Throughout the month of June, in celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month, ZSers came together to work on a very special project. Natalie, an Evanston principal and leader within Pride@ZS, our LGBTQ and ally resource group, helped connect ZS offices around the world with The Love Wall Project—a massive multi-city initiative designed to spread messages of inclusivity and tolerance by confronting the traditional role walls play in our society.
While walls can divide, restrict and exclude, a love wall does the opposite. It’s a platform for connection, free expression and inclusivity. ZSers contributed their unique interpretations of diversity, messages of tolerance and inspirational quotes. Together, the pieces composed a mosaic, creating a collective image of a global ZS community.
Toronto’s office introduced their love wall with a rainbow-themed Pride Month party. The office gathered for a TED Talk by Ash Beckham: "We're all hiding something. Let's find the courage to open up.” As they discussed the TED Talk, ZSers munched on tacos (it was Tuesday after all), as well as cookies decorated with Pride-related word submitted by ZSers.
ZSers in the San Diego office came together for a “lunch and learn” session where members of their local Pride@ZS chapter shared a presentation on the history of the LGBTQ community and Pride Month. Following a short video, some ZSers bravely shared their own personal “coming out” stories. They offered advice to fellow officemates on how to be a good listener when a friend or colleague chooses to “come out” about something that makes him or her vulnerable—whether it’s related to sexual orientation, or anything else. On July 14, ZSers will attend the San Diego Pride Parade together and celebrate at a local restaurant afterward.
Tiny treats and trivia were recurring themes during Pride Month. In both the San Francisco and Chicago offices, ZSers were invited to satisfy their sweet tooth while learning more about LGBTQ history.
Reem, one of the organizers of Chicago’s event, said the activities evolved into positive discussions about inclusiveness, diversity and how ZS supports an open and comfortable environment. “Someone asked, ‘What can we do to be better allies to Pride@ZS?’,” she explained. “The answer is simple: just be there. Be a part of the activities. Show up to events, coffee chats and be open to learning.”
Both San Francisco locations joined forces to raise awareness—and over $300 in donations—for the San Mateo Pride Center through our ZS Cares program. The local organization provides access to care, social events and networking for the LGBTQ community and allies.
ZSers in Evanston gathered on a Friday afternoon for cupcakes and happy hour, while adding finishing touches to their love walls. Evanston ZSers submitted pictures that represented joy and love—such as those of their family or friends—to add to their two love walls, too. The tail end of the Friday afternoon passed quickly as colleagues mingled and chatted, taking the time to both relax at the end of a busy week and celebrate the LGBTQ community.
The next day, a mix of Evanston and Chicago ZSers joined to participate in the Proud to Run 5K and 10K race, an annual event that celebrates LGBTQ pride in a healthy way and raises funds to support the community of the greater Chicago area. ZS was happy to support the event as a corporate sponsor and ZSers of Chicagoland, along with family and friends, walked and ran in the race. Strategy Insights and Planning Associate Jillian even placed third amongst women runners at Proud to Run, making ZS extra proud that day.
“I’m proud of the support ZSers are showing. It reaffirms our culture. We want everyone to feel included and able to bring their whole self to ZS,” said Evanston Office Managing Principal Kelly, who also attended. After the race, the group gathered for a well-deserved celebratory brunch.