Western Union has been supporting and participating in the LGBTQ+ community festival Baltic Pride for several years. Sergej Sidorov, Leader of Western Union in Lithuania, says that he is proud of the company’s culture, which encourages collaboration between representatives of various nations and cultures.
Adrian Muller, Global Sanctions Advisory Group Leader, and Western Union Lithuania Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Lead says that support for LGBTQ+ people does not end with annual Pride Month events. As a company, Western Union Lithuania ensures that its policies, practices, and benefits create greater equity for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their families.
Why is it important for you to support Baltic Pride? What motivated your company to support the local LGBTQ+ community?
Sergej Sidorov: We have been participating in and supporting Baltic Pride for several years now. One of the key things in our company is to consider the interests of our employees by hearing their needs, providing the freedom to be themselves, and creating a safe space to express what matters to them. The Baltic Pride event, in my opinion, provides this opportunity as well.
Adrian Muller: Western Union envisions a culture of global unity and boundless connection and believes in equal opportunities for every person. Being a part of Baltic Pride is one of the ways that we can stand together with the LGBTQ+ community and contribute to building a more inclusive society.
What other external or internal initiatives do you take to promote equality for LGBTQ+ people?
Sergej Sidorov: Every year we organize Pride month events within our organization – these events are very close to my heart. For several years, the events were held online, and this year we were thrilled to organize an in-person event with a special guest – the US Ambassador to Lithuania Robert S. Gilchrist. His visit was extremely important to us as we got a chance to better understand the experiences of LGBTQ+ people and the constant struggle for equality through hearing his personal stories. I think it’s important to share real stories like this with all employees, regardless of whether they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community – for some, it can be an encouragement to become vocal about other issues as well.
Adrian Muller: Support for LGBTQ+ people does not end with annual internal and external Pride Month events.
As a company, we ensure that our policies, practices, and benefits create greater equity for LGBTQ+ colleagues and their families. For several years we have been awarded „Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality by Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index“.
We are active members of Lithuania‘s Diversity Charter where we learn and share best practices with other organizations. As well as publicly state our support towards LGBTQ+ matters such as implementing the Law of Civil Partnership.
Additionally, we share opportunities with our colleagues on how they can donate and volunteer at LGBTQ+ organizations.
Finally, we believe that one of the key aspects that can help promote equality for LGBTQ+ people is raising awareness and education. Therefore, together with our Leaders and other committees, we drive various educational campaigns on LGBTQ+ related topics such as inclusive language, pronouns, allyship, issues facing the LGBTQ+ community, etc.
What are your main priorities in the field of equal opportunities?
Adrian Muller: Our focus is on engaging employees around issues that are meaningful to them and supporting an inclusive culture where employees can thrive and be themselves.
Sergej Sidorov: Both globally and in Lithuania, we devote a lot of time and attention to the topic of equal opportunities, as mentioned before, we as an organization support equal opportunities for all people. Every year we have several events to broaden our awareness and discuss what action each one of us and the organization can take to build equal opportunities. We also have specific goals that we are working towards, which are: to increase gender diversity in leadership, maintain equal pay, and seek to support the ethnic diversity of our organization.
I strongly believe that every company must hold a space for conversations with its employees regarding equal opportunities and other important subjects as well as express opinions publicly.
What measures are you taking to promote diversity, inclusion, and equality in the workplace?
Adrian Muller: Western Union advances Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a variety of ways, including through our policies and practices in hiring, training, promotion, and compensation. Additionally, we have allyship, mentorship, and sponsorship programs to further build our culture of inclusion, drive engagements, and support equity in opportunity. In support of our commitment to transparency around diversity, we publicly released our Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO-1) survey for the first time in early 2022.
What challenges have you faced in implementing diversity and inclusion policies? What did you learn from them? What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Sergej Sidorov: One of the achievements that I am most proud of is the company’s culture, which encourages collaboration between representatives of various nations and cultures. I think that this is proof that we are an equal opportunity employer – we have employees with different viewpoints, nationalities, and abilities. Many of them are not citizens of Lithuania, but when they relocated here, they found a community, an environment where they feel great to live in. Our approach to life is the same, we accept and value any person equally, and we strive to provide a great and comfortable experience working in our company.
The main challenge remains to hold conversations about equal opportunities and rights – there are never too many discussions and conversations about this issue. The important thing is to create as many opportunities as possible to participate directly in these activities and continue expanding our knowledge about them.
Often, we don’t notice the diversity we live in, especially outside Lithuania. Our employees have the unique opportunity to work with people, companies, and clients from all over the world and we learn a lot from that. It allows us to realize how diverse the world is, and to better understand representatives of different cultures.
The article was prepared under the framework of the project Baltic Pride 2022 Communication Campaign, funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.