Today, for the third year in a row, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) honored Visa with a 100 percent score on its 2017 Corporate Equality Index. Each year, the HRC evaluates companies on several criteria including their equal employment opportunity policies, equal employment benefits, resources for training and much more—reserving 100 percent for the companies that have received perfect scores on all criteria.
We sat down with Adam Wand, VP of Global Risk and sponsor of Visa PRIDE, Visa’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, to hear his perspective on what this ranking means for the company and what more we could do to advance the rights, opportunities and initiatives that would help make Visa an even more inclusive workplace. What he has to say not only inspires, but also provides a starting point for the year ahead.
Tell us first what you do as the sponsor of PRIDE.
Adam Wand: As the sponsor of PRIDE, I provide strategic advice and support to the group. I sit on our Corporate Social Responsibility committee, making sure that our policies for our employees and our community are the right ones. I am also a source of support for younger members of the group, making sure they get the mentorship and development that they need.
What does recognition like this mean for Visa and Visa PRIDE members?
Wand: I think Visa should be extremely proud that it’s earned 100 percent on HRC’s Best Places to Work list. We are happy that we work for a company that takes the experiences of our LGBTQ+ employees so seriously. Receiving this recognition sends a clear signal both internally and externally that we are committed to LGBTQ+ diversity and equality. This is a place where you come to work knowing you will be valued and celebrated for who you are.
Can you speak to your experience being out at work? How has the company’s commitment to an open and inclusive work environment manifested itself in your everyday life at Visa?
Wand: Well, besides my pink unicorn tape dispenser at my desk, I would have to say it’s empowering! We are empowered to be who we are at work. Each day 100 percent of Adam Wand comes to work and I am so grateful that Visa encourages this. “Covering” who we are is a real scourge. Many of us have had to do that within our careers, but when people can’t bring themselves to work, they aren’t able to bring with them their full potential. We are a global company and we do operate in places where laws do not protect LGBTQ+ individuals the way we’d like, but I can say with certainty that you don’t have to go undercover when you’re in a Visa office. You can step into an office anywhere in the world, whether that be in Asia, Dubai or Africa. You are encouraged to bring your full self to work wherever you are each and every day.
You’ve mentioned that Visa has been there for its employees during the highs and the lows. Can you describe how you and your peers felt during those moments?
Wand: Visa has done a lot to encourage LGBTQ+ diversity and has greatly supported us during the highs and lows, especially this year. As a high, Visa has always been an advocate for marriage equality. That was apparent when we signed the Amicus Brief last year. But when the decision was finally made in the U.S., Visa was prepared with the correct external and internal communications. One of our main taglines is “Visa. Accepted Everywhere.” I can say that we rarely ever change this or adapt it since it’s core to who we are. But when the decision was made at the Supreme Court, we posted our excitement on Twitter with the tagline “Love. Accepted everywhere.”
On a low, there was also the tragedy in Orlando, FL. We expressed our sorrow and disgust that something like this would happen to our community. Our communications team gathered our LGBTQ+ leaders to share publicly our sorrow and disgust over what happened. Visa really stepped up to provide support and counseling to employees after the tragedy. And just this past year, Visa sent a delegation to a large LGBTQ+ conference in Orlando. During the trip, we all made a visit to the Pulse Nightclub Victims Memorial to pay respects with the full support of Visa.
Beyond the HRC’s criteria, what activities, initiatives and programs has Visa offered this past year to deserve this recognition?
Wand: We are extremely proud to have met the criteria, but we have done so much more, in my opinion, to deserve this recognition. Just recently we started asking U.S.-based employees to self-report their sexual orientation/gender identity in Workday. It might not be the “sexiest” thing, but it will provide us good data that will allow Visa to continue to provide the right support that our employees need.
Given the recent changes with regard to the political landscape in the U.S., what can Visa do to advance the rights and opportunities of the LGBTQ+ community globally, especially at a time when many feel those rights and opportunities might be at risk?
Wand: We have to always maintain good relationships with governments and that will continue to be the case with President-elect Trump and his administration. However, I am thinking of a message CEO Al Kelly sent to our global employee base after the U.S. elections. The title was “Moving Forward Together.” In it, he reinforced that we will continue to advocate for Visa’s interests with the new administration, but that we will never abandon our values, which are the bedrock of who we are. We will continue to make sure that employees can bring their full selves to work.
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