Pride Month 2022
This June, Axon will participate in Pride parades and other external celebrations, such as the Seattle Mariners Pride Game and a Phoenix Mercury game. They are also focused on internal team building and educational opportunities, including hosting an Axon Allies brunch, delivering Safezone training, and screening the documentary, The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.
Pride Month is just one way to both educate team members on LGBTQIA+ issues and build community. Here are three tips Axon Allies shared with us about how they foster a safe place all year long:
1. Provide Support to LGBTQIA+ Individuals
First and foremost, the role of an employee resource group is to provide support to identifying members on relevant matters to the community. Both Shawn and Aimee offer mentoring for LGBTQIA+ individuals as colleagues, friends and leaders. This can be formal and informal.
Aimee, Shawn and other Allies leaders help people feel comfortable being out and proud in the office. New members of Axon can find it hard to decide how vulnerable to be. If someone wants to know how to mention their partner, work in their pronouns or learn to have confidence and authenticity in the workplace, Shawn and Aimee welcome these conversations.
Another clear focus area for the Allies group is philanthropy. For example, Axon Allies raises donations for Queermas with One n Ten, which ensures young folx don’t go without gifts during the holiday season. The Allies group also participates in food drives for St. Mary's food bank.
2. Provide company-wide training and foster an “ally” community
Axon allies also shares lessons and offers informative sessions in the workplace meant to help educate anyone interested in learning more. Shawn’s goal with the educational line-up is to “improve on the available information about LGBTQIA+ history, rights and related conversations.” One recent educational opportunity was focused on the significance of May 17th to the LGBTQIA+ community.
May 17th is known as the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT). The date was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Informative sessions are available to every member of Axon, and the Axon Allies group is ready to answer questions for allies just as quickly as they are for LGBTQIA+ members. Those with questions or who want to know when the next general info session is scheduled, please reach out to Aimee or Shawn, or join the #Axon_Allies Slack channel.
Axon Allies deliberately focuses on building an allyship community. This can be as simple as putting one’s pronouns on email signatures, Slack handles and in your Zoom screen name. In doing so, allies are participating in creating safe spaces for everyone to be open with their pronouns. Normalizing pronouns is part of building a supportive community, which is why Axon encourages employees as well as customers to identify their pronouns. Axon is always looking for more ways best practices can be implemented into their products and materials so that safe spaces are further extended to their global network of customers and communities.
3. Demonstrate leadership to earn buy-in and support for all
Axon leadership and a meaningful investment in supporting Axon Allies has been clear from the start of affinity groups. They not only fully support employee participation in affinity groups, most importantly, they are visibly present at Allies events. Founder and CEO Rick Smith personally joined Axon Allies at 2019 Phoenix Pride and C-suite leaders are consistently active for Axon Allies lunches and on our Slack channels.
Both Aimee and Shawn noted supervisor support for their volunteer roles as Axon Allies leaders. Shawn, in particular, noted that his supervisor, Amanda King, Vice President of Software Services, is the executive sponsor of the Allies group and she makes sure Shawn has time to stay involved. He describes this level of support, “despite busy schedules, there is always a way to collaborate and coordinate; to continue to make room for and protect the work of Axon Allies and grow the safe space they promote.”