Leading up to Pride Month, Sherri Brudner, the co-executive sponsor of Macquarie's Pride Americas employee network group connected with Kay Dosu to discuss ways LGBTQ+ allies can actively support the fight for equal rights at such a critical time in history.
Could you tell us a little about yourself, your work with the LGBTQ+ community to date and what inspired you to become involved with the Macquarie Pride employee network group?
I've been with Macquarie almost four years and recently became a co-chair of the Pride Americas committee. I took on the opportunity for a few reasons; the first was really about diversity. Today more than ever, it's important to have representation for people of color within the LGBTQ+ community. The timing was good because the civil rights of two significant parts of my identity have been the center of public discussion for some time now and I wanted to have my say. The opportunity to help facilitate a constructive dialogue has never been more important to drive lasting change.
A second reason I got involved was that I knew I had the support of the Macquarie community to help make a difference. Our employees are well-positioned to make an exponential impact in the community in a number of different ways. The first is the ability to rally behind a cause through volunteering. Our staff collectively logged over 46,000 volunteer hours last year alone. Another way is through the Macquarie Group Foundation, which matches employee donations and fundraising efforts of up to $A50,000 per year – that's huge. This year, the Foundation announced a $A20 million COVID-19 relief fund and an additional $A1 million dollar relief fund for organisations that are supported by Macquarie employees, some of which went to organisations I support. Now, we're focused on identifying ways to increase support for organisations empowering Black communities. This ability to support the community with the backing of a global organisation has been empowering.
Can you share some of what our Pride team is doing to support the LGBTQ+ partner community?
In the Americas, the Pride employee network group is focused on identifying where we can make an impact and how to best amplify that impact. For us that means choosing to focus on smaller organisations that don't get considerable public attention but are at the forefront of the movement. We're currently supporting three organisations that cater to various parts of the LGBTQ+ community. The first is the Ali Forney Center, which supports LGBTQ+ youth at risk of homelessness. Next, there's the New York Anti-Violence Project (AVP), which I'm personally invested in because of the legal services they offer to immigrants seeking asylum in this country. My family immigrated to the US when I was young, and I feel privileged to be able to live my full self comfortably in this country. AVP is also focused on supporting the trans community who are disproportionately experiencing higher instances of violence. The organisation offers counseling for survivors and a 24-hour violence reporting hotline. Lastly, SAGE caters to the LGBTQ+ elderly community, providing access to technology resources and important daily meal services. COVID-19 exacerbated the need for these organizations while also eliminating fundraising events which make up a considerable part of their revenue. Non-profit organisations need our help now more than ever, and our Pride group is committed to helping however we can.
How is Macquarie marking Pride Month this year and how can the ally community get involved?
Civil rights are at the forefront this Pride season. In my opinion, one of the most important things I and others can do is to pay attention and educate ourselves on the journey to equality. This year, Pride Americas partnered with The Generations Project to host a virtual show to present stories from LGBTQ+ history makers and the key milestones that helped define and advance the movement.
Most of us know Pride as a time of celebration and while we have some recent wins to celebrate, such as the US Supreme Court decision to protect LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace, it's important to recognize it hasn't always been that way. The first Pride event was a riot - not much different from what we are seeing today. Similarly, this is a historic moment for civil rights and not just for the LGBTQ+ community. The timing, intersectionality and the volume of the movement all make it that much more impactful. We should all be paying attention and taking action to make a long-lasting positive change. For my part, I'm using my voice as co-chair of Pride Americas, alongside Scott Malone, and my role as board member at the New York Anti-Violence Project to help spread awareness and maximize impact toward a more equitable society.
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