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How Wells Fargo Embodies LGBTQ Pride Beyond Flags and Festivals

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 22, 2021

Whether you live in a big city or small town, once June rolls around, you'll likely see rainbow products and variations of Gilbert Baker's now-iconic Pride flag. For 30 days, it's as if the whole world turns queer. At first, the LGBTQ community embraced the attention. We had, after all, protested outside the Stonewall Inn in 1969, which was seen as a pivotal point in the gay rights movement, and have been advocating for equality ever since.

While there is a sentiment that many corporations only show up during Pride Month, others have let action narrate their LGBTQ support and engagement. From the early days of the AIDS crisis to financial planning for same-sex couples and diversity within its workforce, Wells Fargo continues to be at the forefront of advocating for and supporting the queer community. Sure, you might see a proud customer flashing their Pride collection debit card, but a tap or swipe only scratches the surface of the financial service company's LGBTQ legacy.

A Response to a Community in Crisis

June 5, 2021 marked the 40th anniversary of the CDC's first documented case of what would later be identified as HIV/AIDS. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo team members were some of the first volunteers to donate their time and money. Internally, they advocated for changes to medical leave policies and pioneered one of the nation's first corporate education and training programs to support the return of team members from medical leave in 1983.

In the late 1980s, Douglas P. Holloway, a Wells Fargo executive vice president at the time, helped steer the Shanti Project, one of the city's first AIDS social service and advocacy groups, toward financial stability. Holloway became Wells Fargo's first openly gay executive, paving the way for further representation within the company's Employee Resource Network.

"It has been an extraordinary privilege to serve on Shanti's board, to make a contribution to the AIDS crisis by helping develop policy and by helping to ensure that much-needed services continue to be delivered to people with AIDS," said Holloway at the time. More than 30 years later, Wells Fargo continues to support vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community through grants to SAGE, True Colors United, and other critical service organizations.

Proud From the Inside Out

For the 18th year in a row, Wells Fargo earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. Criteria include workforce protections, inclusive benefits, and an environment that supports an inclusive culture as well as corporate social responsibility. While those buzz words look great on an annual report, how they manifest for team members, customers and charitable partners are the real measures of success.

Tali Bray, the newly appointed head of Wells Fargo Technology Diverse Segments, Representation and Inclusion, recently shared her story about the personal and professional relevance of how these initiatives impact the LGBTQ community.

When her youngest daughter identified as transgender, Bray "had to question my own willingness to be visible and honest about my whole self. In essence, she helped me find that level of comfort in my own truth." In her new role, she is working to ensure that Wells Fargo's technology teams and leadership are comprised of the diverse talent that represents the community. Bray then helps shepherd those skills into inclusive partnerships such as those created under the Wells Fargo Foundation's Open for Business Fund, which provides needed capital, technical assistance, and long-term recovery support due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The Next Generation

While offering financial services for individuals, entrepreneurs and small businesses might be the day-to-day operations of Wells Fargo team members, the company's philanthropic foundation is equally committed to the next generation of LGBTQ leaders.

This year, the Point Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary as the nation's largest LGBTQ scholarship granting organization, investing more than $43 million in supporting students' college educations to date. Already facing disparities in education, queer youth were hit particularly hard over the past year due to the pandemic. With the support of funders like Wells Fargo, The Point Foundation created an emergency fund to assist their scholarship recipients with housing, groceries and internet access. It also pivoted to online leadership programing to continue cultivating a sense of community. The foundation also recently launched a scholarship specifically for LGBTQ BIPOC students, awarding 24 scholarships to its first class earlier this year.


With an eye on the future, Wells Fargo will soon be announcing partnership details with GLSEN to further support the organization's mission to advise on, advocate for, and research comprehensive policies designed to protect LGBTQ students as well as students of marginalized identities.

"Acknowledging our shared experience and, as importantly, creating space for different experiences is part of how we harness the full potential of an organization and the individuals of whom it's comprised," said Bray. "In the month of Pride (and every day), I hope we all find ways to highlight how we are stronger together and continue to realize the value of being seen."

For more information on Wells Fargo's resources for diverse communities, visit wellsfargo.com/empowerful.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.