Lilly Pride is a two-time ELEVATE finalist in the Employee Resource Group category. WOW! For our committee, their back-to-back nomination signifies an extraordinary achievement and there was no question that Pride should be honored for their consistency and excellence in programming and relationship building.
This past year, Pride’s efforts have focused on fostering awareness for those at the margins, specifically LGBTQ youth. They have cultivated new and stewarded existing partnerships with strategic community allies, including: Indiana Youth Group (IYG), Trinity Haven, BU Wellness Network, the Damien Center, Indiana Pride of Color, Indy Pride Inc., Lambda Legal, the Starfish Initiative, the Joseph Maley Foundation and the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis.
“With the right support, LGBTQ youth will be the next generation of young leaders in central Indiana.”
We couldn’t agree more. We sat down for a chat with members of Lilly Pride’s leadership team, Jonathan Scott – Chair, Megan Klopchin – Community Engagement Chair, and Ileana Monts de Oca – Pride Advisor and member of the Global Diversity & Inclusion team at Eli Lilly and Company.
Q: Hi team! Welcome back to ELEVATE! Congrats. Tell us what you’ve been up to since we spoke last.
A: [Jonathan] It’s been an exceptional year! We’ve had great success with our current and future partnerships – specifically to support LGBTQ youth – whom we hope will populate our workforce at Eli Lilly and Company in the future. Internally, we’ve been working alongside other ERGs, representing a diverse and inclusive set of backgrounds, races and ethnicities, as well as of all generations.
Q: This year ELEVATE’s impact theme focuses on safe, affordable and equitable housing in Central Indiana. I know this issue is at the heart of your work with community partner, Trinity Haven. Let’s talk about that.
A: Pride Trinity Haven were fast friends. Through our association with Indiana Youth Group (IYG) and other connections, we’ve been able to support Trinity Haven’s efforts in a number of ways. At the 2019 Pride Summit, our ERG partnered with their outstanding executive director, Jenni White, on an external keynote speaking role in the program. This served to raise awareness about Indiana’s first transitional housing unit for LGBTQ youth, set to open in the first half of 2020. Trinity Haven and 12 more Central Indiana partners in the LGBTQ space presented in the event’s community partner showcase. Pride members’ year-end celebration also featured Trinity Haven as a recipient of donated goods and services, with a close ongoing relationship planned for 2020 and beyond. Honestly, I can’t stop thinking about the organization and how proud I am of this partnership.
Q: You’ve talked about the importance of supporting LGBTQ Youth. How does housing insecurity affect them, specifically.
A: [Megan] This is another reason Trinity Haven is such a key partner for us. There’s nothing like it in our community. It will bring a sense of stability to individuals who desperately need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance. Many of these youth are coming from the foster care system or from homes where their family wasn’t welcoming or understanding. Trinity Haven utilizes a volunteer base – which we are proud to be a part of – to better the lives of youth and make sure they are in stable housing.
Q: Through ELEVATE we hope to educate attendees about the misperceptions of what it means to be homeless. Based on your experience, what should our audience know?
A: [Megan] Homelessness is a wide spectrum – not only by demographic and age – but also the circumstances that caused them to be homeless, or how long they’ve experienced homelessness. Most people think about homelessness and it conjures images of someone chronically without a place to live – the person on Monument Circle or sleeping under a bridge. But, it’s important to think about those experiencing housing instability on a short-term basis. In our work with LGBTQ youth obviously we see a lot of individuals who are couch surfing or sleeping in their car. Homelessness is a much more diverse issue than what people think.
Q: We are also curious about your upcoming partnership with the Joseph Maley Foundation (JMF).
A: [Jonathan] This is an awesome example of multiple Lilly ERGs at work. We have partnered with Lilly’s enAbleUS ERG – a group that supports employees living and working with disabilities. JMF offers curriculum about disabilities / different abilities in numerous Indianapolis schools. Now we have an opportunity ahead to collaborate on and then incorporate LGBTQ-inclusive considerations for students, with stories to be shared, even through puppet presentations, about kids who might be LGBTQ and differently-abled. Our goal is to reach kids when they’re younger and teach them about inclusion. We are all in this one life together and can co-exist by just being good, kind and respectful. Later in life, in the workplace, or even in school they’ll encounter situations where they don’t always see eye-to-eye with others. That’s okay. We must celebrate diversity of thought and experience.
Q: Ileana, from your perspective, share with us a little more about the value of ERG’s at Eli Lilly and Company. How do they lend themselves to a more well-rounded employee engagement strategy?
A: [Ileana] I’m very proud of the Diversity and Inclusion work we are doing at Lilly. It has moved from being a business imperative to core to our strategy. What I mean is, we have a common purpose to health and medicine for people around the world. It begins with the insights to those patients by our employees. When employees feel that they belong, it strengthens our community. So, if you are LGBTQ, and come to work for the organization, you’ll want to share in that. And, it’s about so much more than work, it can be where to shop, live and feel safe and welcome. It is inspiring to know our senior leaders support this type of engagement.
Q: How have you seen Pride connect to the greater community?
A: [Jonathan] Of course through our partnerships, but also through our focus on LGBTQ youth. This is integral to our mission. We want youth to grow up and be confident and at home in their own identities – whatever that means for them – and whether they come to work at Eli Lilly and Company one day, or contribute in another way.
Q: Share three words to describe Lilly Pride
A: [Ileana] Inspiring. Conviction. Courage.