Happy PRIDE Month! I heard something the other day from a colleague that made me stop. She was watching The Bird Cage with her teenage daughters and one of them hit the pause button.
“Mom, I don’t get this movie at all,” she said. “Why do Nathan Lane and Robin Williams have to pretend they’re not gay?”
The whole premise of the movie was incomprehensible to these Gen Z’ers, who grew up near New York City in an era of openness that didn’t exist at the time the movie was made. Their mother had to explain that the movie came out in the 1990s, when things were different – and that if the characters lived in certain parts of the world today, they might still feel compelled to hide their identity.
I’d like to think that, like my friend’s teenagers, much of that generation is going to take that open-mindedness with them as they enter the workforce. Here in the adult world, we’ve still got a ways to go. There’s no doubt that anti-LGBTQ violence and discrimination influences many people’s decisions to keep their identity private in their communities and workplaces – even in big, cosmopolitan cities like New York.
At Marcum, we put a lot of energy and resources into letting our people know they are valued no matter who they are and that every one of them has access to the same career opportunities and paths to leadership at our firm – regardless of gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, religion, family roots or anything else.
We have a dozen or so Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) so that people who identify in a particular way can find others in our firm who also identify that way. The groups are designed to keep us connected to each other and to facilitate networking, mentorship, and professional development, based on shared interests, cultures, lifestyles and abilities. Beyond being a great support network, they are a way to communicate to our management team about issues or concerns we should be aware of.
As I write this, we’re nearing the end of Marcum’s PRIDE Month celebration. Covid may have kept the Marcum Pride Parade float under wraps again this year, but that didn’t stop our PRIDE ARG from doing a tremendous job in planning a whole calendar of activities for the entire firm. Close to 200 people logged on for our Courageous Conversations panel on Monday, where a number of our LGBTQ team members talked about the impact that identity has had on their career trajectory. They offered some great perspective on how all of us can support the career growth of our LGBTQ colleagues and ideas on how associates at all levels can move beyond conversation and into action. Wearing the Marcum Pride T-shirt (now available from the Marcum online store!) is a good kick start.
Just as with issues of racial justice, we’ve reached a point where mere lip service just doesn’t cut it. It takes concerted, ongoing education and action to overcome factors like unconscious bias that have a real impact on employees’ wellbeing and career potential – LGBTQ and otherwise. Our ARGs have big shoes to fill in helping to keep us focused on the things that matter most to our associates and that may not always be immediately evident to those of us who identify differently.
I’m committed to allyship, and so is Marcum – not just during PRIDE month, but 365 days a year.
And on that note so ends this run of Thoughts of the Week. We traditionally go dark during July and August and this year is no exception. Those of you who know me or have been following this column for a while know I will most likely be spending as much of this back-to-the-office summer as possible on Long Island, when not visiting one of our many offices. Summer in the Northeast is spectacular, one of the benefits of living here. I hope you all get to enjoy a happy, healthy and balanced summer, and we’ll be back September 3.