On Friday, June 26, BOCA Communications (BOCA) took part in PRSA Silicon Valley’s “Pride is Cancelled. Now What?” #FridayForum. The discussion covered how we are currently at the intersection of a global pandemic, a recession, a Presidential election season, social unrest over racial injustice, specifically toward our Black communities, and what that meant for Pride this year.
The panelists were Alexandra Legend Siegel, Director of Equality Content and Enablement at SalesForce, Andy Nguyen, SF Chapter Lead for Out in Tech, Chris Powell, Vice President of Media Strategy at BOCA, and Cynthia Horiguchi, Corporate Communications at Google. The moderator was Scott Thornburg, former PRSA SV President and Global Communications Lead at Sojern.
If you were unable to attend the event, we wanted to share with you five important and key takeaways.
- “If it’s not your community, don’t tell the story yourself. Pull someone in from the community to tell the story.” – Alexandra Legend Siegel
Do not speak for other communities. Amplify people from the community that are already talking about issues. As allies, it is not our job to tell the story, it is to provide a megaphone.
- “Pride this year for me is about allyship and listening.” – Andrew Nguyen
A lot of the discussion centered around how the LGBTQ+ community is making sure to amplify Black voices during this time period. It is important to focus on how we can all be allies.
- “Research is a huge part of our job as storytellers and communicators.” – Chris Powell
In order to tell a story, we need to know the whole story. This means we need to research the history to be able to present a well-rounded story.
- “We talk about progress and it is really great to celebrate all these things that are happening — but I think we should all acknowledge that progress is not enough, we need to continue.” – Cynthia Horiguchi
Even though many injustices are being discussed in the mainstream right now, discussion alone is not enough. There is a lot of work to be done. Allies need to step up and prepare to do the work because it will be a long and tiring process.
- “The sentiment ‘invite them to the table’ implies ownership of the table…even that kind of language we are having to take a closer look at.” – Scott Thornburg
We need to be aware that even when we mean well, our message can come across wrong. As communicators, we should be acutely aware of how we are phrasing and presenting things.
This week, PRSA Silicon Valley’s Ellie Javadi published “Taking PRIDE from a Communicator’s Unique Lens,” where they also highlighted key findings from the panelists and moderators. The article also touched upon critical legislation that has been taken away from the LGBTQ+ community, such as the dismantling of the Defense of Marriage Act and the Voting Rights Act and “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policies being repealed. As a community, we need to practice inclusivity across all genders and colors to encourage allyships.
On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on that federal law protects workers from job discrimination based on their sexual orientation or expression. Until the ruling, 27 states did not have statewide laws banning such discrimination. This is a step forward for the LGBTQ+ community and we need to continue many more steps forward.
We are so proud that our very own Chris Powell brainstormed this panel with Ellie Javadi, and we look forward to continuing support and developing additional allies across communities. We also understand there is a lot of work to be done. We are grateful to be part of the conversation and look forward to taking action within our organization and continuing to partner (ally) with other organizations to further diversity, equality and inclusion.
Kathleen Shanahan, BOCA’s founder
Chris Powell, Vice President of Media Strategy