Sometimes allyship is simply listening.
For Brian Hlavinka, one of the executive sponsors of Williams’ LGBTQ+ employee resource group and a member of the D&I Council, being an ally is not just about solving problems.
“For me, it’s about being present, listening and learning,” he said. “How can I be someone to talk to and ask questions? How can I make sure that people can be themselves? What can I share with other leaders? Because I ultimately think creating understanding and inclusion is what leads to productivity and happiness.”
Hlavinka said embracing differences among all people brings out the best in each of us and provides an environment where each person can achieve their full potential.
Marcus Rice, a member of the ERG, said allyship is something he looks to pay forward in his involvement with other employee resource groups at Williams.
“Participating in ERGs gives me insight into other perspectives and experiences,” he said. “I’m always trying to find ways to hear other voices as much as possible because a lot of people have done a lot of work for me to be able to come to work and have a sense of belonging. And I want it to be even better for the ones who are coming up after me.”
Allison Jenkins, another member of the LGBTQ+ ERG, said she joined as an ally because she cares about making a safe space where everyone can thrive.
“I think being safe means everyone is able to be their authentic self, to feel accepted exactly as they are and not have to fit any certain mold,” she said.
“I’ve made really valuable and lasting friendships being in our ERG that I would not have probably made outside of that,” Jenkins said. “It’s been valuable for me to see different points of view and become an advocate. And often that means just listening and learning.”
Allyship is a theme of the LGBTQ+ ERG’s activities for Pride Month.
The ERG kicked off Pride Month by partnering with the Women of Williams ERG for a social event, and all employees are invited to learn about allyship in a session with Will Davis, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program manager and an Equal Employment Opportunity specialist at NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.
Additionally, employees, allies and families are invited to join Williams’ participation in community Pride Month parades in Tulsa and Houston.
ERG members said Pride Month is a time to recognize the progress made by the LGBTQ community and bring attention to the work necessary to enable full equality.