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LGBT outreach mends strained relationship, fosters allies

A work event served as the catalyst for a Maryland team member’s renewed relationship with her daughter.

June 8, 2016

When Suzette Keener, a Wells Fargo team member in Frederick, Maryland, walked into a company gathering in 2012, she didn’t expect it to forever impact her relationship with her daughter. The bond had been strained; Suzette was having a difficult time accepting that her daughter was gay.

The event was a Team Member Network fair, at which the company’s 11 employee resource (or affinity) groups present information about their networks and how team members can get involved. A co-worker introduced Suzette to the PRIDE Team Member Network, which focuses on inclusion and acceptance for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) team members.

Suzette credits the group with the revelation she had that day.

“I realized that my daughter was the same beautiful person one second before she came out to me as she was one second after,” says Suzette, a loan servicing specialist. “Members of the PRIDE Network and the resources they offer helped me understand how to accept, love, and support my daughter. Now we have a much better relationship.”

Combo image of (1) Suzette with her daughter and (2) daughter with fiancée
Left photo: Team member Suzette Keener with daughter Chelsea Macken at a PRIDE event in Maryland. Right: Chelsea (in white shoes) with her fiancée, Jessica Embly.

Now Suzette is more than a loving parent. She’s also an LGBT ally, which means she helps others in their journeys to be more inclusive and is a resource for information. She has participated in local Pride parade activities and has become an ambassador for the company’s PRIDE Team Member Network, which has more than 50 chapters and more than 7,000 members, including 193 international team members.

“I am where I am today thanks to my teammates at Wells Fargo and the company’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and acceptance,” Suzette says.

Last year, Suzette united a Wells Fargo colleague and his partner. And in November 2017, she will officiate at her daughter’s wedding.

Commitment to the LGBT community goes beyond Pride season

Wells Fargo’s formal commitment to the LGBT community dates to 1987, when the company added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy. For more than 25 years, Wells Fargo has provided financial and programmatic support to LGBT organizations, supported LGBT customers and their unique financial needs, and continued to foster a culture of equality in the workplace and community.

This year, Wells Fargo will showcase the theme “Together is Beautiful” in more than 60 Pride events across the U.S. The company is also sponsoring the Tokyo Rainbow Parade for the first time, providing a platform for Tokyo team members to demonstrate their pride and show support for the recent LGBT milestones achieved in Japan.

John Lake, Wells Fargo LGBT Marketing segment manager, says, “‘Together is Beautiful’ reflects the work we do every day, whether with customers to help them reach their financial goals, with nonprofit organizations to help improve our communities, or with other team members to create a diverse and welcoming workplace. We acknowledge we’re only as strong as the communities we serve and know we’re most powerful when we work together.”

To help customers show their pride year-round, Wells Fargo is introducing customized debit cards that celebrate the LGBT community’s legacy, diversity, and history. The Pride Collection is available in the Card Design Studio®. The new card designs include a design developed with the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives and the GLBT Historical Society.

“We want to continue to connect with LGBT and ally customers in a new and meaningful way,” says John. “ONE Archives and the GLBT Historical Society helped us develop designs that respect and celebrate the rich history and accomplishments of the LGBT Community.”

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