Solidarity, Innovation, and Action: How “Pride Lives On” at Booz Allen

Solidarity, Innovation, and Action: How “Pride Lives On” at Booz Allen

Multimedia from this Release

Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 8:00am

CAMPAIGN: Diversity and Inclusion


In early June, as thousands protested in the streets against deep and long-standing injustices in society – spurred by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless other people of color – Booz Allen launched its annual LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in solidarity, fueled by a desperate desire for change.

“This year’s theme, Pride Lives On, expresses the LGBTQ+ community’s legacy of resistance against discrimination and action amidst adversity,” said Michael Dumlao, Booz Allen director of brand and co-chair of the GLOBE+ business resource group (BRG), which for 21 years has advanced the professional development, growth, and visibility of Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ and ally employees.

“Pride is about resilience,” said Dr. Josh Sullivan, Booz Allen executive vice president and GLOBE+ executive sponsor. “Now, with communities exercising their right to protest, it’s also a time that requires all of us to search, to grapple, and to express ourselves together.”

 “Together, we can use the collective ingenuity of our intersectional identities to stand for justice and equality and take responsibility to act against racism and oppression in all forms,” said Crystal Simmons, Senior Lead Cyber Technologist and GLOBE+ co-chair.

A call to action for the LGBTQ+ community and allies

“This year is the 50th anniversary of the Pride Parade,” Dumlao explained, “which began as an annual commemoration of the Stonewall uprising one year after Black and Brown leaders of the LGBTQ+ community rose up to protest systemic oppression and police brutality. LGBTQ+ activists drew from the civil rights movement as a call to action.”

Today, as then, social issues intersect lines of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender identity. For example:

  • In the COVID-19 pandemic, “current data suggest a disproportionate burden of illness and death among racial and ethnic minority groups,” according to the CDC.
  • “Sexual violence disproportionately impacts women of color, immigrant women, LGBTQIA+ women, and disabled women,” and “trans women of color face both physical and sexual violence at an alarmingly high rate,” according to the National Organization of Women.
  • LGBTQ African Americans, “who live at the intersection of racism, homophobia and transphobia,” face a number of critical issues including economic insecurity, violence and harassment, health inequity, and criminal injustice, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Bringing communities together online

Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ community has long worked in collaboration with African American, Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islander groups in recognition of the intersectionality of social issues. Pride 2020 continues this tradition.

Activities for Pride 2020 (all virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic) include “The Coloring of the Rainbow,” a 50-year history of Black LGBTQ+ people in the United States. Given the current environment, “we’re set to have a deeper conversation,” said Simmons.

Also planned are activities that explore and empower allyship—leveraging privilege and power to support others. Other Pride month events include:

  • "Pride Lives On(Line) town hall
  • Code-switching and COVID seminar
  • A women, trans and non-binary connect Pride event
  • “Selma to Stonewall” group discussion
  • World Pride Watch Party

Moving forward with resilience and innovation

Booz Allen’s Pride activities have normally taken place in persons amongst our communities, from marching in parades to recruiting at festivals. COVID-19 forced a quick move online. Yet the team was undaunted. “We work for a firm that’s a leader in tech and innovation,” Simmons pointed out. “It’s our legacy to be resilient.”

Both innovation and resilience are critical parts of the Pride mission, said Dumlao. “Just as it’s important to take care of each other when times are tough, it’s vital to innovate to make sure things move forward and keep going.”

“We must ensure that the essence of Pride, amid the challenges of a global pandemic and the call to action for racial justice, continues on,” Sullivan said. “We must ensure that Pride can signify hope and action, especially for Black Americans who still suffer discrimination.”

Ways to show solidarity and honor Pride’s legacy

To honor Pride’s legacy and show solidarity with communities of color, Sullivan suggested the following:

  • Study history. Listen and be willing to learn from those who experience systemic discrimination.
  • Examine your own biases and how you can use your privilege and platforms to amplify the voices of the unheard. Do so with empathy and kindness.
  • Ensure that colleagues of color and LGBTQ+ friends always feel they can speak freely about all that they embody
  • Accept your colleagues fully and unapologetically—always
  • Volunteer your time or make a small, recurring donation to an organization that’s meaningful to you

Read more about diversity and inclusion and the GLOBE+ BRG at Booz Allen.