Celebrating Beyond the RainbowJuly 6, 2023
In commemoration of the Stonewall uprising, June has been designated Pride Month since 1970. Pride month is a time to spread love, honor the struggles and celebrate the achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. This past June, ComEd held several events in honor of Pride Month, including panel discussions, workshops and lunch and learns, and attended the Pride parades in Aurora and Chicago. At Chicago’s Pride parade, ComEd CEO Gil Quiniones and VP of Customer Financial Operations Jason Decker marched alongside ComEd’s first electric vehicle (EV) float!
ComEd support and celebration of Pride doesn’t last only for the month of June. ComEd is committed to authentically supporting the LGBTQ+ community all year round. Most recently, ComEd partnered with GenderCool, a non-profit organization whose mission is to replace misinformed opinions with positive stories and experiences from transgender and non-binary individuals. One benefit of the partnership includes quarterly virtual hangouts with parents, Champions, and the founder of GenderCool for all employees and their families who are members of the Exelon Pride employee resource group (ERG).
Rebecca Kartheiser, president of Exelon Pride’s Chicago chapter, describes Exelon Pride as “an internal community for members of the LGBTQ community and their allies to network, and find community and common ground with one another, which provides a valuable resource in and of itself.” While Exelon Pride focuses on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, many of the events they plan are held in collaboration with other ERGs to highlight the importance of intersectionality and diversity. For example, Exelon Pride partnered with the Network of Exelon Women during Women’s History Month to highlight trans women’s contributions to the Women’s Rights Movement and to the Gay Liberation Movement.
Neena Hemmady, VP of Support Services, explains how intersectionality drives ComEd’s DEI efforts. “When we create conversations around intersectionality, it drives allyship and cross-functional events. LGBTQ+ issues overlap with other DEI issues, and it’s good to ensure that all of us are educated about them and understand our employees’ perspectives.”
For example, last year, Exelon Pride hosted its first presentation about employee benefits. “There are benefits that specifically affect the LBGTQ+ community, like gender-affirming care, but also benefits like fertility care and adoption that affect both our community and others that our healthcare plans cover,” said Rebecca. The presentation received great feedback, so we will continue offering these presentations annually right before employees make their annual health plan elections.
Principal DEI Programs Manager Saira Raja describes how ComEd makes it a priority to support all of the diverse identities we have in our organization. “In order to reflect our values as an inclusive employer, starting this year, employees can now voluntarily self ID their sexual orientation, their gender identity, and identify whether they are an LGBTQ+ community member or an ally.”
For those who might not be members of the LGBTQ+ community and want to learn how to be an effective ally, Saira suggests using your knowledge and voice as a tool to advocate for others. “When we speak up as allies, we are more likely to be heard and less likely to face negative impacts, said Saira.” Rebecca recommends taking steps like adding your pronouns in your email signature or saying your pronouns when you introduce yourself in a meeting since “simple changes can start normalizing these kinds of conversations.”
While Pride Month is over, ComEd will continue to support the LGTQ+ community by providing resources and benefits for employees who, in return, are better prepared to support the needs of our customers.
“When you truly feel like you belong, then you bring your whole self into your work,” says Neena. “You’re happier as an employee. We’re happier as an employer. The customer gets better service. You know, everybody benefits from it.”