At home or at work — no matter the location, you want to feel like you belong, that you are important and valued. At CHG, these are what employee inclusion groups (EIGs) are all about. They advocate on your behalf, connect you with others who are like you, and celebrate the unique talents and qualities you bring to the table. That’s the purpose of CHG’s Pride Collective: to make sure members of the LGBTQIA+ community feel valued and included.
How being part of an inclusion group can inspire you
As president of CHG’s Pride Collective, Sarah Trescott’s number one goal is “building a community that is welcoming and safe for all of the LGBTQIA+ members of the CHG family.” She knows from experience that being open about your identity can sometimes be scary — mainly because you don’t know how people are going to react. Will you be treated differently?
Last year when Sarah was first asked to serve as president of CHG’s Pride Collective, she wasn’t exactly sure what an inclusion group even was. But now she has fully embraced the responsibility of being the voice of the community — both to the company's leadership and for LGBTQIA+ employees and allies.
With a focus on building a welcoming and safe environment, Sarah spearheads initiatives, directs monthly meetings, plans events, and reminds people who participate in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade in June to have fun and drink plenty of water.
A long-term commitment to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community
Before taking on her role, Sarah says she participated in some pretty intense discussions with CHG leadership teams. “I wanted to make sure that CHG was going to be a safe place but also that they weren't going to change their mind after a whole bunch of people outed themselves to be part of a group,” she says. “It had to be a long-term commitment.”
Looking back, she believes her side hustle as a sports referee was the perfect preparation for her new role. “I’m used to people being mad at me,” she says with a laugh. “And I can take a little bit of heat. I don’t mind being out there, raising my voice for the people who really do have to deal with circumstances that prevent them from being out yet at work. I want to make sure my own work community is a safe place for us to do that.”
Heat or no heat, Sarah says the fact that the Pride Collection exists is evidence that good things are happening at CHG.
Employee inclusion groups vs. employee network groups
The Pride Collective is part of CHG's broader diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative to create EIGs whenever and wherever they are needed. Currently, CHG also supports EIGs for African American employees, Hispanic and Latinx employees, and women in technology. These groups are different from traditional employee network groups, where the goal or motivation behind the group may be to simply create social opportunities for people who share common interests, such as travel, do-it-yourself projects, Star Wars, or reading (book club anyone?).
An EIG, by contrast, is for members of minority groups or communities that have traditionally been made to feel marginalized and ignored, and maybe even unwelcome. Operating as an inclusion group rather than a network group is important because it means more attention and support from corporate leadership.
In Sarah’s view, this has especially been the case at CHG. “They’ve done a fantastic job with supporting the LGBTQIA+ members of our corporate family,” she says. “Everything from travel vouchers — to help you get to places where you can get the care you need — to legal assistance and mental health support. All of that really helps our community a bunch.”
How employee inclusion groups level the playing field
A good example of these extra resources is the quarterly trainings and invited speakers the Pride Collection regularly hosts — events that Sarah says are just as often about navigating life as they are about work. “A lot of folks who get kicked out of their house because their family doesn't support them, they have a lot of challenges going on,” says Sarah. “Getting through college, just the basic career development that we all need to succeed in a professional environment.”
Sarah says the Pride Collective “levels the playing field” by offering resources for overcoming these types of challenges — something that might not be possible if the group was simply a network of like-minded people.
The Pride Collective’s definition of success
There are many ways the Pride Collective measures its success. For Sarah, the monthly meetings have undoubtedly been a highlight. “I’m really proud of the openness and vulnerability that people have shown,” she says, “and their willingness to be out and tell their stories."
In addition to the meetings, the Pride Collective routinely organizes service projects for group members and leads out for CHG at the annual Pride Parade in Salt Lake City. By participating in conferences, workshops, and community events, members of the Pride Collective aim to drive positive change not only within CHG but also in their local communities.
Sometimes, the most important thing is just being there
Still, the way Sarah sees it, the Pride Collective isn’t so much about big, organized events as much as it is about maintaining a presence so that people know they’re not alone in the workplace, that they have a place they can go to for help if they need it.
After a hate-motivated shooting, for example, members of the collective gathered on a phone call to talk about how they were feeling and share their concerns. “Truthfully, if you consider the social climate that so often surrounds us, just creating a safe place free from judgment, harassment, and the fear of losing your job is massive,” Sarah says.
“If we can continue to do that, I will feel like this group has been successful.”
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