Diversity & Inclusion

“I’m here, and you’re not alone.” Employees share allyship during Pride Month.

When Charla Isbell saw a Facebook post about the Free Mom Hugs organization in 2018, she felt an immediate connection to the cause and ordered a T-shirt to wear to Tulsa’s next Pride Parade.

Since then, she’s hugged hundreds at parades and other events.

“And in virtually every case, I said very little,” said Isbell, a senior HR business partner and ally of Williams’ LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. “The shirt was the invitation and those who wanted a hug gravitated to me.”

The response reaffirmed her desire to make sure everyone she encounters feels love and acceptance.

“I knew it was the right thing to do to be there for someone who needed that good feeling that one gets from a mom hug because I wanted every person to know they are good, they are enough and they matter.”

Trevor Waechter, also an HR business partner and a member of the LGBTQ+ ERG, says he also wants to ensure others — at Williams and elsewhere –feel valued and represented.

“I want to create meaningful relationships with peers where I can bring my whole self to work, which includes openly sharing about my life with my same-sex partner,” he said.

“I hope to be a resource for LGBTQ+ employees and allies, because ‘I’m here and you are not alone.’ I’ve been gifted with an amazing job at an amazing company and I want others to have a similar experience.”

Waechter says showing allyship is as simple as learning and using an individual’s correct pronouns. Pronouns affirm gender identities and create safe spaces by referring to people in the way that feels most accurate to them.

Both Waechter and Isbell also are looking forward to participating again in the Tulsa Pride Parade, which is planned for October this year. Isbell, of course, will be wearing her Free Mom Hugs T-shirt.

“If I can make someone in the community feel a little better or a little safer if only for a moment, a free mom hug is a priceless investment that I am proud to make and honored to give,” she said.

The ERG has several employee events planned during June, including a panel discussion on interconnectedness, an Out and Equal webinar about inclusive workplaces and participation in the Houston Pride Parade.

Read more about Diversity and Inclusion at Williams.