Not so very long ago, a major corporate sponsor for the Pacific Pride Foundation was the Wildcat Lounge, a bar in downtown Santa Barbara.
But times have changed. These days, major employers are embracing workplace diversity, and corporations like Deckers, Morgan Stanley and hotels like the Kimpton Canary are expanding their outreach to LGBTQ employees and customers.
Funding from the Hutton Parker Foundation has given the organization permanent offices, and it now boasts a full-time staff and a budget of more than $1.5 million. Diversity organizations have popped up in Ventura and San Luis Obispo as diversity issues have become more mainstream.
We want to take a moment during Pride Month to recognize the increased role that workplace diversity plays in managing a company or nonprofit in the 21st century.
During a recent visit with Collette Schabram, executive director of Pacific Pride, we gained some insights into how area companies are building successful workplace diversity efforts.
• They are allowing employees to drive the process. For corporations or nonprofit organizations that often means creating employee support groups. Others have embraced more high-profile events.
• They have an ongoing commitment to supporting LGBTQ issues. That means more than just a Pride Month event or a one-off program. That means expanding resources available to employees year round.
• They are connecting regionally and nationally. Workplace diversity programs are proliferating across industries such as hospitality, financial services and even utilities. The programs that are popping up in the Bay Area and Southern California are accessible across the Central Coast.
The business of pride is an emerging theme for employers in a variety of industries, particularly in technology and design. Embracing diversity is important for consumer-facing organizations such as hotels and banks where LGBTQ clients are valuable customers with plenty of discretionary income to spend and invest.
Companies that launch workplace diversity efforts are likely to find support from parents of gay, lesbian and transgender children who want to see their kids become successful and financially independent when they leave school.
The business of pride has arrived on the Central Coast. It is going to become an emerging trend in workplace management.
HOUSING BOOM UNDERWAY
Even as Google announced a $1 billion investment in Bay Area workforce housing, there are signs of a construction boomlet on the Central Coast.
Limoneira has opened up its Harvest development, a multi-year, multi-phase effort to build some 1,500 residences in the largest residential construction project in Ventura County. That comes as Camarillo, Ventura and Thousand Oaks are embracing new housing projects.
Meanwhile, new construction is popping up on Anacapa and De La Guerra streets in downtown Santa Barbara, complementing new projects in Goleta.
Santa Maria has begun looking at a second phase for its recent building boom, and San Luis Obispo is embracing new housing as well.
Projects announced so far are still far short of meeting demand. But amid available capital for construction and stable prices, it is a good sign.