Bolt Bio: Megan Mertes
Pride has looked a bit different this year. In a month where we’re usually celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with parades, festivals, concerts, and celebrations, our country is reckoning with larger issues of discrimination and inequality that affect many marginalized groups.
As an LGBTQ+ owned business, we at TrendyMinds strive to be a strong voice for equality in our Indianapolis community. When faced with the need for monumental change, though, it’s tough to know where we as individuals can start making a difference with our daily lives and actions. We all have the opportunity to be an ally to someone. To celebrate Pride this month and advocate for equality for everyone, we’re sharing some things we're doing right now in own lives to help others around us feel welcome, along with some thoughts from our team about experiences that have made them feel welcome at work.
As allies, it’s our responsibility to hold up a magnifying glass to our own perspectives. Do you tend to make friends only with people who look like you? Do you make assumptions about others based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation? While thoughts and actions like these may seem harmless, they may qualify as microaggressions, which contribute to cultures of inequality.
Things as simple as gendered or hetero-normative language can alienate others. For example, imagine you’re getting to know a new female coworker. Instead of asking if she has a boyfriend or husband, ask if she has a significant other. It’s the same question, but without an assumption about your coworker’s sexuality.
“The culture at TrendyMinds is such that I (as a woman) can just talk about my wife like it's an everyday thing — because it is! Nothing remarkable. This is the first company in all the years I've worked that I don't worry about policing my language, pronouns, etc. It's no big deal. Finally!”
As marketers, we’re responsible for many of the messages people see in the world every day. That’s why it’s our responsibility to make sure our work doesn’t exclude anyone. Visibility and representation are vital — when you see people who look like you, talk like you, and live like you in the media, you feel seen and empowered, especially as a minority.
Start taking active steps to build inclusivity into your work. Whether it’s sharing the stories of marginalized communities, making space for LGBTQ+ voices, or simply making sure your work isn’t unintentionally offensive, your small steps as a creative can help make the world feel friendlier for everyone.
“As marketers, we try to understand what it’s like to be in our target audience’s shoes. That’s why it is important to educate yourself, stay informed, and listen to others’ voices.”
Whether it’s in person or over video chat, we spend a lot of our time interacting with our coworkers. Apart from our families, they’re some of the people we spend the most time with. The way we treat each other has a lasting impact on our lives both at and away from work. Looking for ways to listen to, support, and include one another not only makes for a stronger team — it makes for an environment where individuals feel heard and valued.
Maybe you’re working on a new campaign for a local sports team. Instead of inviting just the male basketball fans in the office to a brainstorm, include voices you wouldn’t typically think of when it comes to stereotypes about sports fans.
“Early on at TrendyMinds, people would invite me to meetings and brainstorms even if I wasn't working on that particular client account or project. They knew that having people involved who brought different perspectives would be beneficial to client work. I have since tried to carry that practice forward into my own work.”
At TrendyMinds, we’ve always worked to make inclusiveness a fundamental part of our company culture. That means doing the little things to make everyone feel welcome.
“Equality isn’t just about salaries and percentages. It’s about the actions we take every day to make others feel valued.”
It may seem cliché, but a small gesture of kindness can go a long way. These are hard times for all of us, in different ways. Kindness and compassion can help us get through it all, together.
Compassion starts with being open to hearing where others are coming from and being sympathetic to what they’re going through. True kindness shines through in the little ways you interact with others — at work, it’s about encouraging coworkers to contribute and valuing the unique skills each person brings to the table. It’s not about tokenism: kindness is caring about what people think and feel as people, regardless of what their backgrounds may or may not be.
“A simple 'thank you', the inclusion of going out to lunch, kudos in a group chat, or simply asking how I'm doing. All these small things make a huge impact.”
Pride Month is about members of a historically marginalized group in America — the LGBTQ+ community — deserving the same rights and compassion as everyone else. It’s a celebration of human equality and social justice, and in Pride 2020, that celebration extends to all historically marginalized groups, with the recognition that there is still much work to be done. This June and always, please remember: equality is the greatest kindness.