When I was 21 years old, I didn’t know where my life would take me. I was a college student, I needed a job, and I had just come out of the closet. Needing some extra money for the summer, I applied for a seasonal job at Gap – little did I know that summer job would lead to a life-long career and help me become the confident and successful man I am today.
For the last 25 years, Gap Inc. has invested in me, providing unwavering support of my professional pursuits and personal life. During my tenure, I’ve lived in some progressive places and some not-so progressive places, yet, regardless of the societal biases that might have existed in some of those places, around the LGBT community, I’ve never been treated any differently inside the four walls our business.
As a Vice President of Stores at Old Navy, I’ve never had to worry that the company might fire me for being gay or if my husband, Jerad, and I would receive health benefits. I’ve always been encouraged to be myself – and better than that, I’ve been celebrated for being myself. Since 1994, Old Navy’s mission has been to democratize style. To us, that means everyone is welcome and should feel like they belong the moment they enter our stores, try on our clothes, and experience the Old Navy brand.
At Gap Inc. being an inclusive company isn’t optional. For us, striving for equality is just as much of a business imperative today as it was 50 years ago when the company was founded. This is why Gap Inc. and Old Navy are proud founding members of Open to All – a coalition of businesses and communities affirming their belief that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be open to everyone on the same terms. Today, all our stores proudly display the Open to All decal on our windows so all who enter know that they are welcome to be themselves in our stores. We know the importance of standing for what is right.
Yesterday, the U.S Supreme court heard three cases focused on LGBTQ discrimination and protection for employees. There is an enormous amount at stake here. LGBTQ people could lose protections against discrimination that they’ve relied on in many cases for two decades. Going back to 2000, federal appeals courts have ruled that anti-trans discrimination is a form of sex discrimination that violates federal law, providing a remedy for trans workers fired for who they are.
I had the incredible honor of standing on the steps of the Supreme Court and rallying in support of rights for LGBTQ people in the workplace. Standing in front of the Supreme Court building listening to the other presenters, some of whom talked about their own workplace discrimination was a sobering experience. And, it was a reminder that the work to ensure that all are treated equally can never be done.
Gap Inc. and Old Navy believe that our businesses succeed when everyone has the chance to stand as equals and thrive. And, we remain committed to doing our part to not only make continuous improvements across our company but within our industry.