Together We Stand for Pride

You've Got an Ally in Me


Though the word ally conjures a variety of meanings in different contexts, it has taken on a special significance in the LGBTQ+ community. Queer folks see an ally as someone who invests time in the community and stands up and speaks out. The unity that comes from LGBTQ+ people and their allies gives them strength. McDonald's, through its support of the LGBTQ+ community, acts as an ally to crew members and fans alike. The company understands that allyship goes beyond simply saying it and walks the walk with concerted efforts to help promote queer voices and experiences.

Allyship is important to many crew members of McDonald's. "Being an LGBTQ+ ally is very, very near and dear to my heart," said Danielle Harris, a Sr. Director, Center HR, for a piece published on the McDonald's website in 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. "I grew up in Los Angeles in a family that respected and accepted everyone... We were always supportive of the LGBTQ+ community - my whole life, we went to AIDS Walks and Pride parades." But Harris came to understand that allyship challenges us to show up in crucial ways.

"For me, a lightbulb went off when two of my best friends in college were noticeably struggling with an issue they felt they had to keep to themselves. After they came out to me, I realized the weight of that process and the fear it entails - and I committed to showing up more for them and the LGBTQ community as a whole." Harris believes an important way to be an ally is to stand up for not only friends, fans and fellow crew members but also for strangers. She urges allies to use their voices to stand in defiance of negative comments and harassment, letting every LGBTQ+ person know they are not alone. "Now, if I can help others come out or help people feel more comfortable with their identities, I want to. That's my duty as an ally."

Health, a wellness publication with a mission to empower readers with accurate, empathetic, and actionable health information, outlines more ways to be an ally for the LGBTQ+ community.

Use your voice. This looks like being open and vocal about your decision to be an LGBTQ+ ally. It also means speaking out against negative words or terms as they relate to LGBTQ+ individuals. Finally, say positive and edifying things about the community to show your support.
Stay informed. This means you seek out news and information about issues in the community. Knowledge and awareness of a topic demonstrates you care.
Take action. This starts with supporting equality across a variety of spaces, including in school, the workplace, and at home. You can also be proactive about using your pronouns and asking others for theirs in order to avoid misgendering.

There are also ways to be an ally in the workplace.

Evaluate the situation. Crew members can assess the different groups in the workplace and discover opportunities for diverse voices to be heard. Crew members should also engage in open dialogue about what works and what doesn't, and explore ways to improve. For example, a supervising crew member could learn from another crew member about a holiday they celebrate and put up fliers in the break room to show support.
Create the culture. The norms and values of a workplace should reflect the culture of inclusivity for every kind of identity. The culture should also promote discussing and calling out prevention methods around harmful content and behavior toward crew members in the workplace. For example, if a crew member expresses concern about a comment from another crew member, a supervising crew member should discuss it with them and ensure open communication.
Make a space. The workplace should be made to be a space for open expression. Everyone should participate in building a workplace based on crew member value, appreciation, and recognition. For example, crew members are encouraged to wear rainbow colors during Pride month.

Allyship is a company value that people like Danielle mentioned above strives for at McDonald's. The brand makes efforts to shape the culture for crew members and fans alike to be an ally to LGBTQ+ folks, but also to minority groups and those outside the mainstream. Finally, the company, comprised of thousands of restaurants in all kinds of neighborhoods, ensures the workplaces reflect back a community of expression - such as some restaurants encourage crew members to wear rainbow colors for Pride month - where everyone is celebrated for their unique attributes. It takes courage and effort to be an ally, but the work pays off in a more inclusive world.

by Roger Porter

This story is part of our special report: "McDonald's Unity in Diversity and Mentally Strong Editorial Series". Want to read more? Here's the full list.

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