Each June, BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, along with countless other organizations across the U.S., celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Whether this means sponsoring a LGBTQ+ organization, organizing special company-wide events, or encouraging employees to be their authentic selves at work, celebrating diversity and fostering an environment of inclusion is not limited to one action, month or day. At BluePearl, promoting a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EI&D) is a priority for leadership and its Associates each and every day of the year.
While programs and actions that support the LGBTQ+ community are being taken at the corporate level, BluePearl’s inclusive culture is continuously being upheld by bold and brave Associates at the hospital level.
For instance, married couple, Courtney Dugan, LVT, Licensed Veterinary Patient Care Coordinator and Cole Dugan, Veterinary Assistant I, of BluePearl in Delaware, say that living #BPride is easy because, "We have felt included and accepted here at BluePearl since day one! We love our work family and can be ourselves completely, and not worry about being treated differently.”
When it comes to practicing inclusion and diversity, Courtney and Cole say, "We practice inclusion and diversity every day by treating others with kindness and respect no matter what their sexuality, gender, race, or ethnicity. We feel it is very important to have a sense of community whether it's in the workplace or everyday life.”
Another Associate, Danielle DeCormier, Regional Training Partner, BluePearl P&O Operations and Services, says she feels being her authentic self at work plays a large part in how she promotes inclusion and diversity every day.
"I practice inclusion and diversity every day by always being true to my identity and encouraging others to do so. The most noticeable way I do this is my ever-changing hair color and being shameless when speaking up for those who are afraid to use their own voices. You can’t “see” my bisexuality, but you can watch my actions and hear my words when speaking,” said Danielle.
As a leader in the veterinary technician community, Danielle says she leads by example, making sure she shows team members that they do not have to be afraid or hide any part of who they are.
"None of us can do our jobs to the best of our ability if we are afraid of being judged for our identity instead of our knowledge and amazing ability to care for our patients. BluePearl has been my home away from home and has brought me so many of my chosen family and support system,” said Danielle. “I am proud of who I am and proud of my company.”
Client Service Coordinator at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center South Hills, Emily Shade, agrees. "I practice inclusion every day by being confident in who I am – although this did not always come easy. Doing this allows me to start conversations with the aim to educate but also to learn from the perspectives of my family, friends, and coworkers. I also help to create the artwork and informational pieces for the Holidays/Events celebrated at PVSEC South, such as creating a ‘color your drag queen’ competition for Pride 2021. I am very happy that I work at a place that is so inclusive and celebrates all types of people.”
Veterinary Technician Manager at BluePearl in Midtown NYC, Jayson Bennett, CVT, also shares how he is committed to taking inclusive actions in his hospital, saying, "As a Veterinary Technician Manager, I focus on diversity and inclusion with everything I do. It's important to me that my team feels seen and heard no matter who they are or how they identify. We actively seek out diverse talent that will bring a wide variety of cultures, experiences, and perspectives to our teams. BluePearl emboldens me to bring my experiences with LGBTQ+ non-profits and public engagement initiatives into my work as a veterinary nurse and a manager by providing me with the opportunity and funding to celebrate diversity in our workplace.”
Dana Karr, Veterinary Technician Supervisor at BluePearl in Overland Park, KS, practices authenticity and supports others on their individual journey saying, "I practice inclusivity and diversity everyday by not shying away from who I am in public. I also don't allow others to hide. Encouraging people to be proud of themselves and to be authentic only supports how they identify. I am a strong believer in if it doesn't hurt you or the people around you, do what makes you happy!”
BluePearl is proud that many of the everyday actions of its Associates have translated to broader initiatives within individual practices – and beyond! At the organizational level, BluePearl has taken steps to build safe and supportive work environments for its more than 100+ hospitals, continuously providing its Associates with EI&D resources.
As Emily Shade alluded to, the essence of #BPride is a desire to educate as well as learn from each other. This could be through company-directed and outside resource groups or educational speaking events. For example, Banfield, VCA and BluePearl are proud annual supporters of the PRIDE Veterinary Medical Community (PrideVMC).
In early 2021, BluePearl created its EI&D Council to serve as the voice of its more than 7,000 Associates nationwide. Recent EI&D Council actions include Associate selection of pronoun preferences for the BluePearl database, nametags, and email signatures, as well as mandatory “Fundamentals of EI&D Training.” This essential training includes online educational materials to support inclusive language, behaviors, and practices.
Telling their story, Conrad Brunson, Kennel Assistant at Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center North Hills, PA, explains the critical importance of pronouns in living an authentic life.
"My name isn’t Claire, it’s Conrad. It’s the name I chose for myself, and it may not even be the last. My pronouns are they, them, and theirs. These are not optional things that I prefer to be called, they simply are what I am to be called. And yet, until now, I have been too afraid to ask others to respect that. My courage to ask for the basic human respect of using my name, however, hasn’t come from the environment at my hospital, it’s come from specific people whom I am thankful support me at work. I truly do believe that BluePearl has provided a somewhat progressive space for their employees, however as probably any Queer person knows, it is not fully there yet.”
During Pride Month – and every day of the year – BluePearl celebrates Associates like Conrad Brunson, Emily Shade, Danielle DeCormier, Courtney and Nicole Dugan, Dana Karr, and Jayson Bennett, for their diversity, contributions, and strength. While there is still much work to be done, BluePearl is working alongside other veterinary organizations to ensure practices are welcoming of diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, cultures, personal histories and lived experiences.
Follow along and read more Associates stories by searching the hashtag #BPride on Facebook.