Lilly PRIDE began in 1994 with humble origins. This United Way ELEVATE finalist for Employee Resource Group of the Year started with Eli Lilly and Company employees organizing after-hours meet ups for gay and lesbian employees through a blind carbon copy email. From these informal roots to its eventual formation as Lilly PRIDE, its purpose remained true throughout: to promote equal experience, treatment and safety for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people and those of other diverse sexual orientations. 2019 marks the group’s 25th Anniversary.
As a trailblazer in equality, Eli Lilly and Company has accrued impressive accolades, including
DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity (No. 6 last year), Thomson Reuters Top 100 Most Diverse & Inclusive Organizations Globally, and a Top Company for LGBT Employees and Employee Resource Groups on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, earning a perfect score every year since 2006.
PRIDE’s community engagement chair, Megan Klopchin, credits the openness of Lilly’s corporate culture for part of her journey in coming out. “I didn’t feel comfortable being out but had heard that Lilly was an open place. The message was come work here, be out, join the group. In my first week there was a Welcome Wagon that took me out to lunch and gave me the confidence to be myself.”
Eli Lilly and Company’s benefits back up this message. PRIDE Chair Jonathan Scott said: “We have a whole range of employees with different family types. It’s so meaningful that Lilly has given domestic partners benefits and paid leave for mothers, fathers, partners and adoptive and foster parents.”
Having these affirming benefits and an executive-backed Employee Resource Group dedicated to LGBTQ+ is helping open up conversations, not just for internal employees, but for Central Indiana and beyond.
In addition to the core PRIDE organization, Lilly also has an associated LGBTQ+ ally program that welcomes everyone to join, and shares messages of diversity and inclusion; activating people at all levels. One important effort to drive conversation is reverse mentoring, where LGBTQ+ employees share their experiences and challenges with senior leaders. They match two LGBTQ+ employees with one executive for ongoing discussions to build understanding. Leaders might receive “homework” such as using “partner” or “spouse,” instead of “wife” or “husband.”
Lilly PRIDE has engaged in a wide range of volunteer and service projects, including collecting donations for Indiana Youth Group and Transgender Day of Remembrance, designing floats for the Indy PRIDE parade and supporting an inaugural event for DEAF PRIDE. They also organize the Lilly PRIDE Summit, which explored relevant topics through external speakers, which featured Brothers United executive director on health needs and risks in LGBTQ & African-American communities, and a keynote from Josh Driver from Open for Service and selfless.ly.
Thanks for sparking meaningful change here in Central Indiana and around the world. And congratulations on your United Way ELEVATE Award nomination!