An LGBTQIA+ woman who wanted to start a family with her partner changed her company’s culture for good upon learning she did not qualify for any parental benefits or time off.
Cherise Slover, a senior customer experience specialist and global PRIDE chair at Intuit, said that prior to joining her company, she worked at a law office, where being an openly LGBTQIA+ person “wasn’t an option.”
Accustomed to hiding her identity at work, Slover continued to do so at Intuit — the U.S. business software giant behind TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint — until she discovered the crippling limitations of the company’s parental leave policy.
“My partner and I wanted to have a child, and, unfortunately, I didn’t qualify for any benefits or time off,” Slover recalled. “That was the turning point for me, I was actually thinking of leaving the company due to that.”
“Non-same-sex couples get to take six months off to spend with their new child, and I get to get my two weeks of vacation time,” she continued. “I thought trying to explain this to a senior leader, it was just going to go in one ear and out the other. However, when I told my story and I told them exactly how it impacted me and my life, they were shocked.”
In 2018, Slover successfully launched Intuit’s Ally program — a multi-level inclusion training that teaches team members how to provide safe spaces so that everyone feels empowered to bring their full selves to work — with the support of company CEO Sasan Goodarzi.
Goodarzi, who was born in Iran before moving to the U.S. at the age of 9, only to endure bullying “every single day” at school, said his childhood taught him the effects of being told you don’t belong and endowed him with an understanding of the importance of inclusion.
“That has really informed just how I feel about the importance of diversity and inclusion,” he said. “I think this has got to be something that starts at the workplace. For us to be able to deliver for our customers, we truly have to create an environment where we have a diverse workforce.”
To Slover’s surprise, the Ally Program “spread like wildfire” at Intuit.
The overwhelming support for the program led the company to host its first-ever Trans Summit in Jan. 2020, in partnership with GenderCool, a youth-led movement replacing misinformed opinions with positive, powerful experiences meeting remarkable kids who identify as transgender and non-binary.
“Having a Trans Summit shows the entire (tech) industry how to lead and talk about topics that are sometimes difficult,” said Gearah Goldstein, co-founder of GenderCool.
The powerful event brought together transgender teens and transgender Intuit workers helped propel the entire office toward greater understanding and acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community.
“Watching the colleagues that I’ve seen struggle for the past few years come out, share their stories and share what that type of experience is within the workplace, it was just completely and utterly inspirational,” Slover recalled of the summit.
“The work culture today is just completely different than when I first started,” she added. “If you walk into the Tucson site, you’ll see ally badges everywhere, you’ll see flags, you’ll see people who are actually standing up to each other and saying this is not okay. You don’t need to hide who you are, you can make change across the globe simply by bringing your whole self to work.”
PwC’s new series, “Act On Change,” produced in association with the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, highlights the many ways companies and their leaders are affecting change for a more diverse, inclusive and better future. With more than 900 CEOs that have taken the pledge, CEO Action is the largest CEO-led business coalition focused on advancing diversity and inclusion in the U.S. To learn more, visit CEOAction.com.
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