by Ryan Cottrell on June 27, 2019
We’re not a pack. We’re a pride.
What does it mean to be proud at work? That’s the question Publicis wanted to answer this June in its continuous pursuit to create a more inclusive workplace for all. With the help of the Driving Change Team, Social Committee and Leadership Team, the Toronto office planned a Pride month to not only celebrate the LGBTQ2S+ Community, but also help educate on how to truly be an ally.
On June 13, Publicis welcomed Jeffrey Reffo from The 519 to speak on gender expansive language, personal pronouns, and how we can each take affirming action as allies. Jeffrey is a Social Worker, LGBTQ2S+ educator and community advocate. The focus of his work is to identify/reduce barriers, increase personal capacity through a strengths based approach, and celebrate resilience. Our team showed up in a big way for this kick-off event, and Jeffrey’s teachings helped us to better understand how using correct pronouns reduces barriers and makes everyone feel valued. In addition, the Driving Change Team designed and provided unique pronoun stickers for all employees, which can now be spotted on laptops and notebooks throughout the agency.
In the following week, we were joined by Philip Wong, Director of Development at Rainbow Railroad. RR is a Toronto-based charity providing support and emergency travel to safe countries for LGBTQ2S+ people living at risk of social and state-sponsored violence due to their sexual orientation or gender expression. Philip shared Rainbow Railroad’s journey from a small start-up, to a growing Non-Profit that was recently featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes. As Pride Toronto’s supported charity for the 2019 festival, Publicis joined fund-raising efforts by producing and selling colourful ‘Pub Pride’ T-shirts and pins.
To wrap up a great month of learning and fundraising, Publicis Toronto threw an epic Pride celebration in true agency style. The Clubhouse was decked out in rainbows from floor to ceiling, and our team enthusiastically welcomed Toronto’s fabulous French-Canadian Drag Star, Jezebel Bardot. Not only did she wow us with her jaw-dropping stage performance, she also spoke from the heart about the importance of an inclusive workplace. Jezebel shared her story of coming out a second time, this time as a drag queen. We learned about how her work-life got even better after opening up about her art form with her coworkers at the Catholic School Board of Ontario.
Kudos to all involved in this year’s activities. Publicis Pride 2019 was a huge success for the entire agency and continues to raise the bar of what we’re capable of when we work together.