Coming out as your authentic self as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, Two Spirit or more (LGBTQ2S+) community is an important and powerful moment. National Coming Out Day on October 11 recognized that moment and provided us the opportunity to reflect upon those who cannot yet come out because of fear of discrimination, harassment, rejection and even violence. This year’s National Coming Out Day held particular importance for Suncor as it marked the official introduction of Prism – our LGBTQ2S+ employee inclusion network.
“When someone comes out, it’s an acknowledgement of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and it’s a deeply personal and emotional process,” says Steph Hansen, one of Prism’s co-leads. “The same can be said for standing up Prism. Alongside other Suncor LGBTQ2S+ employees and our allies, we worked through what we want Prism to stand for and look like and what we want to contribute to Suncor’s culture and business objectives, and we’re excited to now be able to formally support our community here at work.”
Prism is enterprise-wide and shares the focus of all our employee inclusion networks – to foster an inclusive and respectful culture and drive positive change in our workforce – while also creating a safe space for people who identify as LGBTQ2S+. “We want Prism members to include those who are LGBTQ2S+ and those who are allies. Together we’ll have the opportunity to learn from each other, to better understand what makes an inclusive and respectful workplace and how to achieve it, as well as access learning opportunities, discussions, experiences and peer support,” explains Brent Buechler, Prism’s co-lead.
Brent and Steph reflect with a smile on choosing the name Prism. “Thanks to a brainstorm session and a wonderful suggestion by an ally, we came up with Prism,” says Steph. “When white light passes through a prism, it reveals all the colours of the rainbow. We think of this as revealing your true, authentic self. And when we feel comfortable and can genuinely express ourselves, we live a happier, more productive life.”
Prism stands up alongside several other inclusion networks at Suncor focused on creating a sense of belonging and community for a specific demographic.
“Our employee inclusion networks are critical partners in creating a workplace where everyone feels safe, included, respected, trusted and supported,” says Ken Saunders, VP, exploration with Upstream, Prism’s executive sponsor and Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) Council member. “A pillar of our I&D strategy is employee involvement. Having vibrant and engaged employee-led and driven networks supports our employees and provides opportunities to learn and get involved in shifting our culture. Steph, Brent and the whole team have done a great job getting Prism launched, as have the teams supporting all our other networks, and I’m excited for the path ahead.”
Our workplace inclusion networks focus on building overall awareness and understanding of what inclusion is, and the importance of valuing and respecting diversity in its many forms. This includes a person’s identity, way of seeing the world, perspectives, or background. Our networks include Journeys, which focuses on Indigenous cultural sharing and learning, Women engage, and now Prism. These networks, which are open to everyone, provide a place to address barriers to inclusion, create a sense of connection and belonging, and help employees learn from and about each other.
We remain committed to becoming a truly inclusive and respectful workplace. We are stronger together, especially when our together includes everyone!