A woman smiles off camera as she holds a rainbow flag behind her.
June 5, 2020

How Wells Fargo began marching with pride

Wells Fargo is continuing its long-standing commitment to the LGBTQ community during Pride Month.

Every year, Wells Fargo employees participate in pride parades and events across the world, a tradition that began at Wells Fargo with a grassroots movement in 1991. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in most pride celebrations and parades being postponed or canceled, Wells Fargo is continuing its long-standing commitment to the LGBTQ community during Pride Month in June.

It all started when two employees met for lunch in the summer of 1991, a week after San Francisco’s annual pride parade — at the time called the International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade. Tim Hanlon and Shannon Hickey shared a desire to see a Wells Fargo group walk in the parade the following year. Just four years prior, Wells Fargo had added sexual orientation to nondiscrimination employment policies — a protection that still does not exist under federal law. Hanlon and Hickey hoped this internal safeguard meant that LGBTQ employees would feel comfortable and safe expressing themselves, advocating openly in the workplace, and joining a company team at the parade.

The first step in preparing for the next parade was to find interested people to join them. The Wells Fargo Foundation already donated to AIDS and HIV support groups that served LGBTQ communities, which were disproportionally affected by the epidemic. Hanlon and Hickey learned that 300 members of the company’s volunteer network were participating in an upcoming AIDS walk, so they made plans to recruit at the event.

As Wells Fargo employees gathered after the AIDS walk for a group picture, Hanlon and Hickey handed out flyers encouraging people to contact them if they were interested in getting to know fellow LGBTQ employees. The next day, they were inundated with emails. An informal picnic was arranged, and on Aug. 18, 1991, Wells Fargo’s first LGBTQ team member group held their inaugural meeting in Golden Gate Park. From that day forward, an informal group was established to share information, communicate, and leverage a unified voice to advocate for change.

A group of Wells Fargo employees pose for a picture under an AIDS Walk San Francisco banner.
Tim Hanlon handed out flyers to employees when this picture was taken after an AIDS walk in San Francisco in 1991.
Photo: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives

A yearlong goal attained

Intent on fulfilling their vision from the previous summer, Hanlon, Hickey, and the rest of the LGBTQ team member group mobilized to form a team for the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. More than 100 employees stepped forward to walk with Wells Fargo’s group that year.

Wells Fargo employees have been marching with pride ever since. The informal group that first met in Golden Gate Park led to the formation of a local Wells Fargo PRIDE Team Member Network in the late 1990s. Today, there are more than 14,000 employees who are members of more than 50 PRIDE Team Member Network chapters around the world at Wells Fargo, and thousands of employees connected through the network have walked with their local LGBTQ communities to show their pride and support.

Ongoing commitment to civic engagement

The company’s support of pride reflects a historic and ongoing commitment to civic engagement and supporting communities. Wells Fargo is encouraging all employees to make their voices heard during Pride Month and beyond. Through a companywide 2020 Get Out the Vote campaign, the company is working to educate, engage, and empower employees to exercise their right to vote. Wells Fargo is also encouraging employees to complete the 2020 census, which helps determine how federal funds are distributed to cities and communities over the next 10 years.

A group of employees march in a parade with balloons in the background and gather behind a banner that says ‘Greetings from Wells Fargo Bank.’
The Wells Fargo contingent at the San Francisco Pride parade in 1993. After the first group of employees carried the Wells Fargo banner in 1992, it became an annual tradition.
Photo: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives