemented a series of activities and initiatives to educate their employees and provide benefits to support those that identify with the community. We sat down with Denise Pereira, Technical Sourcer & Recruiter @ Zendesk, to walk us through these initiatives.

To get started, what does ‘diversity’ mean to you?

Diversity to me means that every individual, irrespective of background, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation is unique. No one person will ever have the exact same experience, wins, challenges in the exact same way and to acknowledge and celebrate those differences means I am able to embrace the true meaning of diversity.

Could you share with us the activities / initiatives implemented by Zendesk this Pride month?

Last June we hosted “Love Sparks Justice” celebrations leading up to World Pride. This year, we continued embracing that spirit while also recognizing the need for continued progress across the globe. It’s time for Love Sparks Action.

This past year we’ve seen great wins for the LGBTIQ+ community, including:

  • The legalization of same-sex marriage in Switzerland and Chile
  • Tokyo metropolitan government will recognize same-sex partnerships from November
  • The ban of conversion therapy in New Zealand and France
  • The addition of a non-binary gender option on U.S. passports and the ending of the ban on transgender servicemembers in the U.S. military

As we celebrate these wins, we must acknowledge there’s still work to be done. This past year brought an increase of attacks on LGBTIQ+ rights across the world, threatening the progress that our community has made. So, we wanted to inspire our colleagues to join us in our Love Sparks Action events and stand up for equality, giving visibility to the LGBTIQ+ community and allies, at Zendesk and beyond.

Our initiatives included educational workshops on breaking the binary, learning about Pride History and LGBTIQ+ rights in Asia Pacific, hosting an internal ‘Being Queer around the world’ panel discussion featuring some of our Zendesk employees who opened and shared their personal stories, support session with a specialist health therapist on healing and developing resilience in collaboration with one of our external partners ModernHealth, our Zendesk GDEI team partnered with Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) to sponsor their 2022 Pride Summit which included content, networking, and recruiting opportunities over five days and a Zendesk Inclusive Benefits session to educate our employees on our inclusive benefit policies and resources available.

Out of all these initiatives, which do you personally feel is most impactful and why?

Our theme for this year is ‘Love Sparks Action’ recognizing the need for continued progress across the world. We wanted to focus on some major milestones/wins but not forgetting we still have work to do. It was also important for us to have a global approach to recognise that country by country laws and legislation for the LGBTIQ+ community are different, and why celebrating Pride is so important to continue spreading awareness.

As we all know, pride isn’t seasonal. How does Zendesk support its LGBTIQ+ employees and spark action all year long?
  • Pride EC Community: Our Global Pride Employee Community ensures that all LGBTIQ+ employees are valued, seen, and supported. Their mission is to invite awareness and inspire their co-workers to create space for the Zendesk LGBTIQ+ community. Pride actively promotes diversity in events, and creates partner events, company policy initiatives, and educational opportunities.
  • Inclusive LGBTIQ+ Partnerships: Our GDEI Team have invested in partnering with Lesbians Who Tech and Allies and also OutLeadership, providing opportunities for mentorship and networking.
  • Zendesk Inclusive Benefits: Our philosophy is that families are unique and diverse, and we want to recognize the changing roles parents play in the family unit, no matter how your family is structured. We have a global parental leave program that gives equal paid leave to both birthing and non-birthing parents. We want to provide benefits that are inclusive to all our employees regardless of gender or sexual orientation, that’s why we partner with Carrot Family Forming & Fertility who cover same sex IUI, IVF and ICSI treatment based on local laws.
  • Learning Pathways To Educate: At Zendesk it’s an important part of our onboarding that employees have access to learning pathways to educate them on Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation and Intersectionality
What impact does this have for the talent team? Do you see any flow-on impacts from these activities for your recruitment campaigns?

For our overall DEI strategy and action plan we have policies in place that promote diversity and inclusivity and following those up with activities that realize those policies ensures that we are walking the talk. This tells candidates that our commitment to a workplace prioritizes the individual is entrenched and comprehensive.

At its heart, Pride Month is all about radical change for a more equitable and just world. So, as you re-assess your DEI practices in your organisation, remember that you can always do more. From building better inclusion practices within your company, reviewing current hiring processes, to being an ally to your mates, let’s all work towards a better, more diverse, and inclusive world of work.

Source: Diversity Council Australia (Brown, C., O’Leary, J., Trau, R., Legg, A.) Out At Work: From Prejudice to Pride, Sydney, Diversity Council Australia, 2018.

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