by Eli Levin, Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products
As we collectively begin to celebrate Pride Month, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a cast member. When people ask what it’s like to work at Disney, one thing I share is how it truly is a relationship-based company.
Because of this, I have created some of the most meaningful connections of my life here. Many people I met in my first full-time role have become my “chosen family,” a very real and very important part of life for many within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Fast forward 15 years and I have found yet another amazing place to create connections – Disney’s Business Employee Resource Groups (BERGs for short). BERGs are groups formed around a shared identity, interest or pursuit and they bring together employees not only to create amazing human connections, but also to hear authentic voices, gather insights, provide career development, and participate in making a difference in the community. Disney currently has BERGs that represent more than 10 dimensions including Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, Black/African American, Disabilities, Hispanic/Latinx, Jewish, LGBTQIA+, Multicultural, Native American/Indigenous, Veterans/Military and Women – and they are always growing.
Recently, Disney LGBTQIA+ BERGs have been instrumental in partnering with the company to prepare for Pride Month by providing insight, authenticity, and thoughtful representation of the LGBTQIA+ community, connecting to the business in creating new experiences for guests. A great example of this partnership between the company and the BERG is the announcement last month that all profits from the Disney Pride Collection sales through June 30, 2022, will be donated to organizations that support LGBTQIA+ youth and families.
BERG members have also shared insights as teams developed more PRIDE Month food and beverage offerings, Disney PhotoPass and digital offerings, special touches at the resorts, and more. The BERGs were instrumental in helping to ensure authentic representation, especially around the use of the progressive pride flag colors in topiaries and photo walls that will be on display all month long as a beautiful way to show support and love to all. (More news to come on these, so keep a lookout to the Disney Parks Blog for more info.)
These enhancements in our parks to celebrate Pride Month are important to demonstrate the importance of showing people that they belong, that they matter, and that Disney is a safe space to visit. Ensuring that members of the LGBTQIA+ community are part of those decisions and discussions is critical to ensuring that the offerings are authentic and thoughtful.
And the work will not end here. Last year, the BERGs were a driving force behind the addition of the Inclusion Key. The introduction of the Inclusion Key and accompanying changes to the Disney Look have been game changers in creating an environment in which everyone feels welcome.
Looking ahead, Pride will not just be celebrated during the month of June but will continue to be celebrated all year-round at Disney.
So, stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog to celebrate our collective progress, to see our commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community 365 days a year, and to read stories highlighting our cast and their connections to each other and to Disney!