Article | 6 min read

Pride month ends, the action continues

Zendesk celebrated Pride 2022 under the theme of Love Sparks Action. Here's how we will continue to support LGBTQIA+ rights and champion diversity, equity, and inclusion for all.

By Dave Kim, Vice President of DE&I

Published July 1, 2022
Last updated July 5, 2022

Supporting equality and inclusion for all is a core value at Zendesk, and it has been from the very start. As Pride month comes to a close, we’re reflecting on how we can continue to support LGBTQIA+ rights.

Our Pride Employee Community (EC) provides a safe place for employees and allies to share trials and tribulations and celebrate their unique personal stories. We are passionate about standing shoulder to shoulder with LGBTQIA+ communities around the globe in the fight for equality. Why? Because we’ve made an unwavering commitment and pledge to uphold and champion diversity, equity, and inclusion against all odds.

In the last year, we have witnessed some great wins for the LGBTQIA+ community across the world:

  • Switzerland and Chile legalized same-sex marriage.
  • Tokyo metropolitan government recognized same-sex partnerships.
  • Scotland became the first country to require teaching of LGBTQ+ history in schools.
  • New Zealand, Germany, Canada, and France banned conversion therapy.
  • New Zealand eased regulations for the transgender community to update birth certificates.
  • The U.S. joined Australia, India, and Iceland (among other countries) to issue its very first gender-neutral passports and added a non-binary gender option on U.S. passports.
  • U.S. military ended the ban on transgender service members in the U.S. military.
  • England, Scotland, and Wales officially lifted the blood donation ban for gay and bisexual men.

With these significant strides in the fight for equality for the LGBTQIA+ community, we have indeed come a long way, but there are still miles to go.

In June 2021, Zendesk celebrated Pride month under the theme of Love Sparks Justice. Yet during the past year, there were as many setbacks as there have been wins. We also saw an alarming increase in attacks on LGBTQIA+ rights around the world and a rise in anti-trans rhetoric in the mainstream media, threatening the progress that the community has made. That’s why this year, we celebrated Pride month with the theme of Love Sparks Action, to recognize the need for continued progress around the world.

We have indeed come a long way, but there are still miles to go.

“At Zendesk, we believe that all employees deserve the opportunity to live authentically and thrive at work,” says Jeff Titterton, our COO and executive sponsor of the company’s Pride Employee Community. “As part of that mission, we want to share our resources and knowledge to support organizations that are promoting diversity and inclusion worldwide. In light of recent threats, we recognize the critical need for continued progress in the fight for equality for our LGBTQIA+ community. It is important to keep shining a light on these issues and voices, and keep the conversations alive not only during Pride month but throughout the year.”

This year, we gathered internally and externally with teams around the globe to shed light on the lived experiences and realities of the Pride EC and to celebrate our LGBTQIA+ community.

How Zendesk celebrated Pride month

We kicked off our internal celebrations with our Break the Binary workshop where participants were challenged to address their own implicit bias, learn how to stand up to microaggressions at work and beyond, and create a more inclusive and empowering environment for people from historically underrepresented and marginalized communities.

A follow-up workshop led by LGBTQ trainer and consultant Addison Rose Vincent took a deeper dive into various systems of oppression and examined personal unconscious bias.

Cat in rainbow bandana and hat
A Zendesk employee celebrates Pride month

We also hosted a virtual webinar with our partners at the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce, where we discussed the history of Pride in the Asia-Pacific region and LGBT rights in Asia.

Our internal Being Queer Around the World workshop at Zendesk encouraged open conversations aimed to cultivate an understanding of how our colleagues and members of the LGBTQIA+ community experience different realities based on where they are in the world. The exchanges brought into focus various legal environments, parental rights, and day-to-day realities, viewed through different cultural lenses.

And, of course, we had fun together, too! Our Drag Photo Contest ran throughout the month, giving employees the opportunity to share fun moments with their family, friends, and even pets!

Strength in numbers: Working with external partners and in our communities

This year, the Zendesk Global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion team partnered with the Lesbians Who Tech (LWT) organization as a sponsor for their 2022 Pride Summit. This year’s annual Pride Summit took place after a two-year hiatus and included content, networking, and recruiting opportunities over five days. Senior leaders from Zendesk participated in several key panel discussions and sessions such as Building Inclusion with Employee Communities. Proceeds from the ticket sales support the important work LWT does to help LGBTQ women and non-binary leaders in their careers.

“We recognize the critical need for continued progress in the fight for equality for our LGBTQIA+ community. It is important to keep shining a light on these issues and voices, and keep the conversations alive not only during Pride month but throughout the year.” Jeff Titterton, Zendesk COO and executive sponsor of our Pride Employee Community

Our global Pride employee communities took over our volunteering events around the world this June to meet, do good, and raise awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues in our communities. One such event was Zendesk Manila’s volunteering event with Hands on Manila as they made bokashi balls together with The Golden Gays. This opportunity was a chance for elderly gay folks to spend time outdoors, meet our employees, and receive much-needed household and hygiene kits.

“This year’s Pride 2022 celebration at Zendesk was amazing!” shares Jessica Fang, a software engineer at Zendesk Australia. “Our Pride Employee Community really went above and beyond to hold events throughout the month and provide opportunities for all employees around the world to celebrate. Thank you, Zendesk, for being a leader in advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community.”

If not us, then who?

As a global company with offices around the world, Zendesk is committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ community and organizations across five continents. Zendesk scored 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index (CEI)—earning us the designation as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.” We are a signatory to the Business Statement Opposing Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation and have an ongoing partnership with Out Leadership to advance LGBTQ+ representation in leadership and provide leadership development opportunities catered to our LGBTQIA+ employees.

Each one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a real difference.

Our Pride EC actively promotes diversity in events, drives change in company policies, creates educational opportunities for colleagues and partners, and is a voice for social justice.

“This is how Pride originated. It was minorities who stood up for themselves. Whenever I get to work on something Pride-related in my spare time, I think that if I don’t do it, who will do it for me and for my community? For my future wife? For people outside of Zendesk? I think that’s the mindset that most people involved in ERGs have,” shares Marina Snegirjova, Zendesk EMEA Pride lead and director of marketing and lifecycle programs.

We believe each one of us has the power and the responsibility to make a real difference and our business—and its employees—can be powerful engines of change.