In June 2020, the group became an official ERG and is now over 85 members strong. This year to celebrate Pride month, for the first time, CN will be raising the progress version of the Pride flag to fly over CN Headquarters.
We had the opportunity to talk with the PRIDE ERG steering committee Ashley Chmura (Track Inspector), Dominic Riccio (Specialist IAM Security Architecture), and Rodrigo Dalcin Lacerda (Specialist UX UI Design) about Pride month as well as the ERG itself.
What is the PRIDE ERG and what kind of role does it hope to play at CN?
The most important role the PRIDE ERG plays, says Rodrigo, is that it 'provides the necessary support for our LGBTQ2+ employees.' As Dominic explains: 'The ERG is a way for LGBTQ2+ employees to share their stories, and yes, sometimes their frustrations, while looking forward to making CN a more inclusive place to work.' Ashley adds to this saying, 'My hope with the ERG is that it will assist with making CN a safer and friendlier place for the LGBTQ2+ community.'
Giving back is an important part of the ERG and of CN's corporate culture as well. Recently the members of the PRIDE ERG handpicked a number of LGBTQ2+ community organizations across CN's network to donate money to. This is something the ERG organizes yearly. This year each charity received $5K from CN in their local currency.
How does CN support our LGBTQ2+ employees and what can we do better?
'CN has definitely come a long way in a short time in supporting diversity,' begins Dominic. Ashley adds that, 'the company has created policies and such to make the possibility of an employee coming out and living as who they truly are easier.' Dominic continues to say, 'there is still work to be done at CN to bring diversity to the offices and to the field.' Ashley agrees and stresses the importance of 'finding more ways to reach out to employees' including those in the field. Rodrigo adds, 'I'd also love to see more of our peers occupying roles where traditionally they haven't had so much visibility.'
Increasing visibility and creating a space where everyone feels like they can be their true selves is powerful for the individual and also transformational for the team as a whole. As Dominic says, 'over time I've come to understand that when we bring the best parts of ourselves, we all do better and lift each other up as a team.'
What does Pride Month mean to you?
'Pride means something different for everyone,' begins Dominic, 'but for me it's about not being left out.' Ashley also shares how Pride is personal to her, 'Pride month, to me, means being able to celebrate the person I have become since I started to transition.'
Throughout the month, the PRIDE ERG will be celebrating with a virtual social gathering for their members and will also be 'putting out some educational content, as well as showcasing how the ERG is contributing to the community by talking to some of the organizations we have recently donated to,' Rodrigo tells us.
CN will also be sharing messages this month about both Pride month as well as the PRIDE ERG to employees.
What would you like to say to CN employees, customers, and supply chain partners?
'Transportation hasn't always been a place for minorities to thrive. That is changing and I have seen amazing change at CN' Dominic begins. He continues to describe how through all of the employee resource groups, CN continues to break down silos and find new ways to work together and learn from each other. 'Everyone has so much they can bring to the table,' continues Dominic, 'and I am excited to see where this can take us.'
Ashley would like to tell all of her CN colleagues to not, 'be afraid to be your true self [and] understand that you are not the only one. CN does have resources available to assist you. One of those being the Pride ERG.' To customers and partners, Ashley echoes Dominic's thoughts that CN continues to move in the right direction with respect to diversity and inclusivity, saying, 'rest assured that CN is a very diverse and inclusive company.'
Rodrigo's message to our employees and CN partners is simple but important as he reminds all of us to continue to embrace the Pride spirit all year round by remembering to 'be proud, be inclusive, and be you.'
What are the next steps for the PRIDE employee resource group?
All three steering committee members are committed to finding new and better ways to reach out to and provide support to their fellow CN employees including those in non-traditional settings like our yards, our shops, and out in the field.
They also look forward to being able to welcome and meet members in person on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to work with CN's human resources and leadership teams to find better ways to support CN's LGBTQ2+ employees.