Alyssa Bentz is a Corporate Historian for Wells Fargo.
Every year, Wells Fargo team members join celebrations of LGBTQ pride by participating in parades and events across the nation. This tradition began with a grassroots movement to march in the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade and led to the formation of Wells Fargo’s PRIDE Team Member Network.
It all started when two team members 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 team members 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, and 300 members of the company’s volunteer network were participating in an upcoming AIDS walk. Hanlon and Hickey made plans to recruit at the event.
As Wells Fargo team members 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 team members. 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.
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 team members stepped forward to walk with Wells Fargo’s group that year.
Team members asked the marketing department to arrange for the stagecoach to come to the after-parade celebration for pictures with the public, and CEO Carl Reichardt agreed.
Andy Anderson, who was head of marketing at the time and marched in the parade, said, “I remember marching with my wife, Ginny, and a contingent of about 40 Wells Fargo employees (we weren’t yet team members) and just being overwhelmed by the goodwill of the people who took out and waved their Wells Fargo credit cards and ATM cards at us as we passed. When we got to the end, we set up the stagecoach for photos, and hundreds of people came by to have their picture taken. The whole day was an amazing experience.”
Wells Fargo team members 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, and June hundreds of people connected through the network will walk with their local LGBTQ communities to show their pride.