Celebrating Pride Month: Hilton Team Members Talk Diversity, Visibility and Allies with Civil Rights Activist Kristin Beck
As individuals around the world celebrate Pride Month, recognizing the rich diversity and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community, Hilton celebrated by hosting guest speaker and “Lady Valor” Kristin Beck at McLean corporate headquarters to hear about her journey to living her truth as a transgender woman.
A retired United States Navy SEAL, Kristin served for more than 20 years in the Special Operations Forces, including SEAL Team 6, prior to her current work as a civil rights activist.
Sharing personal anecdotes, Kristin emphasized the importance of diversity, visibility and allies for members of the LGBTQ+ community. She noted the power of organizations like Hilton, using their platforms to promote inclusivity and through their visibility show the next generation that individuals of all walks of life can be themselves and be happy, both in their personal and professional lives.
“You have thousands of hotels around the world. Having that worldwide audience makes you a leader,” Kristin said. “It’s not a bad thing to brag about how LGBTQ-friendly you are and that you want to make your family bigger. If I was growing up and saw one successful person that was a little bit like me, it would have made my life so much easier.”
Read on for more of the powerful takeaways Kristin shared at the event, hosted by the McLean chapters of Hilton’s LGBTQ+ Friends Team Member Resource Group and the Military Team Member Resource Group. The groups represent two of Hilton’s organizations dedicated to fostering a collaborative environment, promoting professional goals and providing insights to the organization from each group’s perspective.
- Be diverse in your own backyard. Kristin encouraged individuals to mirror the work that she did in the military – reach out, ask questions and get to know people who are different from you to build bridges and make peace. Develop understanding and compassion towards those who are different from you while you are in the safe space of your workplace or community because, “that diversity, having different people come together, makes you so much stronger.”
- You can make a difference by being an ally, with a simple smile or gesture of inclusion. Kristin recounted an instance when a leader took the time to bring her back into the circle and acknowledge her while at a gathering of fellow SEALs, and how that acceptance was not only meaningful to Kristin, but prompted other colleagues to be more accepting. “That’s something great that you have at Hilton, you have these allies here. You’ve had this Team Member Resource Group since 2011, to support one another. That’s so vital.”
- Replace the “in the closet” metaphor with Kristin’s “great room” concept. Closets can be small, dark places. Coming out into the world from that space can understandably feel scary, and it can seem challenging for supporters to enter. Instead of a closet, think about every individual having a symbolic great room. With a great room, you can invite people into your room in your own time, as allies. As you build up your community of support, the room grows larger and the walls move outward until your support system is so large that you are comfortable being your authentic self with everyone.
- Live a full life as your authentic self. Kristin’s equation for a “life fully lived,” includes relationships with friends and families, creating some discipline and structure in your days, showing gratitude for who you are as an individual and pursuing a mission, such as her own, to promote happiness and wellbeing for others. Through its Thrive@Hilton program, Hilton also supports the wellbeing of all Team Members, with an environment where all can thrive, belong and bring their full, authentic selves to work.
Hilton, having recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, builds on founder Conrad Hilton’s vision to “fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality,” by promoting diversity, inclusion and belonging throughout the organization, as well as in the marketplace. Many Hilton properties are participating in Pride celebrations this season, including Capital Pride weekend in Washington, DC and WorldPride in New York.
Hilton is proud to be a Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality, having recently been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign with a perfect score on the Corporate Equality Index for the sixth consecutive year, and has also been recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion by DiversityInc, being named a Top 50 Company for Diversity for the fifth consecutive year in 2019. Learn more about Diversity and Inclusion at Hilton here.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 17 world-class brands comprising nearly 5,900 properties with more than 939,000 rooms, in 114 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list, and has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 94 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.Download Article Photos