Gizianne “Tammy” Lafond, a Work Week Manager at Pepco, says a lot has changed since 2017 when a small group of employees gathered around a conference table for Pepco’s first Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) meeting. At first, people were hesitant to get involved in the company’s newest initiative, but the group grew quickly in years one and two. Before long, they came to host some of the company’s most popular and engaging events.
When the COVID-19 hit, the group (like the rest of the world) was forced to adjust. Tammy said events moved online, and while enrollments remained strong, discerning how engaged attendees are can be difficult. From fireside chats and webinars to a drag trivia event, the Pride ERG worked hard to keep up the momentum. This year, as mandates lifted, Capital Pride’s reunited theme reinvigorated the group. More than 75 Pepco employees participated in the parade, assembling, and distributing hundreds of giveaways for the crowd.
The gains made by the broader LGBTQ+ community are undeniable, but Tammy explained that there will always be a struggle for Pride. “Even in 2022, it’s still hard for a lot of people to just openly be themselves at work,” she explained, but support from managers to lead cultural change at work helps immensely. Tammy told us her managers at Pepco have always been supportive, but this year her supervisor got directly involved with the Pride ERG by volunteering and decorating their office for Pride. She also issued a challenge to Tammy to step into a leadership position as a Pride ERG board member. Although she had shied away from joining the board, Tammy was inspired by the engagement she saw. She explained, “This year more than ever, Pride was personal and direct. I can see the enthusiasm from my leadership to be a part of what we’re doing.” Reflecting on next steps for Pride at work and in our communities, Tammy left us with a call-to-action to keep Pride visible all year round.