Celebrating Pride Month at North Highland

In honor of Pride Month, we connected  Zach Johnson and Tori Davis, who are members of North Highland’s PRIDE Alliance to learn more about their involvement and experience within the group, the significance of Pride Month, how they’ve celebrated and more. Let’s meet Zach and Tori!

[Note: The following has been edited for length and clarity]

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Zach Johnson

I’m an Analyst in the Academy at North Highland and a member of North Highland’s PRIDE Alliance, and I joined the firm in May 2019. With PRIDE Alliance, I’ve taken the lead role on some of our efforts and helped to shape the initiatives we’ve established. The great thing about the dynamic we’ve established is that I get to be part of a team of leaders that represent so many different levels and areas of the firm. We are all, in my mind, a team of leaders.

I had an interest in joining North Highland’s PRIDE Alliance from the moment I was hired in May of 2019 – during that time, activity was ramping down for the group. In early 2020, the group’s executive sponsor, Jill Jacques, did a call to action for all those who wanted to participate in the group’s revitalization. During a kickoff call in February, there was so much energy, enthusiasm, and creative thought around what we could do to get it up and moving, I couldn’t help but to dive in!

My goals for the PRIDE Alliance have been met - and exceeded! I wanted to join an employee resource group that could thoughtfully and collaboratively develop a mission – one commensurate with that of the firm’s and one that clearly outlined how to drive inclusion and diversity for LGBTQ+ employees at North Highland. I am constantly blown away with this team’s contributions to that mission.

Our goals for 2020 are to not only drive awareness and knowledge around how the firm can foster a more inclusive working environment, but to also educate our colleagues on the journey to equality for the LGBTQ+ community, how to be an ally to someone in the LGBTQ+ community and align with our fellow employee resource groups to synergize on bolstering North Highland’s image and reputation that universally embraces inclusion and diversity.

In the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the brightest, most insightful minds that I ever have in my 10-year professional career. In North Highland’s PRIDE Alliance Group, we share our insights on a deeper level; we carefully leverage our backgrounds, our emotions and our stories to provoke moving conversations and produce amazing work that truly adds value to the firm and to our community. Being a part of the PRIDE Alliance only re-affirms my belief that North Highland isn’t just my workplace, it’s my home.

For Pride Month this year, rather than traveling to different cities to celebrate with friends, I’ve been trying to educate myself more deeply on the history of why we get to celebrate Gay Pride and the fight and struggle it took (and still takes) to get to a place to be able to celebrate. Of course, I’m also participating in Zoom Pride celebrations with friends as well!

 Outside of North Highland, I’m currently a member of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) which represents a force of more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

 I encourage anyone who is interested in joining the firm's PRIDE Alliance to get involved. We welcome ALL!

 

Tori Davis

I am an analyst in the Academy, a team lead on my engagement at a large financial services provider and the Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Champion of North Highland's Charlotte office. I am also a member of the PRIDE Alliance leadership team.

When the PRIDE Alliance re-vamped this year, I joined the kickoff call and knew immediately that I wanted to get involved in a greater capacity. Once the structure started to take place and the core team formed, I was brought in to share the Allyship Toolkit our Charlotte I&D team developed. I saw an opportunity for the PRIDE Alliance to utilize some of the information in their upcoming series and have been joining the meetings ever since!

My goals within the PRIDE Alliance are to nudge our firm to approach PRIDE (and I&D efforts on the whole) with the theory of intersectionality in mind, meaning we recognize and draw lines to connect understanding around the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap or intersect – especially in the experiences of marginalized individuals or groups. Additionally, my goal is to engage the firm via the concept of Allyship to make progress for people who do not fit into the majority group of white/cisgender/hetero professionals.  

Getting the opportunity to work alongside compassionate, brave and talented people in the PRIDE Alliance has been a tremendously rewarding experience. This group has created a space to be vulnerable and makes me feel that I am actively contributing to the positive progress here at North Highland.

During Pride Month this year, I have been focusing most of my time, money, attention, and energy on race related events – but I have also donated to my local LGBTQ+ youth homeless shelter (Time Out Youth), watched the documentary “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson” and the show “Pose” on Netflix, supported my favorite (and only) local lesbian bar by attending their charity car wash and had a Chromatica (Lady Gaga’s newest album) virtual dance party with my besties.

Outside of North Highland, I am actively involved in supporting my local LGBTQ+ community. I have volunteered and donated to a group since college called Campus Pride and stay engaged with Time Out Youth. Additionally, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by a strong LGBTQ+ community of friends here in Charlotte so I focus on supporting their ventures, passions and anything they need (art, fitness, cooking, beauty, childcare are examples).

I encourage everyone to get involved in supporting Pride and the LGBTQ+ community! Research LGBTQ+ businesses to support, find LGBTQ+ communities that align to your interest, seek out affirming places of faith, attend PRIDE events, check out books, articles, films, tv shows, and podcasts about LGBTQ+ issues and perspectives, and consider donating to local / national LGBTQ+ charities. To North Highlanders interested in joining the PRIDE Alliance team, I would direct them to Zach Johnson so they can be added to our meeting series. I would also encourage folks to interact with their respective office’s I&D Champion to get plugged into Inclusion and Diversity efforts.