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Life at McCormick June 02, 2021

How McCormick’s Employee Ambassador Group PRISM Supports the LGBTQ+ Community

McCormick Pride Month; LGBTQ+ employee ambassador group


McCormick & Company is an industry leader when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) and has a long history of acceptance and equality throughout our entire organization. Our Employee Ambassador Groups (EAGs) provide a supportive, collaborative space for employees to come together to promote inclusion, strengthen communities, and network with colleagues across the company. PRISM, McCormick's EAG for the LGBTQ+ community, works to engage with the community, allies, and all employees to enlighten, inspire, and educate. Launched in 2017, the EAG strives to empower people to be their authentic whole selves and are committed to building an open, safe environment that fosters individual and company growth. The group was named PRISM because an actual prism casts a spectrum of colors, much like the colors in the PRIDE flag that represents the spectrum of people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Erica Frazier, IT Change Manager, is the current Co-Chair of PRISM. "One of the main reasons I applied for a position at McCormick was their reputation. Everything I read about them I wanted as an LGBTQ+ person – an accepting, respectful, environment and a culture that values differences and respects, appreciates, and celebrates everyone," she said. When she accepted her role at McCormick, Erica was undergoing a gender transition to align with her gender identity. When she shared this news about her journey and decision with her manager, she was amazed at the immediate support and acceptance she received. Human Resources and D&I immediately got involved to make sure she was afforded the same level of respect as other employees and to provide the tools necessary to bring her authentic self to work. "C.P. McCormick was really ahead of his time. More than 100 years ago he said that all employees deserve respect, dignity, and to live authentically. That is the foundation of D&I today," Erica said.

As Co-Chair of PRISM, some of her main goals include increasing allyship, working with organizations that support LGBTQ+ youth, partnering with small businesses through McCormick's supplier diversity program, and collaborating with Human Resources to incorporate PRISM into the recruiting process.

Kristoff Bannies, Senior Product Manager and PRISM Board member is responsible for membership engagement and believes it is important that all employees are aware of PRISM because representation matters. "I want to drive the message of LGBTQ+ inclusion because knowing you will be accepted at work gives people peace of mind," he said. Kristoff also recruits those interested in becoming allies, like those with family members or friends in the LBGTQ community that need support. PRISM can serve as a valuable resource for them, too. 

Although a bit challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kristoff has been able to drive awareness through virtual guest speakers, lunch and learns, and discussions around issues the Supreme Court of the United States is exploring. He explains since it is common in the LGBTQ+ community for members to feel they are the only ones like them, it is essential to get the word out about PRISM to assure them they are not alone. Other efforts he is planning include surveying current PRISM members to understand the EAG's impact, incorporating PRISM into the onboarding process, along with other McCormick EAGs, and working with Human Resources on developing the D&I curriculum for managers.

PRISM's Finance Chair and Secretary, Amy Silvia, is responsible for the group's planning, budgeting, and processes. The Associate Product Manager II started her career at McCormick three years ago. She joined PRISM and was quickly engaged with LGBTQ+ colleagues at work. Through coffee chats, happy hours, and educational sessions she met many employees, who shared their experiences at work and within the community. She began participating in events outside of McCormick, like volunteering at Moveable Feast, a nonprofit organization in Baltimore which provides food and services to individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other terminal illnesses. "I am proud that we use our funds to support LGBTQ+ organizations and initiatives like sponsoring the Baltimore PRIDE parade," she said.

Kellie Madden, Talent Acquisition Manager, serves as PRISM's Communications Chair. An ally of the LGBTQ+ community, she joined PRISM while in a prior role as a Human Resources Business Partner. "For the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other marginalized communities, allyship plays such an important role. It starts with education, awareness, and understanding, which is something we focus on in PRISM," Kellie said.

PRISM is also an important factor in McCormick's high ranking on The Corporate Equality Index (CPI). The CPI is a report published by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation as a tool to rate American businesses on their treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. PRISM leadership works closely with Human Resources to look at what McCormick is doing and where they can improve. McCormick proudly received a CPI score of 90 out of a possible 100 in the 2021 rating.

Like McCormick's other EAGs, PRISM aligns its activities with the goals and strategies of the company. In doing so, it helps drive internal policy change, enriches McCormick's relationship within the community, and provides a supportive, safe, and accepting environment for the LGBTQ+ community to work.

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