HOUSTON — As a part of the “Our Story Our History” June series focusing on Pride month, KHOU 11 got up close and personal with one LGBTQ + allies group at Amegy Bank.
This group shares how they are not only changing lives in the Houston community but the lives of their employees too. KHOU 11’s Ugochi Iloka was invited to sit in on Amegy Bank’s recent LGBTQ+ business resource group meeting.
There were a lot of laughs as members shared good times and new ideas.
“Our group is strongly supported by allies, not just people who identify,” one member said.
Their BRG gets together to not only promote diversity within the company but in the community too by participating in food bank events, homeless shelter volunteer work, and so much more.
“Our main focus at the beginning was focusing on the community. So, getting our banks branding outside in the community,” Amegy Bank LGBTQ+ BRG Co-chair Kenrick Jacobs said.
And it worked.
“One thing we are really proud of and something I was a part of is being the very first bank part of the chamber,” another member said.
Partnering with the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce has allowed their group to promote DEI initiatives outside their bank walls.
“If you’re out trying to bring in business through the LGBT community, ally, or someone who identifies, the word business just seems more externally inclusive,” Amegy Bank LGBTQ+ BRG Chair Clay Melder said.
What started out as a simple networking opportunity, turned into a safe space improving the lives of Amegy employees.
“I did not grow up feeling accepted. I always felt like something was wrong with me,” Melder said.
When Melder and allies BRG heard one of his group members, who rarely speaks say this in the meeting, he couldn’t help but get choked up.
“I was not out when I joined the BRG, so, it kind of made me more comfortable at work to be who I was. It’s always in the back of your mind. 'Oh my God. How is my manager going to react? How is my coworker going to react when they find out who I’m dating,'” member Shelby said.
“Anytime I hear stuff like that, just to be frank, we work really hard and that’s why,” Melder said as he wiped his eyes.
Discrimination because of sexual orientation is something hopefully Amegy employees, such as the co-chair Jacobs, who will be moving into Melder’s role soon, don’t have to worry about.
This is all thanks to a special group of people working to create an inclusive environment at Amegy Bank.
“It means a lot to be around a group of people with leadership that accepts you for who you are,” Jacobs said.
Paying it forward to keep this positive culture of acceptance at work going, with allyship doubling in the last two years.