Proud to be ourselves

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U.S. Bank employees keep the spirit of Pride alive long after the parades.

Pride is a time to come together in celebration of the LGBTQ community, honor the legacy of LGBTQ pioneers who fought for equality, and continue that together. U.S. Bank employees ensure that spirit endures all year long, providing development opportunities and programming through our Business Resource Groups (BRGs), including Spectrum LGBTQ BRG, our group for LGBTQ employees and their allies.

Tell us a little bit about why an LGBTQ BRG is important – and why you participate.

Masoud Torabi, Seattle: Our current environment requires both companies and the individuals leading them go beyond the molds of the past and embrace the human experience – whether we’re in the super conservative banking industry or in the fashion industry. Diversity must be embraced with welcome no matter your line of work. In fact, I had been told to refrain from being 100% me when entering the financial services industry. But guess what? I’ve built a career out of winning people’s hearts and businesses by just being genuine and me. Just today, I walked into a quarterly manager meeting with a white-and-pink-patterned button-up and shoes with spikes on the back. Bold, sure. Groundbreaking? Yes, not only for me but also for the environment we are in.

The world is embracing a whole new kind of leader, and we are all contributing to that amazing reality in the best way by growing a culture where everyone is valued for exactly who they are – and feel comfortable bringing their full, engaged selves to the table every day.

Matt Hudson, Twin Cities: The whole enterprise can come to BRGs as a point of reference when implementing changes and seeking our feedback to drive strategy. Being on the chapter board has exposed me to different leadership styles, different lines of business and has allowed me to form countless mentorships I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to form just working my nine-to-five. 

Daniel Taylor, Cincinnati: I actually originally joined just as a favor to a coworker. Now, Spectrum has become a sort of second home for me at the bank. I’ve developed close friendships with the board and my fellow members, and developed an appreciation for how much the bank does to support LGBTQ employees and to help them succeed in their careers.

What events are you most proud of? 

Daniel: In terms of the sheer scale of the impact, that would be the creation of the What Not to Say series of panel discussions. We always hear people grumbling that they feel like they can’t say anything without offending someone, but What Not to Say provided a space for people to listen and to hear the context of why their words may be inadvertently offensive. It has been great to see these events planned across the country, as the discussion is important in every market and every line of business. Whether we’re talking to coworkers or customers, we always want to be respectful of their backgrounds and know how to recover if we end up sticking our feet in our mouths.

Matt: In partnership with U.S. Bank’s campus relations team and Compass (Carlson School of Management LGBT group), we’ve hosted several student events. Most recently, we invited employees to discuss their coming-out stories and the importance of our allies. To see the faces of the students, the future workforce of our companies, and how engaged they were with the stories – and the questions they asked after the presentation – was awe-inspiring. And, seeing Compass itself grow from 5-6 key leaders to 100+ students involved today has been remarkable and inspiring.  

How else does Spectrum support the LGBTQ community?

Daniel: Cincinnati Spectrum supports both Pride events local to our market—Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky—and sponsor GLSEN Greater Cincinnati. We volunteer with GLSEN Greater Cincinnati and BrightLife, an initiative of Lighthouse Youth & Family Services.

It’s impossible to know someone is a member of the LGBTQ community without being told. Providing representation to the youth who are a part of these organizations is important, as many have been told that they would have to hide who they are in order to succeed in life. Standing in front of these teens and young adults as proof that it is possible to be openly queer and to thrive in a professional environment has a measurable effect on self-esteem and drive.