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June 10, 2020

Celebrating progress and recognizing the work that still needs to be done

  • , life at waymo

June marks LGBTQ+ Pride Month, an annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities, relationships, and allyship. There’s no one-size-fits-all way to celebrate Pride -- it means something different to each individual. Some view it as a holiday and many of us use Pride to focus on the work that still needs to be done. At Waymo, we will celebrate Pride in several ways throughout the month and also carry it with us throughout the year, led by our LGTBQ employee resource group (ERG), the Rainbownauts.

We launched our ERG last year to advocate for inclusive corporate policy and LGBTQ representation at work. Many Waymonauts, or Waymo employees, also seek Rainbownauts out as a way to make friends and find community. We feel fortunate to work at a place where the leadership and culture allows us to live our most authentic lives, and we want to do good with this opportunity.

If you’re looking to start an ERG at your company, we recommend finding allies for your group at the executive level to garner meaningful support. For example, our president went to our chief executive officer and our chief people officer to ask for their support, advocate for policies and benefits important to our community, and discussed ways to positively impact culture and LGBTQ employee recruitment. They were enthusiastically supportive of our suggestions, listened patiently to our message, and demonstrated allyship in our journey to support our employees.

In recognition of Pride this year, the Rainbownauts, want to take a moment to highlight one moment in our history, and the significance that moment, like the one going on across our world right now, had on fighting for our equality as LGBTQ+ identifying people.

Src: The New York Public Library Digital Collections, Diana Davies

Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, became a battleground for LGBTQ+ civil rights after police raided the bar on June 28, 1969. Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen and gay rights activist, stood up against the police that first night, which motivated other LGBTQ+ community members and allies to unite and stand their ground against the injustice.
Imagine this: You’re in a space you feel safest and surrounded by people who see you as you see yourself. In an equal and just world, this would be everywhere—our home, parks, classrooms, and stores. In the 1960s, this wasn’t a reality. Gay-owned/friendly establishments were few and far between. We look back on the Stonewall Riots as a watershed moment for LGBTQ+ civil rights, but will we look back at the events going on around the country today with the same recognition that something wasn’t right and needed to be addressed appropriately? As an ERG, we aim to support an environment that is inviting, welcoming and safe for everyone. While many have the privilege of not experiencing blatant racism or the effects of implicit bias themselves, the same can’t be said for our Black colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family.

Being Black in America isn’t easy, and the realities faced by trans people of color paint an even darker picture. In 2019, the Human Rights Campaign reported there had been at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-confirming people in the US, most of which were Black transgender women. This year, there have been at least 12 that were fatally shot or killed by other violent means. As we continue to read the news and watch the videos pour into our feed, we can’t help but feel an obligation to speak out against the continued attacks against the Black community, just like so many spoke out decades ago on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights. In line with our Waymo value: “We’re Stronger Together,” we unequivocally stand with the Black community in their efforts to bring attention to the gross injustice in our country.

Because Pride also aligns with National Safety Month, Rainbownauts will bring attention to some of the safety concerns of the LGBTQ community. One way Waymonauts as individuals can offer safety is by becoming allies and either speaking up for or speaking to someone else if they hear or see something that doesn't align with our values, including homophobia, sexism, and racism.

Part of what drives acceptance is exposure to these ideas and exposure to great people living their authentic lives, but there is no safe way to do that first without existing openly and being vulnerable. During June and throughout the year, we’ll continue our work by offering ally training, promoting nonprofits and charities that work to solve safety-related issues for LGBTQ people, fostering a sense of community, and guiding Waymo to be the best it can.