As part of our effort to celebrate diversity during Pride Month, Cushman & Wakefield of Florida asked members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community to share their experiences and tell us why Pride Month is important to them.
Read their responses below.
Senior Graphic Designer, Boca Raton
Why is Pride Month important to you?As a Proud member of the LGBTQ community, it’s important to me that others are educated about pride, them meaning behind it and why it’s important to our community’s culture.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? I think this goes beyond LGBTQ, and falls in many categories such as Women’s rights, Black and Latino culture, and so much more. Diversity in the workplace brings opportunity for growth and a better understanding of people in general. You will get a lot more understanding of people when you actually get to know them rather than hearing about them.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies? First, education of employees. Posting a rainbow flag without educating people on what it represents only leaves it up to interpretation. It’s good for others who may be still “in the closet” to see a company embrace diversity.
How did you self-identify as LGBTQ+ at work? I am open about who I am at work. I am mindful of others, but I do have photos of my husband on my desk. When I talk about my life, I don’t mask who I am.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? Diversity in general is important to me because having different ideas drives better, more well-rounded results for our teams and our clients.
Diversity of background, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and age contributes to the variety of solutions we can provide and makes us a stronger company and community, and makes me a better-informed ally. Our differences are valuable and recognized by C&W, which makes me proud to work here.
Why is Pride Month important to you?
I think diversity is extremely important, especially in the business world. Having different ideas and perspectives gives us more creative solutions to problems. Imagine how stale business would be if everyone was exactly the same? Diversity drives innovation.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues?
By treating them as you would anyone else. No matter what our preferences, our race, or gender…any of it…we’re all human beings.
Why is Pride Month important to you? I started my work career in 1976. The fact that I was a gay man was something I had to keep a secret at work for fear of discrimination, rejection and loss of my job. There were no legal protections in Tampa at that time if you were gay (and still aren’t in many parts of Florida).
The embracing of diversity by the business community throughout the country has been a big factor in making gains for the LGBTQ+ community. The support of fair-minded elected leaders with the business community’s backing has changed laws in many states and hundreds of cities and counties throughout the country that now provide protections in housing and employment that allow us to lead our lives out and proud. Young people today assume these rights have always been around but having lived through decades of changes I know that this was a hard-fought battle that is still not complete with more than 30 states still allowing discrimination for LGBTQ+ citizens.
Cushman & Wakefield has been a leader on diversity and equality and I am proud to be part of the C&W team and proud to be able to be myself. Pride Month is a special time for me to celebrate our diversity and reflect on the equality gains that have been made over the past years but to also remember that we’ve still got more to do in our country so that the entire LGBTQ+ community can feel proud.
Analyst, Research – Tampa
Why is Pride Month important to you? For me, June is a time to reflect on how far we’ve come but also have far we have to go in terms of LGBTQ+ rights. For example, there are still a lot of states that you can be fired just for being gay or transgender. It something that people in the community have to actively think about when interacting at work or looking for employment.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? Having colleagues with different backgrounds, life experiences, cultures, etc. creates a more inclusive environment for everyone.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues? Starting up the UNITY group was a great step. Letting people know that they are not alone. Similar to WIN, it’s great to have a space with other people in the company that have shared experiences and can relate to specific issues that the LGBTQ+ community face.
How do you celebrate Pride? Other than wearing my C&W pride pin I attend all the local pride festivals, purchase goods that support LGBTQ+ locally-owned businesses, and just live my truth. #yesisaidgirlfriend
Also, side story on one of the reasons I was on board with C&W after being contacted by a recruiter: I googled C&W, to make sure I was going to a place that would accept me. At the time that religious liberty law in Georgia was going to the governor and I found an article that said C&W signed, along with a lot of other companies, a letter saying how detrimental laws like that are to a community. When I read that I was hooked and knew C&W was the place I wanted to be.
Director, Florida Research – Orlando
Why is Pride Month important to you?Pride month in Orlando is bittersweet. It kicks off with Gay Days at Disney. I am old enough to remember (and it wasn’t that long ago) when this was an unsanctioned event and one that a family-oriented theme park didn’t want. Before the Internet, Twitter or Facebook, thousands of people would show up at the park with red shirts on to show support and acceptance to the LGBTQ+ community. It was subversive in a very overt way with many of the people working at the park on our side. Today, Gay Days is one of the largest draws to Orlando at the beginning of the Summer. It is wholeheartedly embraced by the community with corporate sponsors. It just shows how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in so short of time.
June also is the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. I am reminded how the people of Orlando came together to provide emotional support and honor the victims of that senseless act. It also showed the at the LGBTQ+ community was deeply interwoven into the everyday fabric of Orlando. We became relatable in our grief. I wish I could say the emotions are still raw from that time, but Orlando is now just one city out of a long list that have experienced similar heartbreak.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? For me as a manager, diversity in the workforce is important, especially on my team. I think having coworkers with different background and different skills sets improves everyone’s game. We work in a high competitive and evolving industry that forces us to change and adapt to succeed. If we are not pushing ourselves to experiment and approach challenges in new ways, then we could become irrelevant (or replaced by AI).
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues? I do think about self-identifying as LGBTQ+ at work. To me it is a part of who I am. I don’t hide it nor do I have a rainbow flag over my desk. I am old enough to remember how much work it was to be in the closet. The best way I have learned to self-identify at work is just being myself. Luckily I am a smart ass who is very good at his job.
Why do you work at C&W? Cushman & Wakefield has provided me personally without a lot of opportunities for professional growth and success. I have built and led a strong research team in Florida that has worked together with leadership and the marketing group to attract new talent, win new business and support the dynamic growth the market has gone through the past three years.
Why is Pride Month important to you?The LGBTQ community includes friends, family, co-workers and community. There is nothing better than supporting those that you love.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? Diversity is actually nothing without education and acceptance of diversity added to the mix. We need to respect each other and celebrate our differences instead of tearing each other down for those differences.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues? Educating others on how different cultures and backgrounds impact our daily business, our economy and our lives and the importance of being accepting.
How do you celebrate Pride? I celebrate Pride with those that I am most proud of around me….those that continue to strive for equality and acceptance. My friends, family, co-workers and community.
Why is Pride Month important to you? It gives a public forum to a group of people who traditionally were very private and not acknowledged and shows that the “times they are a changin.’”
Why is diversity important in the workplace? Each person is gifted with a unique set of talents, and also weaknesses. We need a pool of people with different backgrounds, interests and education to fill in the weak areas for others and to shine with their own contributions. The wider the pool, the more talent available.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies? By maintaining a positive space such as Unity so that there is no stigma to being LGBTQ+ or allied.
How do you celebrate Pride? When I am able, I attend political rallies and Pride parades to show support.
Why is it important to self-identify at work as LGBTQ+ or an ally? I want to be identified as an ally at work so that those in the community know there are safe places to speak honestly and openly.
What does it mean to be an ally at work, besides joining UNITY? It lets my co-workers know that I am there to support them and they can speak freely. In our current political climate, I find myself holding my tongue on any issue, since I am never clear that my co-worker shares that opinion. This way, my co-workers know in advance that I am supportive. I am happy to be part of a company that would allow our LGBTQ+ co-workers to be comfortable at work.
Why is Pride Month important to you? Pride month is important to me because it gives me a chance stand up for something that I believe in.
Why is diversity important in the workplace? There are many men and women of all different fabrics in my work place. Each person whether gay, straight, young, old, has a story to tell. Inputs and ideas are just as varying. Likewise everyone has strengths and weakness. Drawing on each other strengths in the workplace can have huge impacts with positive results in creating a strong company. I am a social person and its great to know that folks of any background can get together for the greater purpose of making a successful business.
How can the workplace best support LGBTQ+ colleagues? Recognition is a great start. There is still such a stigma in the world and sometimes in our own families regarding LGBTQ and its great to have the support of our employer and co-workers.
How do you celebrate Pride? I have joined a men’s group that meets monthly for events and dining. It gives me a chance to socialize with like minded individuals without judgment.
The Pride colors perfectly reflect the sense of the movement: each shade enhances the other, and, like the human race, the whole is more beautiful than the parts.