A PRISM Perspective: What our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group Means to Me
Michael Solomon, Jeffrey Beisler-Snell, Mary Brown, and Tracy Rudolph.
In 2020, Synovus formed Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to deepen team members’ networks with those that share common interests and characteristics. PRISM is the LGBTQ+ ERG, comprised of members of that community and its allies. These are some of their stories.
Mary Brown, Manager, Wholesale Loan Operations
Mary Brown joined the PRISM ERG because of her granddaughter, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. “I wanted to join this group to understand the community and get some knowledge,” she says. “Sometimes, you think you’re by yourself when something is new to you.”
But in PRISM, she’s found acceptance, guidance, and empathy. It’s also been an educational and emotional experience. “I have gotten so much out of the group and learned so much. I love hearing the stories from people who have family members in the community,” she says. “It’s enlightened me and helped me have a better relationship with my granddaughter.”
Like most PRISM members, one of Mary’s favorite parts of the meetings is the storytelling. One member is encouraged per meeting to share with the group either their coming out story or how the community has touched their family’s life. “It’s all very touching and informative,” she says. “It’s almost like having a living testimony of someone who has gone through what they have, and we embrace them.”
To Mary, being an ally means being supportive, a good listener, an advocate, and a teacher, all things she does in honor of her granddaughter, including participating in Pride Month. “The only way we can learn and educate ourselves is by getting engaged,” she says.
For her, it’s simply about being open and ready to accept those in your life as they are. “You never know who is going to come into your life, maybe a family member who wants to come out. Getting involved and being aware can help you understand what they’re going through so you can help and handle the situation if it comes to you personally,” she says.
Jeffrey Beisler-Snell, Head of International Team Member Product Management and Operations and PRISM Vice-Chair
When joining Synovus, Jeffrey Beisler-Snell specifically sought out an ERG supporting the LGBTQ+ community. “I wanted to feel comfortable in a new organization,” he says, and when he found PRISM, it made him comfortable. “Not only could I find out who in the organization was in the LGBTQ+ community, but I could learn from them,” he says.
He’s enjoyed hearing team members tell their stories and has told his own about his husband and two-year-old son. “It’s been a really great way to get to know people and share within our community,” he says. Jeffrey’s been particularly impressed with the number of allies within PRISM. “Allies show their love and support, and we have a lot of that,” he says.
An additional part of PRISM is about finding ways to support the communities we serve. Recently, Synovus presented a grant to Lost n’ Found Youth, an Atlanta-based homeless shelter for teens and young adults without support systems, often due to familial rejection and lack of support from personal networks. “Lost ‘n’ Found Youth takes these teens and makes them feel like a family. It helps them get on their feet. We are able to help the organization be impactful,” Jeffery says.
For him, Pride Month is a time to celebrate achievement and how far the community has come. “Although we experience it in life every single day, it’s a time where we can spend that month and be recognized and accepted for who we are. It’s a time to be proud of who you are. My husband and I look forward to taking our son to Pride to see the community and let him be part of it.”
Michael Solomon, Retail Market Leader, Savannah
“It means a lot to me that I work for an organization that takes diversity and inclusion as seriously as it does,” says Michael Solomon. “Synovus makes it a priority, not because they have to, but because it’s the right thing to do.”
Michael got in on the ground floor with the ERGs, even having helped create the original PRISM credo. But for him, it’s not just about having a place to connect with his own community. “It’s deeper than just PRISM for me. It’s about diversity and inclusion on all spectrums for our entire company.”
He loves that ERGs are team member-led, and that you can join other ERGs to spread your wings and learn more. It’s been particularly comforting for him to see other team members and their vulnerability via PRISM meetings. He’s been particularly impressed with the PRISM allies; to him, allyship is as simple as practicing unconditional love.
For him, diversity, equity, inclusion are values that define us as a society, a company, and who he is as a person. “My experiences, along with the support of my family and friends, gave me the courage to live an authentic and honest life,” he says. “I believe we all have more in common than not and if we keep this focus, we’ll always end up in a better place. I also believe that, as individuals, we may have weaknesses, but collectively, as one, we have nothing but strengths.”
Tracy Rudolph, Senior Manager, Team Member Product Management and PRISM Treasurer
For Tracy Rudolph, joining the PRISM ERG was a no-brainer. PRISM's core values align with hers, like the group’s commitment to education, shared experiences, and genuine acceptance. She's found PRISM to be a community where all colleagues can comfortably bring their authentic selves and know they are safe. To her, the ERG’s desire for inclusivity is what makes it special.
Tracy has also been impressed by the number of allies who have joined the ERG. "It's important to note that PRISM is not limited to those who identify as LGBTQ but also allies. They are an integral part of the overall community. Those who seek to understand and ensure they're helping provide a welcoming environment for everyone have great impact. Allyship can appear in small acts, or simply having an inclusive mindset, to promote equality for all."
This time of year, Tracy reflects on the meaning of Pride Month. "To me, Pride is not only a time to celebrate fellowship with my community but also a strong reminder that all of us should be actively living and breathing acceptance every single day, month, and throughout the year. It’s a reminder to always display compassion, empathy, and acceptance. Having these reminders makes us mindful about putting our best selves forward to create an environment of which we are proud to be a part."
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