University of Phoenix Celebrates Pride and Support for LGBTQ+ Employees

University of Phoenix employees demonstrated their support for LGBTQ+ causes and rights by participating in the Phoenix Pride Parade. Held November 6, the parade brought together over 2,000 participants and over 15,000 spectators in a massive city-wide celebration that included floats, walkers, music, Grand Marshals and more.

Experienced in person for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Phoenix Pride Parade provided the University with an opportunity to openly reaffirm their support for the LGBTQ+ members of their community within the University, in the surrounding city and beyond. The University of Phoenix Employee Resource Group (ERG) Allies of Pride has over 500 members who are actively involved in providing volunteer and promotional support for the Phoenix Pride Parade.

The Pandemic’s Inequitable Toll on the LGBTQ+ Community

The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly hard on those in the LGBTQ+ community. A survey from the U.S. Census Bureau found that nearly a quarter of LGBTQ people reported losing income during the pandemic, higher than for non-LGBTQ respondents. In addition, members of the LGBTQ+ community were nearly twice as likely to experience food insecurity and to report struggles with anxiety and other mental health conditions during the pandemic.

While the University’s support for the LGBTQ+ community is ongoing, Julie Fink, vice president of Human Resources at University of Phoenix, said the Phoenix Pride Parade allowed them to celebrate who they are and receive public support in a way that had been missing during the pandemic. “We are excited to have a visual and in-person celebration of our community and support for each other, which is so critical as we emerge from a very difficult year and a half,” Fink said. “This parade is an opportunity to celebrate, be together and to support our loved ones, family members and each other.”

Supporting and Celebrating Diversity Through ERGs at University of Phoenix

Allies of Pride was the University’s first ERG. Others include African American Council of Excellence (AACE), Veterans, Hispanic and Phoenix Women Rising. All the ERGs are employee-led and designed to foster a more inclusive workplace where all employees can be recognized, celebrated and thrive.

At one ERG event, Fink noted that an employee shared that she now felt comfortable coming out. “An employee approached our Allies of Pride ERG booth at an event and stated that she had been a ‘closeted’ employee for over 15 years,” Fink said. “With the establishment of Allies of Pride, this signaled to her, very publicly, that the University completely accepted and supported her.”

A Culture of Inclusion at University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is committed to creating a truly inclusive culture. That commitment is reflected in its perfect scores over the past three years on the HRC Corporate Equality Index, which measures workplace equality based on a specific set of criteria. Areas measured include workforce protections, inclusive benefits, support for an inclusive culture, corporate social responsibility measures and responsible citizenship.

The scores provide a clear indication that University of Phoenix is continually evolving and expanding to better support employees and students of all races, religions, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“This sends a very clear message to our students, faculty, alumni, employees and the public that we value diversity and inclusion and that we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” said Fink. “Our successive perfect scores show our willingness to relook at our practices and determine if any changes are necessary to adapt to evolving nondiscrimination views.”

University of Phoenix’s efforts toward inclusion involve not only designated affinity groups and monthly celebrations but also the commitment to providing educational access to all people through maximum flexibility and affordability. In addition, ERGs like Allies of Pride give University employees the opportunity to celebrate their differences, create an inclusive culture and serve as allies promoting nondiscrimination and belonging.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning and Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. The University is committed to creating an inclusive culture both for employees and students. Employee Resource Groups provide community and support around shared identities including Allies for Pride, American Council of Excellence, Veterans, Hispanic and Phoenix Women Rising. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

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Christophe Rude

Christophe Rude

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