“Everyone deserves to feel safe": Meet a Johnson & Johnson leader who’s proud to be an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community
For Pride Month, Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President Ashley McEvoy shares how the company stands behind its LGBTQIA+ employees—and why a strong culture of diversity and inclusion is crucial to successfully finding solutions for the world’s greatest healthcare problems.
Everyone deserves to work at a place that’s open and accepting, and where they feel safe.
And that’s why I’m proud to be an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community.
An ally is someone who may not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex or asexual (LGBTQIA+) but who advocates for an inclusive environment for all. As the executive sponsor of the Open&Out Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Johnson & Johnson, I help to champion a growing network of nearly 5,000 LGBTQIA+ professionals and allies across our operating companies around the world. We work together to support our LGBTQIA+ colleagues and help raise awareness about issues that may affect them in the workplace and beyond.
Why our support is so crucial
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots—a tipping point in the gay liberation movement and an event that set the course for the ongoing fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the U.S. It also sparked the annual Pride Month celebration in June, which honors the positive contributions of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
As we recognize this historic milestone and the progress we’ve made as a society, it’s important to acknowledge that we still have a ways to go in achieving equal rights around the world. In many countries, LGBTQIA+ people face violence and persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The fear and stigma that come with inequality impacts young people the most.
When I started volunteering with The Trevor Project, an organization that promotes suicide prevention efforts, I learned that LGBTQIA+ youth contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of their heterosexual peers. I listened as they shared their stories of feeling unsafe, emotionally and even physically, in their schools, workplaces and homes—places where most of us look for security and connection. This experience opened my eyes to the pain and loneliness that are so common among the LGBTQIA+ community.
It also inspired me to get involved with Open&Out at Johnson & Johnson to help make sure all of our employees can be true to who they are and feel safe and supported at work.
We’ve been recognized as an industry leader by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for our policies, including transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage. These efforts help us retain and attract the best talent, and they’re the right thing to do for our employees.
Putting inclusive policies into practice
I’m proud of the many ways that Johnson & Johnson is creating an environment where everyone feels they belong.
Open&Out is helping lead the way by offering innovative programs to shape our inclusive culture. A training called “Why It Still Matters,” for example, engages allies in a candid dialogue on the best ways to help promote equality for their LGBTQIA+ colleagues and friends. It’s rewarding to see employees everywhere responding to these sessions in a positive way and helping to make Open&Out the fastest-growing ERG at Johnson & Johnson, with 90+ chapters around the globe.
Initiatives like these have led to us being named a DiversityInc Top Company for LGBT Employees. And we’ve been recognized as an industry leader by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, a national report on LGBTQ workplace equality, for our policies, including transgender-inclusive health insurance coverage and same-sex partner benefits. These efforts help us retain and attract the best talent, and they’re the right thing to do for our employees.
But while policies are important, it’s how those policies are put into practice every day that matters. That’s where allies play a crucial role. They help foster a work environment where our LGBTQIA+ colleagues feel safe, heard and embraced. The more voices who speak up for diversity and speak out against harassment and discrimination, the more inclusive our culture becomes.
Employees can be at their best when they are comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. And if we’re going to solve the world’s biggest healthcare challenges, we need diverse perspectives and experiences to fuel meaningful innovations.
Please join me as we stand with the LGBTQIA+ community this month, and always.