June was international Pride Month, and this year had special significance because of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising and subsequent riots. This year, Merkle offices across the country celebrated diversity, inclusion, and #MERKLEPRIDE19 in their own unique ways — promoting open discussions and driving solidarity and comradery across teams. For the month of June, a specially-designed Merkle logo with a modern rainbow backdrop was featured and promoted to honor the occasion.
The King of Prussia office created a Wizard of Oz themed party featuring a special-guest Drag-Queen version of Dorothy; great photo ops and crowd-sourced goodies were enjoyed by all. Chicago featured a TED Talk hosted by iO Tillett Wright called “50 Shades of Gay,” with rainbow ice cream treats, and a creative competition with team members decorating their workstations as Pride floats. Pittsburgh hosted a lively lunch and learn, sharing some poignant LGBTQIA2+ history and an open discussion, while San Francisco held a celebratory team-building mini-golf event. Denver had the ever-popular fundraising bar carts and team members attending Denver Pride; great fun was had by all down on Capitol Hill, with rainbow flags galore! To round it out, Columbia featured the “50-Shades” TED Talk as well, with a happy hour and donations for rosé leading the charge for fundraising and a harmonious ambiance.
Each office had the freedom to choose events that felt relevant for their employee population; with the main goals of celebrating, educating, and fundraising. The proceeds from bar carts, raffles, and donations drove the #MERKLERIDE19 GoFundMe effort to provide support for Point Foundation, the national LGBTQIA2+ scholarship fund. The foundation not only offers scholarships, they also connect LGBTQIA2+ youth with mentors, internships, and host leadership-building classes. As leaders and members of the business community, our company believes it’s important to help nurture the next generation. Who knows, maybe the next great Merkle intern, creative, customer experience, analyst or SEO specialist will be a Point Foundation scholar? Through everyone’s generous donations, hard work, and awareness building, we decimated our $1,000 initial goal with over $2,218 in funds raised to date.
The LGBTQIA2+ pillar is comprised of both allies and members of the community. Though we each have our own stories and coming-out journeys, it is incredibly heartwarming to see coworkers from all verticals and seniority, not only enthusiastically participate in the events, but to also ask appropriate questions to help better their own understanding. With 22 states still allowing someone to be fired due to their sexual orientation, it is wonderful to know the Merkle family stands behind and champions the community.
Keeping up the momentum, we have already started planning for next year. In 2020, our goal is to organize pride events across all Merkle Americas offices, in concert and collaboration with other DAN agencies. Our focus will remain on the three main tenants of: celebrating, educating, and fundraising. Pride is all about celebrating who you are, remembering the struggles we’ve fought – and still need to overcome – and helping the community at large promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion.