The Principal is dedicated to creating a culture of inclusion where all employees feel they can be themselves.
The Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender/Ally Employee Resource Group at the company supports this core value by providing education and awareness to all employees, including members of the GLBT community and their straight allies.
Members of the GLBTA Employee Resource Group at The Principal share their personal stories of hope in a video for the international It Gets Better Project™ – a campaign focused on assuring GLBT youth that as they get older, life gets easier. Employees say support in the workplace is one of the things that can truly make a difference.
"This is a message of hope for GLBT youth that it will indeed get much better and that it is critically important they hang in there and know they have allies. They are not alone," says Nora Everett, senior vice president at The Principal and co-chair of the company's Diversity Council.
"The Principal salutes the employees who are stepping forward to share their inspiring stories. We are proud to present them to the youth of America because our commitment to diversity and inclusion extends beyond our corporate walls."
April 16, 2014
By Nora Everett, senior vice president at The Principal
When I was 10 years old, my parents decided it was important to visibly support racial desegregation and for me to experience greater diversity. I'd been attending my neighborhood school where almost all my classmates were white and middle-class—like me. So my parents open-enrolled me in a school across town where the students were predominately African American—and the classrooms were much more diverse. As a fifth grader, I became the minority student.
I was lucky to be raised in a home where inclusion and acceptance were just part of the fabric. But nothing could prepare me for being "the outsider." I was the new kid. I didn't belong to the neighborhood and I didn’t have any friends at school. All these years later, I still remember the feeling of being alone and isolated. Yet, with four decades of hindsight, I am very grateful to have had this experience. Dealing with the challenge helped build a personal foundation of resilience and independence tempered with a strong dose of empathy for anyone who has ever felt like "the outsider."
Fast forward to my early 20s. One of my best friends from high school and college—a person with whom I had spent countless hours sharing sports and school and family—told me she was gay. I was stunned that she had kept this part of her hidden for so long—even from me, a good friend who (I thought) embraced diversity. But what really impacted me was learning that she kept it secret because she was fearful. Until then, I didn't understand there is real fear in coming out. Fear of losing friends, fear of how family will react. Fear of what society will think—and do.
As a result, I received an early lesson in the importance of visible allies. It was not enough to be quietly tolerant or accepting. Instead, I learned that openly and visibly embracing gay friends and family was critically important to help diminish fear and promote understanding.
Fast forward to the present. I am fortunate to work for a company that values diversity and inclusiveness as much as I do. The Principal has been very progressive in its commitment to inclusion. One example: more than 20 years ago, The Principal decided to make benefits available to domestic partners of employees— regardless of gender. That was a bold step back then.
So it came as no surprise to me when employees of The Principal—members of our Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered Ally (GLBTA) Employee Resource Group—wanted to be bold again by creating a video for the It Gets Better ProjectTM.
The It Gets Better Project began in 2010 in response to a rash of suicides among gay high school students who had been bullied. Adults began sharing their stories on video, telling students that as they get older, it does get easier to be gay in America.
Companies like The Principal understand the importance of having an environment where every employee—regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion or life experience—feels comfortable bringing their true and best selves to work. That kind of environment is critical for companies to
Beyond being good for business, it is the right thing to do.
Diversity and inclusion in corporate America helps ensure that it keeps getting better for all non-majority groups at the worksite and in our communities. As I learned early on, visible allies are critical and I’m proud to work for a company that gets it.