OPEN resources, events, and campaigns are meant to empower the LGBTQ+ community.
By Alex Chan | June 2021
For the Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN), valuing diversity and inclusion goes beyond making a statement once a year for Pride month.
As an employee resource group, OPEN serves as an engine for raising awareness, increasing opportunities, and forming strategic partnerships that empower LGBTQ+ employees. Throughout Oracle’s locations worldwide, OPEN currently has more than 3,000 members and more than 40 chapters for employees to participate in.
“The people who started OPEN knew that this wasn’t going to be a sort of social club,” says Paul Boyd, global executive sponsor for OPEN and vice president of user experience for Oracle Health Sciences. “They set a vision for an organization that would really support Oracle’s goals by investing in our most important resource, the people.”
Boyd recalls when OPEN only knew of four out vice presidents in all of Oracle. Now the group has built a global board with representation from each of the major markets. “It’s really grown, including in some places where it was a bit of a game changer. Seeing a pride flag unfurled over the side of an Oracle building in India was an important moment for the LGBTQ+ community in India,” says Boyd.
OPEN has provided support and education to Oracle employees over the years through activities such as LGBTQ+ learning plans, unconscious bias trainings, the “Pronouns Matter” trainings, offering information on how to access services for any issues, making recruitment efforts less exclusionary, and partnering with Oracle customers at conferences.
During last year’s Pride Month, OPEN rolled out its Belonging Campaign to engage Oracle executives in ways they can demonstrate support for the LGBTQ+ community. One action item includes having VPs sign on attestations stating that members of the community are welcome at Oracle.
Boyd also emphasized the importance of staying updated on how Oracle employees in different parts of the world are impacted by government and policy in order to gauge how to best offer support. “Imagine you have an employee that has all the knowledge of how Oracle and the business works, but now they are a flight risk because they or their family don’t feel safe where they are,” Boyd says.
Among Oracle’s presence in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), several countries in those areas have only recently begun to take the first steps in adopting LGBTQ+ rights. For example, in 2020 Costa Rica became the first in Central America to legalize same-sex marriage, and the previous year a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Taiwan made the self-ruled island the first place in Asia to legally allow same-sex couples to marry. In 2018, India’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled Section 377, a colonial-era law that outlawed same-sex relations, as unconstitutional.
“An important thing to note is that Pride is a celebration and a great time of year to feel recognized, but it’s also a big comfort for LGBTQ+ people.”
Despite these advances, the global LGBTQ+ community still faces discrimination in many of the markets where Oracle does business. “There are a number of countries still where being out is a crime,” says Andrew Meaney, colead of OPEN in EMEA and a data lead in Sales Development Insights. “But even if a country’s policies and laws state one thing, Oracle’s policies will do the best they can to protect an employee. We can ensure there’s no LGBTQ+ harassment within Oracle and push to make sure you cannot be fired at Oracle for being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, regardless of what country you’re in.”
Meaney added that one resource they have worked on includes travel advisories for employees conducting work abroad to inform them of any political unrest in their destinations and to provide health and safety guidance.
In an effort to build community across the Oracle’s workforce, OPEN also welcomes employees to events such as “24 Hours of Pride,” a global webcast starting June 24 that will connect Oracle LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies worldwide. Programming for “24 Hours of Pride” will involve education awareness, entertainment, and other activities. The event will kick off at 8:00 p.m. PT on June 24 in the JAPAC region with a welcome from OPEN board cochairs and OPEN JAPAC community leaders.
Throughout the night and day, there will be sessions dedicated to different discussions such as the history of Pride, intersectionality, and how to support LGBTQ+ relatives.
“There’s nothing that would be daunting for an ally to join,” Meaney says. “We want people to know if they feel like they know nothing, they can come to this session and learn something. We have a whole part of the organization dedicated to allies as well, and we are here for allies just as much.”
During the event, there will also be fun activities such as Pride bingo, dancing, and yoga. So far, approximately 1,500 employees globally are expected to attend.
“An important thing to note is that Pride is a celebration and a great time of year to feel recognized, but it’s also a big comfort for LGBTQ+ people,” says Meaney. “It’s a time to think back about those who have really laid down their lives for the freedoms that we now have.”
“OPEN isn’t about just putting a Pride logo up and saying the job is done,” Boyd says. “It's about making a statement and then authentically walking the walk. We truly value diversity as a business resource.”
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