To help deliver our global business objectives, ExxonMobil is committed to building and sustaining a diverse workforce. Diversity strengthens us by promoting unique viewpoints and challenging each of us to think beyond our traditional frames of reference. By fostering an inclusive work environment we leverage this diversity to create competitive advantage, enabling teams and individuals to be more innovative, resilient, and better equipped to navigate the complex and evolving global energy business. This belief is reflected in our diversity framework and talent management approach, which incorporates our employee resource groups (ERGs) and networks. Additional focus, attention and support can be helpful for specific under-represented groups, and our ERGs, which includes PRIDE (People for Respect, Inclusion and Diversity of Employees), provide this support in line with our broad talent management objectives.
Established in 2015, the PRIDE chapter at the ExxonMobil Global Business Center (GBC) in Prague is one of many chapters at the company, which globally have more than 4,000 members. The Prague PRIDE network, which consists of over 160 members, engages in a multitude of internal and external activities in the Czech Republic to support inclusion objectives and employees from the LGBT+ community. Filip Rotgeri, EAME OEM Advisor at the GBC and active member of the Prague PRIDE network, explains his reasons for joining the network, why it’s needed, and how it helps employees at ExxonMobil.
Energy Factor: When was the PRIDE chapter in Prague set up and what are its aims and objectives?
Filip Rotgeri: PRIDE was set up at the end of 2015 to help create a safe, inclusive and equal workplace for the LGBT+ community. We wanted to be there for our people in Prague – to really care for people and make it an inclusive and diverse workplace. That is really the founding idea. It makes business sense as well; diversity and inclusion in the workplace leads to better results for the business.
EF: Why is it important for a network like PRIDE to exist?
FR: We need to enable people to come to work and be themselves. That’s really important and I think it’s probably the main reason we’re doing this. Having to pretend to be someone else or disguise who you are in some way creates so much stress; if people fear being themselves in the workplace, it harms their wellbeing and it harms their job performance.
EF: Why did you personally feel it was important to become involved in the PRIDE network?
FR: Inclusion, diversity and LGBT+ issues are really close to my heart. I’m straight, but I have quite a lot of LGBT+ friends and it felt natural to engage with the network. A second aspect is that I wanted to take a stand on this issue. I think it’s important, being straight, to engage with the cause of inclusion and diversity.
EF: Which do you consider to be the Prague PRIDE chapter’s most significant achievements so far?
FR: Allowing our people to be themselves. Aiming to create an environment where our employees here can come to work and be their authentic selves and I think that was our first and biggest success. We have examples of people who have told us that this atmosphere, this openness and inclusiveness, has made them feel comfortable enough to come out in the workplace.
We’ve even had people tell us that they joined ExxonMobil in Prague because of our commitment to the LGBT+ community. That they got various job offers, but they chose us because they saw our PRIDE activities on Facebook or saw us at Prague Pride and that made them feel confident in joining ExxonMobil.
I also think we have achieved lively and healthy ally engagement. People who don’t belong to the LGBT+ community but who support our activities and events and who volunteer, which is great. Last but not least are the awards we have won. We have a non-governmental organization (NGO) called the Pride Business Forum here in the Czech Republic and ExxonMobil is a member. We have won five of their LGBT+ related awards since they started in 2018. So we are very visible in the business community.
EF: What kind of events does the Prague chapter organize and get involved in?
FR: Really quite a lot! From health-related and educational events to networking events, and events that are just for fun. At a recent educational event we had a speaker who talked about his experience of being transgender in the Czech Republic and we’ve had someone talk about living with HIV as well. We have external speakers and we also have employee-driven presentations and initiatives, including a series on being LGBT+ in various countries. We started with Brazil, then covered Poland, Hungary and other countries.
We connect and build relationships outside the workplace as well. We have a movie club, with our LGBT+ community and allies here watching movies together on a regular basis. Either virtually due to the pandemic or, hopefully as soon as possible, together in-person. We participate in a 10k fun run with the money going to an NGO that supports the LGBT+ community here in the Czech Republic. As a member of the Pride Business Forum, we also held workshops on our premises – pre-pandemic – where other companies participated. We’re now doing that virtually – but hopefully we will be able to return to meeting in person again soon.