ESPN EQUAL, ESPN’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee resource group (ERG), today launched an Ally program patterned after several similar programs at other major companies.
What’s the ESPN Ally program?
At its core: it’s straight employees joining ESPN EQUAL to help foster a workplace at ESPN where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees are accepted, included and supported.
Over the past couple of weeks, colleagues at all levels of the company — executives, talent and employees from across ESPN — have sat for the camera to talk about the importance of the “Allies of EQUAL” program (video above).
For every employee seen in the video, many more raised their hand to participate.
Roughly three years ago, ESPN launched eight different ERGs, each focused on raising understanding and awareness amongst employees from a variety of perspectives: women, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, employees with disabilities, family and work/life balance, young professionals and LGBT.
At any given time on campus throughout the year, each of these ERGs stages events that ultimately serve to enhance the culture of our company. Sometimes it’s a guest speaker. Other times, it might be a celebration of an event like Cinco de Mayo.
Today, for ESPN EQUAL, it was a frank discussion by straight and LGBT ESPN colleagues with ESPN colleagues about the creation of the Ally program and what we hope to achieve with it.
The theme, in essence, was education and inclusion. I’ve been with ESPN for 32 years and consider myself fortunate to have been a part of many ground-breaking developments during my time. But being involved with this group as a straight ally has been one of the most rewarding professional and personal experiences I have ever had.
While each of the ERGs has a different focal point, they are united by a common theme: that having the ability to bring your “whole self” to work every day not only makes individuals better, it makes our company better.