June 11, 2024

Celebrating Pride Month


Pride Month is a month-long celebration and recognition of the LGBTQIA+ community. It takes place in June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, a pivotal moment in LGBTQIA+ history. It is marked each year by various events, parades and activities that promote inclusivity, diversity and equality. Tony S., Manager, Technical Content Development and Pride Employee Resource Group (ERG) co-lead, added, “Pride Month is a time for each of us to truly embrace our identities, reinvigorating our determination to protect our accomplishments and safeguard our rights against those who may seek to undermine them.”


At Cengage Group, we are committed to fostering a welcoming and supportive work environment that values and respects every individual. Our Pride ERG helps bring this mission to life by cultivating an inclusive and empowering atmosphere that provides educational resources, networking platforms and a community of support for LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies. We believe in creating a space where everyone can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives. Tony and his fellow Pride co-leads help bring this mission to life by fostering a safe and inclusive environment for any and all who need it, hosting monthly support meetings and regularly sharing resources to enhance self-support and advocate for the needs of the community.


Pride Month at Cengage Group

Throughout the month, our Pride ERG is hosting three live events and facilitating asynchronous games to boost employee engagement. These initiatives are centered around the Pride ERG’s 2024 theme, “Champions of Pride,” which coincides with the upcoming Summer Olympics games. The theme highlights various LGBTQIA+ heroes and how employees can be “Champions of Pride” in their daily lives. Tony shared that he, along with his fellow Pride co-leads, “diligently organized events that foster camaraderie and promote education among colleagues.”

Lori H., Associate Web Content Editor, and Terry R., Enrollment Representative were pivotal in helping to organize this year’s events. Lori shared, “I always love to volunteer, but sometimes I doubt myself. A gentle push from former Pride leadership really encouraged me to get involved this year. I’ve had such a positive experience with the ERG and wanted to give back. I've always found that games are a great way to break the ice, help people get to know one another and relieve stress, so I organized a few activities that I hope will achieve all of that. It has been a difficult year for many employees, and I am hoping that through our events we can bring people together again. I hope that colleagues see the Pride ERG as a community of support, strength and camaraderie.”

Terry added that this is his second year helping with Pride Month planning. “I find the work incredibly important in these challenging political times, and even challenging times at Cengage Group with organizational changes. I hope that these events will re-energize our Pride ERG community and help kickstart their own personal Pride celebrations in and around their communities.”


Enhancing the Employee Experience

Lori has worked at Cengage Group for two years and explained that she found a loving community in the Pride ERG. “It is a place where everyone is accepted and valued. When I've had difficulties processing my emotions, or needed to talk to someone, I knew I could always find a listening ear. The events have been enlightening, informative and help build connections that I wouldn't otherwise have. I have found the Pride ERG to be an unexpectedly valuable resource for connecting with colleagues from different departments within the company. Although its primary purpose may not be to facilitate networking for cross-team inquiries, it has proven to be effective in that regard. Over the past year, I have gained valuable insights into various sections of Cengage Group and witnessed how they collaborate through interactions with members of the Pride ERG.”

Terry just recently celebrated his two-year service anniversary with Cengage Group and as he reflected, he said that “being a member of the Pride ERG has added to my overall employee satisfaction. This is the second corporate job in which I’ve been out, but it’s the first that I’ve experienced anything like our ERG for our LGBTQIA+ members. Knowing that Cengage Group cares about our Pride community, not just during June of each year, means a lot.”



Embracing Your Authentic Self

Bringing your whole self to work can be difficult. Lori shared that, “it can feel like a big leap of faith to be your authentic self, without worrying about how you might be perceived, but I want to empathize that the Pride ERG is a safe space.” For those who may be hesitant to fully embrace and celebrate their identity, Lori suggested, “taking it one day at a time. If you find it to be too overwhelming, start small by trusting one person at a time until you've built a group that will be your support. The more helping hands you have behind you, the easier it is to be brave. The Pride ERG is always here for you without an expiration date. We welcome everyone with open arms and are happy to celebrate each individual when they are ready, and to the extent they are ready. Don't feel that you must rush- we aren't a project deadline!”


Terry said, “we only get one life and living in fear isn’t truly living. I understand having some reservations about sharing one’s identity at work, but I’d much rather be my full and authentic self at work than worry about what pieces of me I share with the world. If anyone has a problem with who I am, that’s their problem, not mine and is unfortunate for them.”


LGBTQIA+ Role Models

In speaking with Tony, Lori and Terry, we asked them who their LGBTQIA+ role models were. Role models help motivate, they serve as examples of achievement and can help individuals navigate challenges by sharing experiences and wisdom.

Tony shared that he has many role models. “The story of Harvey Milk's life is one that has taught me to fight the good fight with a smile on my face. Musicians like experimental pop artist SOPHIE and rapper Cakes da Killa inspire me to think about my creative efforts in new and different ways. And out-and-proud folk like recent Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider motivate me to live my life openly and authentically.”

Lori’s role model is a friend, Will, that she has known since high school. “Living in the South, the culture here isn't one of acceptance, and I watched him struggle to discover who he was and really come to terms with it. He would roll his eyes if he heard me say this, but I've always admired how brave he was to finally stand up say, ‘this is who I am.’ It was incredibly hard, and there was significant fall out, but I will forever look up to that teenager, who was just a bit older than me, that could do something so courageous!”

Terry’s role model is P!nk, “since the very beginning of her career, she is someone that I looked up to. Her music is empowering but she’s just as much of an activist, standing up for rights. She also frequently challenges the status quo by living loudly and being her authentic self. Her unwavering support for her LGBTQIA+ fans has also earned my utmost and eternal respect. At a time when the LGBT allyship seems to be endless (each Pride Month), she is a true ally 24/7, 365 days a year.”



Pride Month Celebrations

Tony, Lori and Terry are not only celebrating Pride Month in their professional lives but their personal lives too.

Tony is celebrating Pride Month outside of work with his partner Ziggy. “We are looking forward to attending quite a few Pride Month activities where we live in North Carolina, including Out! Raleigh Pride and a fabulous drag dance party with some queens from RuPaul's Drag Race. We're also looking forward to Ziggy's DJ set of queer punk and rock music at The Green Monkey, a gay-owned gift shop/bottle shop/bar in downtown Raleigh.”

Lori said that this month she is watching a few TV series that feature openly queer characters and actors. She added that, “I am taking more suggestions for any streaming series or movies that can help me celebrate in my own recluse way! Even though I am not out celebrating, I am celebrating in my own way, and I hope everyone else is too. Pride doesn't end on June 30th!”

Terry shared, “I also plan on attending Out! Raleigh Pride with my boyfriend and some of my closest friends. Additionally, my Sundays and Mondays starting at the end of June will be full all summer; I am participating in a LGBT dodgeball league and bowling league.”


Learn More:

Through embracing diversity and cultivating an inclusive culture, we can establish a work environment that empowers individuals to flourish and achieve their utmost potential. If you’re interested in knowing more about what it’s like to work at Cengage Group, read more Employee Experiences.