BJC employees, their family members and friends -- more than 300 strong -- stood with pride in support of the LGBTQ+ community, June 30, at the 2019 St. Louis PrideFest Grand Parade in downtown St. Louis.
BJC's participation in St. Louis PrideFest has grown each year, and this year's group was the largest ever to represent BJC in the annual parade.
"Throughout the years BJC has been involved in PrideFest, participation has grown exponentially -- and there's no going back now!" says Megan Gallagher, BJC Institute for Learning and Development ITMS analyst/Epic liaison and BJC SPECTRA Connection co-lead. "We aim to maintain our growing presence and hopefully surpass our goals every year."
The BJC SPECTRA (Support, Pride, Equality, Camaraderie, Trust, Respect, Alliance) Connection group led BJC's participation in the 2019 St. Louis PrideFest celebrations. The group is inclusive of all LGBTQ+ team members and team members who want to show their support as allies.
In 2018, 200 participants represented BJC in the Grand Parade. For 2019, SPECTRA's goal was to increase participation by 50%, with 300 people representing BJC this year.
"We challenged people," says Doug Black, Christian Hospital operations vice president and SPECTRA's executive sponsor. "The committee coordinating BJC's participation was moved by the number of people who responded and their enthusiasm. Now that we've set the bar, we won't be satisfied without doing even more next year."
A purpose for Pride participation
Black says participation in PrideFest activities achieves one of SPECTRA's main goals. "When we first formed and started talking about our group and our charter, one word that came up was visibility and creating visibility for the LGBT community within BJC. We also hope to make this event large enough and diverse enough for people at our smaller, rural facilities to feel they can also be a part of this."
Black says BJC's turnout at the PrideFest parade, and team member participation at all levels, including senior leadership, demonstrates the organization's support for the LGBTQ+ community. "It shows the kind of organization BJC is, which is another purpose of our participation in PrideFest," he says. "I've gotten at least 10 comments from people outside of BJC who were at PrideFest, saying how impressive it was to have such a large BJC group."
Amy Feldt, BJC Behavioral Health quality improvement/education supervisor, has been instrumental in BJC's participation in PrideFest for the past several years. She wholeheartedly agrees with Black.
"BJC's presence at PrideFest clearly shows the commitment to diversity among our employees. And this year's participation is a great indicator of the number of LGBTQ+ staff and allies -- those who aren't LGBTQ+ but support the community -- who are at BJC," Feldt says. "BJC's presence also shows LGBTQ+ community members that there's a commitment to our community. I hope our presence at PrideFest is a deciding factor for people when choosing a health care provider or an employer."
Gallagher, who co-leads SPECTRA with Steve Mapes, Missouri Baptist Medical Center health information management manager, says she's grateful for all of the employees who participated and who helped with the event. "This year's parade turnout gave us an amazing sense of accomplishment. We met our goal and even surpassed it!" she says. "The turnout for the parade was amazing and so was all of the work and support that came from our committee members and co-workers supporting us. This great show of teamwork brings a smile to my face."
"Without Megan, Steve and Amy, this wouldn't have happened the way it did," Black adds. "They worked so hard to pull it off and coordinate the whole event."
And their work for this year isn't done. Black says SPECTRA is already planning another event for Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day. "Our group will sponsor the event within our facilities to celebrate that day and give more visibility to our LGBTQ+ team members," he says.
Making connections across BJC
BJC workforce diversity manager Terrie Hart isn't surprised by the SPECTRA team's level of success at PrideFest 2019. "The SPECTRA group has awesome leadership," she says. "This representation proves that when team members can be themselves at work, we all benefit."
Gallagher agrees. "Being part of the 300-plus BJC team members, friends and family who volunteered their Sunday and showed their support to our LGBTQ+ community shows me how important our work with the BJC SPECTRA Connection group is," she says. "The support poured into our Connections groups allows us to increase SPECTRA's visibility and encourage diversity and inclusion in the workplace."
Interest in BJC's Connections groups continues to grow, says Hart. "I'm excited that we're able to connect across our organization in a meaningful way," she says. "Finding your place in an organization the size of BJC is a challenge. Finding team members to do it with is priceless."
Connecting the community with BJC, resources
The BJC booth at PrideFest 2019, staffed by BJC employee volunteers, offered a mix of fun and information.
The fun included free face painting, BJC's Our World Made Better experience with a photo booth, and opportunities to get to know BJC's hospitals better. Giveaways included hand sanitizer, sunscreen and bags, which Feldt says participants were happy to grab.
Information provided included an overview of Pride for allies, as well as BJC LGBTQ+ health provider directory posters featuring a QR code that sent participants to a list of Washington University providers knowledgeable and experienced with working with LGBTQ+ patients. "This list was a wonderful resource to provide to the community," Feldt says.
"BJC's booth provides a great way to connect with the community and BJC employees attending PrideFest," Feldt says. "It's always a great feeling when a BJC employee comes to the booth who wasn't aware of our presence or the SPECTRA Connection group and is excited to see us."
Adds Gallagher, "So many BJC employees and their family members made sure they stopped by our BJC booth to express how they or their family member were so proud to see BJC's deep commitment to having a presence at PrideFest. It truly was a way for people to connect with our team members and be greeted with a sense of support."
Looking for more information?
See how team members proudly represented BJC's diversity and inclusion in a recap video here.
You can also view more photos from the event in the photo gallery below and on Workplace, BJC's social media and engagement tool. If you haven't joined Workplace, learn more now, and then click the red "Getting Started" button to set up your account. You can also visit the webpage on BJCnet under "For Employees." Search for the SPECTRA group and join.
For more information, contact BJC SPECTRA Connection co-leads, Megan Gallagher, BJC Institute for Learning and Development ITMS analyst/Epic liaison, and Steve Mapes, Missouri Baptist Medical Center health information management manager, at SPECTRA_Connections_Group@bjc.org.
Diversity and inclusion are a big part of BJC's identity, and an important step to inclusiveness is connecting with and understanding one another. To learn more about BJC Connections groups and how to get involved, visit www.bjc.org/Connections.