Houston is world-famous for its oil and gas industry, and Chevron is prominent among the local industry giants. This year, the company’s P.R.I.D.E. Employee Network is celebrating thirty years of inclusion. This is a major milestone for a company that has set the standard for corporate awareness of their LGBTQ employees.
“The origins of the P.R.I.D.E. network date back to 1991, when a group of gay and lesbian Chevron employees in the San Francisco Bay Area decided to form an employee association. They sent a letter to the Chevron chief executive officer announcing that they had formed, and that they were looking for certain rights and protections,” says P.R.I.D.E. president Brian Redmond, 37. “Employee networks, at that time, were not sanctioned, so it started a back-and-forth between the group and our executives. Eventually, the Chevron Lesbian & Gay Employees Association was formed.”
P.R.I.D.E. stands for Promote Respect, Inclusion, & Dignity for Everyone. The worldwide network boasts over 2,000 employee members across 20 countries, with about half located in the U.S. As the first affinity group to be formed within the company, P.R.I.D.E. opened the door for twelve other affinity-based employee groups. Collectively, they act as a resource for attracting and retaining talent, and enhance Chevron’s reputation through community activities and outreach. These groups also provide formal mentoring programs, aid in diversity recruiting, and offer opportunities for skill building and development.
The employee network has been integral in making Chevron one of the most inclusive companies in the world. In 1993, Chevron became the first oil and gas company to add “sexual orientation” to its nondiscrimination policies, which now also include gender identity and gender expression. In 1998, Chevron added domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples. Since 2005, the company has achieved a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and in 2011, Chevron became the first major oil company to extend healthcare benefits to transgender employees and offer official guidelines for transitioning at work.
“P.R.I.D.E. offers a variety of programming and training to help raise awareness and drive inclusiveness for LGBTQ employees. Above and beyond our Ally program, Chevron has made gender-neutral bathrooms available at our largest locations. We participate in local LGBTQ+ community events and, overall, celebrate how our diversity makes us a stronger company that partners more effectively as one team,” says Redmond.
For the past several years, Chevron has been one of the major participants and sponsors of the annual Houston Pride festivities, and they will continue that tradition this year when the downtown parade returns with
“DiverCity” as its theme.
“Chevron has been participating in the Houston Pride celebration for years,” Redmond notes. “We strongly believe in supporting the communities in which we live and work, and by participating in our annual Pride celebration, we not only support our LGBTQ+ workforce in Houston, but also the Houston LGBTQ+ community more broadly.”
In addition to its presence at Pride celebrations all over the world, Chevron will be raising the Pride flag at all of its corporate locations to show its commitment to the LGBTQ community. Although many of the company’s celebratory events will continue to remain virtual this year due to COVID-19, there are many learning and development events being hosted on topics such as trans allyship within the Women’s Network, and a deeper dive with the Native American Network into the concept of being Two-Spirit.
Early on in the P.R.I.D.E. group’s history, Redmond explains why there was hesitancy around its development. “Initially there was hesitation because the concept of an employee network was not well understood. The understanding that affinity groups can help grow the talent of underrepresented communities within companies was not as commonplace as it is today. And the LGBTQ+ community was more fringe than it is now, as well, so it took some meaningful dialogue to allow for the group to become officially sanctioned. But once it did, it quickly began making impacts on the lives of the LGBTQ+ employees at the company.”
Part of the reason for the group’s early success, according to Redmond, was that Chevron’s headquarters are located in San Francisco, which is famous for its large LGBTQ community. The P.R.I.D.E. network’s mission is to build an impactful and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary/gender-nonconforming, queer, plus, and ally workforce, and all intersections of identity. It strives to enable all employees to bring their authentic selves to work and have the opportunity to achieve their full potential.
The group has had a deep impact on Chevron’s culture over the decades. That impact is sustained by its ongoing work with other groups to keep things moving in the direction of equality and inclusion.
“Chevron partners with many national leaders in this space, including the Human Rights Campaign and Out & Equal,” Redmond adds. “This enables us to continue to learn from others about what we need to do to continue to evolve our workplace into one that models the best in terms of inclusion and benefits, as well as to share our best practices with other companies to help them grow in their LGBTQ+ equality journey.”
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This article appears in the June 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.