How Publicis Groupe’s BRG Égalité Brought Pride to the World

By LGBT+ Advancing Archives
Cover image for  article: How Publicis Groupe’s BRG Égalité Brought Pride to the World

What Is a BRG? CEO Action describes them this way: "BRGs (Business Resource Groups) provide employees the opportunity to enhance cultural awareness, develop leadership skills, and network with colleagues across business units at all levels, including senior leadership. BRG members are afforded opportunities to attend specialized training around leadership, mentoring, career development and other topics as identified by BRG members. These self-governed groups are comprised of individuals who come together based on similar interests or experiences. BRG participation is voluntary and open to all employees who are interested in and support the objectives of the BRG, regardless of their origin or background."

What Makes Égalité Different?

Égalité (French for Equality and pronounced eh-gah-lee-tay) is Publicis Groupe's business resource group (BRG) for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) professionals along with their allies. The group is committed to enhancing the company's reputation as an employer of choice for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies by promoting equality in the workplace, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and helping to develop leaders who can elevate our clients' brands within the hearts and minds of the LGBTQ+ community. Égalité's programming is focused around four pillars: Advocacy, Education, Community Outreach and Business Development. It is one of Publicis Groupe's oldest and longest-standing BRGs, with 1,500+ members and 22 chapters.Two of Égalité's leaders, Maranda Gorr-Diaz (she/her/hers), Global Co-Chair of Égalité and Supervisor at Starcom USA, and Jenn Renoe (she/her/hers), Associate Media Director, Publicis Health Media, were named in the OUTstanding 2020 Top 100 LGBT+ Future Leaders list.

“It’s important to note the 'B' in BRG," says Geraldine White (she/her/hers), Chief Diversity Officer, Publicis Groupe U.S. "These groups are very much a part of our business, and they play a key role in our DE&I strategy and authoring the future of our work. In some cases, our BRG leads are also core client contacts/partners and are helping to shape client strategies and uphold our commitments throughout the business and across the industry. In this way, we're truly able to take a 'workplace to marketplace' approach when it comes to pulling DE&I across everything that we do, whether that's making an impact for our talent, or helping our clients connect with diverse audiences in more relevant ways.”

In an exclusive MediaVillage interview with LGBT+ Advancing columnist Kryss Shane, Égalité global co-leads Maranda Gorr-Diaz and Alicia Case (she/her/hers), Vice President, Head of Community Success, Engagement, & Marketing, Marcel.ai, shared stories of their time with Égalité. Each spoke of initially feeling cautious in how they expressed themselves at work and still getting to know themselves. In the time spent with Égalité, one made a self-discovery about her sexuality, while the other prides herself in being so clear in her sense of self that she now mentors new Égalité members who are where she once was in their self-exploration processes.

Égalité's "Pride Inside"

Like so many companies, Publicis Groupe had to pivot when the pandemic began … including in their plans for June 2020 Pride. They harnessed the power of its global AI platform Marcel.ai to invite employees across markets to submit ideas for projects spanning client campaigns, cultural initiatives, philanthropic work and more. A globally fielded open brief led to the creation of "Pride Inside," a celebratory program developed and activated by Égalité across chapters in Seattle and London. Pride Inside, the winning idea, is a digital celebration intended to bring the rich tradition of Pride into people’s homes across the world.

Last year's inaugural event drew more than 2,000 participants from 50 countries around the globe to a diverse mix of classes, panels, activities and digital dance parties representing a wide swath of the community, with major highlights including a powerful keynote from Amber Hikes, Chief Equity & Inclusion Officer, ACLU, and a "Happy Half Hour" with RuPaul’s Drag Race superstar, Peppermint.

Case and Gorr-Diaz also noted that a key consideration in the programming was ensuring it struck the right tone amid the rampant social injustice that occurred following the murder of George Floyd. "We stripped out a lot of glitter, so to speak, and made sure that we had some more salient and culturally resonant programming to strike the right tone and honor the moment." As part of this effort, Gorr-Diaz continued, "There was also a significant focus on mental health and creating an environment where all participants felt that they had psychological safety and space to honor their identities authentically."

When asked what makes Pride Inside special, Case and Gorr-Diaz were quick to point out the benefits that came with being forced to pivot from their usual Pride activities, sharing that they were initially nervous that the pandemic would cancel the festivities. "This could have been someone's first Pride,” said Gorr-Diaz.

Case agreed, adding that "an online event actually made Pride more inclusive, offering easier access for so many. It also helped make this Pride even more equitable, allowing everyone to join in, no matter their circumstances -- most importantly for people who may be living in countries with anti-LGBTQ+ laws whose only way to see a bit of rainbow was through their computer screen." Pride Inside lost its physical space, but gained an online space welcoming to everyone without them having to worry about navigating bathrooms, parking, accessibility, dietary needs, crowd concerns and other deterrents.

Given that Pride Inside was so accessible, it also spread the word of the role of the BRG, helping to later set up additional chapters in Poland, Italy, Australia, Brazil and Latin America following last year’s program.

"What I think is most exciting about Pride Inside is how the programming is integrated directly with Marcel.ai to enable maximum reach and impact across our talent network, ensuring that all of our people have access and can join in to support and celebrate our LGBTQIA+ communities," said White. "It's also exciting to see other BRGs join in and support the events."

How Your Company Can Follow Égalité’s Lead

Some companies see these types of success stories and immediately want to start their own BRG. Others see them but think that the effort to create their own is too great. Luckily, neither has to be a roadblock for your company. As White explains, "We are constantly encouraging cross-BRG support and integration in the interest of celebrating intersectionality and fostering recognition of all identities.”

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