In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, New York City Police raided the Stonewall Inn, an underground, illegal gay bar in New York’s Greenwich Village. Tired of regular raids at the establishment and being roughed up by police, patrons of the bar and angry neighbors in the community had had enough and a riot ensued. The confrontation sparked protests that continued for more than five days. Today, the incident, known as the Stonewall Riots, is largely credited for galvanizing the LGBTQ community and serving as a catalyst for the modern gay rights movements across the globe.

 

In commemoration of Stonewall, the month of June is now celebrated worldwide as Pride Month.  This year, NetApp will be recognizing Pride Month and the significance of this historic event in order to recognize the progress of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) movement and the impact that LGBTQ individuals have had on history—locally, nationally and internationally.

 

NetApp Pride Month is part of a series of global heritage celebrations being sponsored by NetApp’s Global Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging (GDIB) team and Executive Sponsor Kathy Tyra, VP Global Business Services. These heritage celebrations, such as the events that have been held for the Lunar New Year, Diwali and recently Black History Month, are meant to foster community and connection by honoring the history, heritages and cultures of all employees across the world and recognizing their unique contributions to NetApp, our partners and customers.

Celebrating diversity

Doing the right thing—for employees, customers, partners, shareholders and our communities—has always been an integral part of the NetApp ethos. As such, NetApp fully embraces a diverse and inclusive global workforce. We aim to advance a culture of belonging for everyone—leveraging the backgrounds and perspectives of all employees to foster a higher performing organization.

 

Recognizing Pride Month is just one way that NetApp can acknowledge and celebrate equality and inclusion for all people and demonstrate to our employees, customers, partners and communities that we value and promote a culture where every voice matters.

 

As we take the month of June to recognize the valuable contributions of our LGBTQ community, we reached out to some of NetApp’s leaders to ask them why it’s important for our company to show support for diversity initiatives.

 

Here’s what some of them had to say:

 

How do NetApp values support a culture of equality and belonging?

It ties to our core value of Teamwork & Synergy and making sure we include the entire team to get the best of our collective talents and resources. We want people to feel that NetApp is a safe and open place to work and that everyone can contribute, belong and be successful here. – Kathy Tyra, Vice President, Global Business Services

 

What does diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging mean to you personally, to our business and NetApp as a company?

I think belonging is something we all feel, regardless of your background or where you’re from. In the context of our work life, having that sense can only yield positive outcomes for a team or group in fostering new ideas and creating commitment to one’s goals. For me, having a sense of belonging starts with diversity, inclusion and equality. – Michael Giannini, Vice President, Operations Strategic Enablement

 

The data clearly shows that a diverse workforce is more creative, builds better products, has higher customer satisfaction and is more profitable. Given the data, who would argue against any of this? Do you want to be part of a company that is less profitable or less creative? I doubt it. That’s the data—which is great—but on a personal level, it’s just the right thing to do. It’s important to have connections with each other and to feel like we are part of the group and that we belong where we are. If we don’t have those connections, you might feel isolated and may think about going somewhere where there is a better fit for you. It’s important to me that our employees feel like they are doing something valuable in an environment where they can be themselves, be happy and build great products and a great culture. – Kevin Nigh, Vice President, Software Defined Infrastructure Group

 

Diversity, inclusion, equality and belonging are very important for our team to be able to bring their full self to work every day, not worrying that they’ll be excluded or silenced because of their choices and beliefs. I want our team to feel as though they are valued for ALL that they bring to work and that we are a safe place to be for the majority of their day. Our clients also expect that a trusted partner will mirror their commitment to diversity and inclusion, and if we bring a non-diverse team, they may feel like we may not have diverse thinking, which is why they hire services people in many cases—to look around corners and think in ways their employees may not have. For NetApp as a company, I believe our market leadership position will require diversity of thought to stay on top. – Cindy Warner, Senior Vice President, WW Enterprise Services

 

What actions can leaders and employees take to continue to make safe spaces for all employees?

For everyone, ensuring active listening, having candid debates and allowing for each other’s ideas will help foster an environment where individuals feel valued and respected. Leadership behavior in this regard needs to be authentic, which in turn builds trust and inclusion. I think this promotes a culture where all employees feel they can thrive.  – Michael Giannini

 

Why is it important that NetApp celebrate Pride Month?

It acknowledges and celebrates our LGBTQ community and shows that we value them as people and as part of our team.  – Kathy Tyra

Pride Month donations drive

To celebrate and acknowledge Pride Month, NetApp will be sponsoring donations drives for three LGBTQ youth centers in RTP and Sunnyvale. These centers offer safe, confidential spaces and a variety of services—from mental health and workshops to emergency housing—for kids in need of support.

 

In Sunnyvale, donations will be given to the LGBTQ Youth Space in San Jose.

 

In RTP, donations will be given to the LGBT Center of Raleigh and the Time Out Youth Center in Charlotte.

How else can I get involved?

In addition to the donations drives in RTP and Sunnyvale, NetApp employees, customers and partners across the globe can celebrate Pride Month by getting involved with their local LGBTQ-serving institutions. To volunteer or learn more about organizations that support the LGBTQ community in your area, see the links below.

Global Organizations

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Lisa Melsted

Lisa Melsted develops culture strategies and content for NetApp’s Employee Engagement team. A tech industry veteran with more than 15 years’ experience in various communications and marketing roles, she holds Master’s degrees in Creative Non-Fiction from Emerson College and English from the University of Iowa. She has also written articles about technology for publications such as Forbes BrandVoice and TechPageOne.