Together we stand for Pride

A Pride Network That Supports Its Community


Workplace inclusivity is an important value for many of us in the LGBTQ+ community. When the company we work for takes an active role in fostering a culture of acceptance, we all thrive and make the business grow. In fact, research shows that when LGBTQ+ folks and other minority groups feel a sense of belonging in the workplace, they connect with their colleagues, develop their skills and talents, and aim for growth and longevity in the company. As such, it is incumbent upon companies across all industries to create a community of support for diversity and inclusion.

Fortunately for queer folks, McDonald's does the hard work of building up a workplace community where its LGBTQ+ community – from crew members to leadership – are empowered to use their talents to help the company grow and thrive. There is more work to be done, but McDonald's is committed to its queer workforce through initiates that empower, strengthen, and amplify the brand in meaningful ways.

A central tenet of McDonald's efforts to bolster the LGBTQ+ community is through its Pride Network, "an employee business network dedicated to making McDonald's better by leveraging the talent and experiences of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Ally employees," according to a post on McDonald's LinkedIn.

Since its inception in 2005, the network has been instrumental in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in and out of the workplace, positioning itself as the driving force behind the company's LGBTQ+ policies and causes. In fact, the Pride Network is leveraged to "bring our values to life to improve the experience of our employees, providing them with professional development opportunities, social events, networking, volunteering and more throughout the year."

Bill Russell, a longtime ally in McDonald's Pride Network, sees how his time a part of the network "has been rewarding, revealing" and a "no brainer." During his tenure, he dove in head first and hasn't looked back, getting involved in a variety of network events, including the AIDS Run & Walk Chicago and the Chicago Pride Parade.

"The people in the network have taught me so much, including the importance of being resilient and accepting things I don't understand," Bill says. In fact, his experiences and growth process has developed him into an ally, a trusted supporter who actively lifts up and champions fellow LGBTQ+ employees. "I have a colleague who has a trans son," Bill says. "When he found out I was a member of the Pride Network, he felt comfortable coming to me and sharing more about his family."

Beyond the Pride Network, McDonald's has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – an organization that leads the fight for LGBTQ+ equality and inclusion – as a business that works to foster a diverse and inclusive community for its LGBTQ+ crew members and leadership. In fact, HRC implements the Corporate Equality Index, "a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies, practices and benefits pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees."

McDonald's was chosen as one of 545 companies to receive the Equality 100 Award for "taking concrete steps to establish and implement comprehensive policies, benefits and practices that ensure greater equity for LGBTQ+ workers and their families." The company has been thrilled to receive such a distinguished honor, and continues to challenge, grow, and inspire with its active role in a workplace culture that is at once accepting and empowering.

Since we spend a huge amount of time at work each day, workplace culture and environment that is diverse and inclusive is very important to LGBTQ+ folks and their allies. Company efforts to shape the culture toward the values of the queer community have made huge strides in recent years – and McDonald's stands among some of the most remarkable brands that seek to empower its out and proud workforce.

The key is to get involved and use your voice for good, helping those around you and letting colleagues and coworkers feel safe to live their truth – in and out of the workplace. As Bill Russell, mentioned above, puts it: "It's humbling and empowering to learn from the people in the [Pride] network every day," because McDonald's efforts with its Pride Network and collaborations with organizations like HRC "pulls the best from everybody."

by Roger Porter

This story is part of our special report: "McDonald's Unity in Diversity and Mentally Strong Editorial Series". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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