• Black and white picture of a group of people carrying a Wells Fargo banner with stagecoach.
Trailblazers

Marching with Pride and expanding LGBTQ protections

2020-06-17T12:09:27-07:00
Posted on May 21, 2020

Tim Hanlon and other employees advocated for a more LGBTQ inclusive community at Wells Fargo in the 1990s.

Alyssa Bentz
Alyssa Bentz is a Corporate Historian for Wells Fargo.
Aubrey Carrier
Aubrey Carrier is an Archivist for Wells Fargo. She also leads the Wells Fargo Oral History Program.

Every year, Wells Fargo employees join celebrations of LGBTQ PRIDE parades and events across the nation. This tradition began at Wells Fargo with a grassroots movement in 1991.

Text: Showing PRIDE, Wells Fargo PRIDE Team Member Network leads to PRIDE parade participation

In 1991, Tim Hanlon and Shannon Hickey organized a network of LGBTQ team members and allies in San Francisco

Tim Hanlon, Former Wells Fargo Executive, Served company from 1980-2015:

Shannon and I talked a lot about being happy, being unhappy, being in, being out you know, who did we tell what to, and all those kinds of angst conversations that you have when you’re young.

We talked a lot about that.  So at an AIDS walk in probably June of ’91, we thought, well, there are going to be a lot of gay and lesbian people there so let’s see if they want to talk to each other, let’s see if there is a network we could build, and we passed out flyers to anybody we could find wearing a Wells Fargo volunteer t-shirt.

We passed out the flyers and said let Tim or Shannon know if you want to be part of a network that we’ll develop.  We don’t even know what it means but we’ll try to figure that out.  Quickly we built an email distribution list that was 200 or 300 people and the very first thing we did together as a group was organize a picnic on August 18th, 1991, in Golden Gate Park.

And, you know, it was a bring-your-own-whatever-you-wanted-to-eat thing.  We barbecued and just had conversations.  What was remarkable to me were people walking around the group and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard “You’re here, I see you in the hallway all the time, I didn’t know.”  And it broke down so many personal barriers that it was just amazing what grew out of just let’s go on a picnic.

That was a turning point and I was really proud that Shannon and I together were able to do that and then, you know, things grew out of that.

Text: In 1992, Tim and others brought Wells Fargo to San Francisco’s PRIDE parade for the first time.

Tim Hanlon, Former Wells Fargo Executive, Served company from 1980-2015:

I think it was the next year in San Francisco, we had our first contingent marching in a pride parade.

So from that, from passing around flyers at an AIDS walk, to lunch in Golden Gate Park, to marching in the parade.

Most corporations were not in the parade at that point.  We were one of the first and people were, spectators were really shocked, really shocked.

We walked behind a banner.  Shannon, myself, and I don’t know who else held the banner and walked up Market Street and people applauded, people screamed, you heard lots of “That’s my bank” kind of things, and that was kind of a public coming out for Wells Fargo.

It all started when two employees met for lunch in the summer of 1991, a week after San Francisco’s annual pride parade — at the time called the International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade. Tim Hanlon and Shannon Hickey shared their desire to see a Wells Fargo group walk in the parade the following year. Just four years prior, Wells Fargo had added sexual orientation to nondiscrimination employment policies — a protection that does not exist under federal law — and Hanlon and Hickey hoped this meant that LGBTQ employees would feel comfortable and safe expressing themselves, advocating openly in the workplace, and joining a company team at the parade.

They decided that the first step in preparing for the next parade was to find interested people to join them. The Wells Fargo Foundation already donated to AIDS and HIV support groups that served LGBTQ communities, which were disproportionally affected by the epidemic. Hanlon and Hickey learned that 300 members of the company’s volunteer network were participating in an upcoming AIDS walk, so they made plans to recruit at the event.

As Wells Fargo employees gathered after the AIDS walk for a group picture, Hanlon and Hickey handed out flyers encouraging people to contact them if they were interested in getting to know fellow LGBTQ employees. The next day, they were inundated with emails. An informal picnic was arranged, and on Aug. 18, 1991, Wells Fargo’s first LGBTQ team member group held their inaugural meeting in Golden Gate Park. From that day forward, an informal group was established to share information, communicate, and leverage a unified voice to advocate for change.

Black and white picture of a group gathered under an Aids Walk San Francisco banner.

Tim Hanlon handed out flyers to employees as this picture was taken after an AIDs walk in San Francisco in 1991. Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.

A yearlong goal attained

Intent on fulfilling their vision from the previous summer, Hanlon, Hickey, and the rest of the LGBTQ team member group mobilized to form a team for the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. More than 100 employees stepped forward to walk with Wells Fargo’s group that year.

Wells Fargo employees have been marching with pride ever since. The informal group that first met in Golden Gate Park led to the formation of a local Wells Fargo PRIDE Team Member Network in the late 1990s. Today, there are more than 50 PRIDE Team Member Network chapters at Wells Fargo. Every June, hundreds of employees connected through the network walk with their local LGBTQ communities to show their pride and support.

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