As we come to the end of June and the dedicated Pride Month, we wanted to share a few ways we’ve been working hard to show our colleagues and clients in the LGBTQIA+ community that we value them for exactly who they are.
Out On the Town
This month Cambridge Trust was thrilled to participate in two Pride parades, one in Boston and one in New Hampshire. Joining these events helped the Bank connect more deeply with our community while having a whole lot of fun.
We got to see our colleagues in new and different ways and make sure our neighbors know we see them, support them, and always want them to feel comfortable with our team.
“This was by far, THE BEST Boston Pride I have ever attended! Thank
you to members of the CT Pride Alliance, family and friends for showing up, standing proud and embracing the moment. You ROCK!” – Dina Scianna, Sr. Vice President-Director of Community Partnerships and Development
Building a More Supportive Culture
Our Bank has many policies in place to advance diversity and over 100 members in our LGBTQIA+ coalition. To learn more about our ongoing Corporate Responsibility efforts, please see our Impact Report.
But this year, during Pride Month, we wanted to push ourselves to examine how we work and how we could improve our ever-evolving culture and operations.
Towards this goal, we were honored to welcome Cheryl Katon to speak directly with the Executive team, as well as the broader Bank team, and invited her as a guest speaker to the Bank's CT Pride Alliance Speaker Series. Cheryl is the Vice President of Resource Development and Donor Engagement at Fenway Health, the Chair for Pride in our Workplace, and an outspoken trans woman.
Living a Bi-Gendered Life
Cheryl has known for a long time she was a woman, but personal and professional factors meant that she often presented as a man and considered herself ‘bi-gender’ for much of her early adult life. It was a long process to become the confident woman she is today.
In her conversations with our team, she even remembered childhood trips to the library where she’d seek out any book with slivers of information about being trans. But afraid someone would come around and see what she was up to, she also pulled out ‘decoy’ books about less controversial topics to pretend to read in case she was caught.
Today, information, support, and resources are thankfully far more prevalent, but many barriers persist for nonbinary people. Here are a few of the most helpful and actionable tips Cheryl shared with us from her illuminating stories.
The Role of Banks in Transitioning
Cheryl highlighted the three main ways one transitions in our society, socially, legally, and medically.
For Cheryl, the social transition was actually pretty straight forward in coordination with the medical transition. But the legal transition presented several difficult and often mind-numbing challenges.
Banks have an incredible and unique role to play in this legal process. All the important life documentation like mortgages, college loans for your kids, and more needs to be adjusted. She recounted spending hours on the phone just trying to get through to someone who could help her.
So, as part of the banking community, we can pick up that call and say yes, we can help you with that; let’s do this. It will help a nonbinary individual feel validated and gain confidence during a lengthy and challenging legal process.
How to Be a Good Ally
How to be a good ally is a recurring question with countless answers. But one small change everyone can make is adding your pronouns wherever possible. Your email signature, your business card, and your social and LinkedIn profiles make it obvious.
Why? Because it normalizes the question for people that need it to feel more normal. It makes it, not a big deal or political statement, just a simple fact about who you are.
Around the Office
Reducing the use of pronouns in general conversation will help cultivate a more welcoming informal team environment. For instance, refer to husbands and wives as spouses or partners or even tell stories about weekends without identifying the characters by pronoun but rather by name or they/them.
Cheryl particularly highlighted how these linguistic changes could feel small but have a big impact.
More Than Performative
As Cheryl noted, “You can slap a rainbow sticker wherever, but the lived back-and-forth language and practical implications are important.”
Cambridge Trust has built diversity into our manuals, processes, and company procedures. And we still work hard every day to learn and evolve with our communities and ensure we’re a welcoming environment for every client and colleague.
We are grateful for Cheryl’s time and open conversation and happy to have participated in Pride events in the Cambridge Trust communities. By challenging ourselves to keep learning and exploring, we can become an even more welcoming team. We look forward to continuing to support our LGBTQIA+ colleagues and clients. Happy Pride Month!
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