New team takes ACU Pride to the next level

For 2SLGBTQIA+ communities and allies worldwide, June is Pride month—a time for celebration, reflection, recognition and cooperation to honour inclusion and the freedom to be yourself.

The ACU team at the Pride parade

Supporting the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is a long-standing value at ACU, which has been involved with Pride events in Winnipeg for decades, dating back to some of the first events in the 1980s.

Introducing the ACU Pride Committee

In 2023, the new ACU Pride Committee is taking June’s events to the next level. This group of dedicated employees is spearheading public support of the community through exciting and informative events during Pride month and beyond.

Austin West, Director of Advice and Service Delivery at ACU

For Austin West, Director of Advice and Service Delivery at ACU, who identifies as a member of the2SLGBTQIA+ community, joining ACU in 2021 was an easy decision. He chose the company precisely because of its values.

“Assiniboine Credit Union has a reputation for efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion. We’re really known for our values and being huge supporters of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.”

After starting his new role, Austin quickly realized that those efforts could be significantly enhanced by establishing a Pride committee led by ACU team members.

The ACU team at the Pride parade

In his first year on the job, Austin and several colleagues launched informal learning initiatives around 2SLGBTQIA+ issues, with support from the executive team. This culminated in an all-staff survey to gauge interest in forming a Pride committee.

The idea was met with enthusiasm, support and engagement, with colleagues reaching out to share stories and offering to volunteer. The call for committee member applications was put out after Pride 2022, and the inaugural committee was chosen last fall, including ACU employees who self-identify within the community and allies.

“I want members of the community to know where ACU stands and feel they have the backing of the entire organization to be who they are in their workplace.”

—Ami Barkat, ACU Member Services Coordinator

A space for understanding

In its kickoff year, the ACU Pride Committee is focusing on using members’ collective knowledge to provide leadership in educating employees on 2SLGBTQIA+ experiences, as well as contributing to a safe, inclusive and positive work environment.

Austin believes this is key. “The goal this year is learning and working to engage. Everything we do as part of our Pride committee aims to bring employees to a space for understanding.”

ACU Member Services Coordinator Ami Barkat

ACU Member Services Coordinator Ami Barkat is also on the inaugural Pride committee. As a gay married man, Ami felt it was important to join the initiative, especially given ACU’s core values to increase visibility and support for 2SLGBTQIA+ colleagues, while ensuring the community is part of the conversation.

Ami understands that, “for members in the community, being acknowledged and supported by their teammates matters. Logging onto our ACU internal website and seeing a notification about a Pride-related event means a lot.” It also benefits members outside the community, who have the opportunity to educate themselves and create a more inclusive space for their colleagues.

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Related: How ACU helps its 2SLGBTQI+ members invest in themselves and their futures

Kicking off Pride 2023

Oh Doughnuts, a local business owned by a member of the 2SLGBTQI+ community

With the support of the committee, ACU branches connected virtually for a company-wide Pride committee launch in April. Treats were delivered to each team by Oh Doughnuts, a local business owned by a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community—who also happens to be a loyal ACU member.

In mid-May, the committee followed up the launch’s success by inviting its community partner, the Rainbow Resource Centre, to ACU to discuss the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. They spoke about the history of Pride, including the Stonewall riots of 1969, and emphasized why modern-day movements are still important.

The ACU team during Pride

In a historic move, June 4 marked the first time ACU team members came together as an organization to walk with the Pride committee under the ACU company banner in the Winnipeg Pride Parade. Many wore ACU Pride t-shirts, profits from which were donated to Sunshine House, an organization that focuses on harm reduction and social inclusion for insecurely housed and marginalized people.

Next, the committee will lean into educational opportunities around milestone dates for the community, including International Non-Binary People’s Day in mid-July.

A broader reach

Employee workshops are another initiative on the horizon, focusing on topics that disproportionately affect the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. This includes coaching participants on different perspectives and inclusive language.

Austin explains that the committee also seeks opportunities to engage employees in its community work, such as volunteering with the Rainbow Resource Centre.

The aim is to create broader community outreach, such as financial literacy lectures focused on helping 2SLGBTQIA+ community members achieve financial security.

“We know there’s a huge opportunity for us to deliver back to our members, now with an inspired, educated and engaged employee base.”— Austin West, Director of Advice and Service Delivery at ACU

As a Certified B Corporation recognized for its social impact, ACU’s commitment to 2SLGBTQIA+ inclusion supports its overall values of putting people and planet first.

Austin couldn’t be prouder of ACU and the committee’s efforts. “Every single day, we get an opportunity to live our values as a team and company. It’s been wonderful to take part in the formation of this committee and I’m really excited to see where things will go over the next few years.”

Interested in finding out more about ACU’s Pride Committee or volunteering at our events? We’d love to hear from you.

About Helen Burnett-Nichols

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