ARC places a strong emphasis on fostering inclusion and a sense of belonging. Our affinity groups allow employees to connect based on shared experiences and interests. Among these groups is the ARC Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG).
ARC’s Director of Payments, Jennifer Watkins, leads our Pride ERG and was recently interviewed by Sarah Shields from the People & Culture team. They discussed Jennifer’s vision for the group in 2023 and beyond.
Q: Why is recognizing and celebrating Pride Month so important to you, particularly this year?
A: Historically, the LGBTQ+ and minority communities have had many ups and downs. Racial, political and cultural divides constantly shift and fluctuate. Through all of it, there have been some extremely difficult and terrifying times for the most affected people. But I think today, politically, it can be particularly easy to get distracted by the “hot issues” presented by people in power.
Today, scare tactics revolve around the trans community and how they should or shouldn’t be included in society. Trans people are being targeted in very real and scary ways. Targeting people who seem “different” doesn’t just start and stop on the political platform either. Books are being removed from schools; curricula through high school are being severely restricted; medical professionals are losing their jobs.
I think it’s essential that this year we focus on educating our communities and our ARC colleagues about trans people and exposing them to individuals within the trans community. With education comes compassion – compassion and empathy are the most important things the trans community needs right now.
Q: Tell us about the ARC Pride ERG. What has the group been working on, and what should we expect to see from the group in June 2023?
A: ARC is making significant changes this year regarding supporting LGBTQ+ equality. We’re looking at educational opportunities and training for all employees and updating our contractor policies to ensure the companies we interact with support LGBTQ+ equality. We’ll also show more public support for the LGBTQ+ community when anti-LGBTQ+ laws are implemented.
There are many opportunities to participate with our Pride ERG this year and a few special events to keep an eye out for in June. Earlier in the month, ARC was invited to join ATPCO for a special guest speaking event, where [they hosted] my wife, Amanda Simpson, vice president for research and technology and head of sustainability at Airbus. Amanda [shared] more about her experience coming out and what she’s done for more than 20 years to gain acceptance at work and in society as a trans person.
Later in the month, the ARC Pride ERG will host an internal virtual open house event, where we’ll have a chance to reintroduce ourselves and talk a bit about what we’ve been working on lately and what we hope to accomplish in the long term.
Q: What are your plans for the ARC Pride ERG for the rest of the year?
A: Given the climate we’re in right now, I think it’s essential to hear from people within the trans community. Pride is about celebrating everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+, but right now, I think it’s critical to show that trans people live lives just like the rest of us. For example, I have a lot of trans friends who are military members committed to serving our country. To have trans people come to ARC and speak about their experiences would be a fantastic opportunity for everyone to learn.
Education will be a big focus for us in 2023, ensuring that our employees know they can be open and free to be themselves. And that’s the same message we want to share for potential new hires considering joining ARC. I’d also love to see our Pride group and other ARC employees attending Pride-related events in their communities to learn more about being supportive allies at home and in the workplace.
Thank you to Sarah and Jennifer for sharing ARC’s commitment to LGBTQ+ issues and providing an inclusive work environment.
At ARC, we stand proud and committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community. We are dedicated to promoting equality, educating our communities and protecting against discrimination in June and each day of the year. We strive to create a workplace where everyone feels valued and respected. We're committed to allyship within our company and beyond. For more about ARC’s culture, please visit the About ARC section of our website.