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Partners in Respect: Wells Fargo

Wells FargoAt the 2011 Respect Awards Los Angeles, GLSEN honored Wells Fargo & Company with the Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award for its 25 years of support to the LGBT community, its continued focus on an inclusive and accepting workplace environment for nearly 280,000 team members and its extensive investment in GLSEN’s programs to make schools safer for LGBT students.   

This year, the GLSEN-Wells Fargo partnership has been highlighted by three events. In June, the Wells Fargo Foundation awarded GLSEN a three-year $1.5 million grant, the largest institutional commitment in GLSEN’s history. The funds will support GLSEN’s programs to ensure that all students in communities across the country are valued and respected, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. 

Executive Director Eliza Byard expressed gratitude to the Wells Fargo Foundation, noting that “this investment from Wells Fargo is an extraordinary vote of confidence in the significance, quality and on-going impact of our work, and it speaks to Wells Fargo’s deep commitment to education and the critical difference that a safe school may make in the success of an LGBT student.”

Wells Fargo also designated GLSEN as one of its national partners, along with a roster of 12 other nonprofits that support education and LGBT youth: NAACP, National Council of La Raza, Teach For America, National Urban League, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, United Negro College Fund, Rainbow Push Coalition, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, and Point Foundation.

The GLSEN-Wells Fargo partnership was also “out and proud” during LGBT Pride 2013. Across the country, Wells Fargo sponsored 50 Pride events, and in some cities, teamed up with and marched alongside community organizations, including GLSEN, to raise awareness for anti-bullying efforts in support of LGBT students. Other organizations participating in the Wells Fargo alliance were the It Gets Better Project, Point Foundation, The Trevor Project and Teach for America. The collaboration used co-branded advertisements, posters, t-shirts and banners to reach audiences at Pride events and in communities where Wells Fargo was sponsoring Pride. More than 300 representatives of GLSEN National and GLSEN Chapters participated in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego and Las Vegas. “It’s important for a company as visible as Wells Fargo to help shed light on the progress of the LGBT community. Collaboration with our community partners makes this possible,” said Mark Ng, Wells Fargo LGBT Segment Manager.

In 2010, Wells Fargo’s early and generous support also enabled GLSEN to launch the Safe Space Campaign, a three-year effort to ensure that every student in America would be safe at school. In October 2013, GLSEN will complete the campaign, having placed Safe Space Kits in more than 61,000 secondary schools that serve 25 million students. 

Wells Fargo’s partnership with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reflects a shared vision for impacting the LGBT community in meaningful ways and speaks to a corporate commitment to education. “We believe in the transformative power of education, which can open minds, expand horizons, and create opportunities. Education also has the power to save lives,” said Bob Chelbowski, Wells Fargo’s executive vice president and member of GLSEN’s board of directors. “Some might ask why Wells Fargo cares so much about bullying and safe schools. The answer is that we care about the future. When students learn the value of inclusiveness at school, they carry it with them throughout life. When children start appreciating diversity, they approach the world with a more open mind. Investing in our students today is a down payment to ensure we have an inclusive workforce and society tomorrow.”

Wells Fargo’s commitment to diversity starts within the corporation. Over the last 25 years, Wells Fargo has increasingly implemented internal and external programs that demonstrate the company’s commitment to LGBT team members and the community. In 2013, DiversityInc ranked Wells Fargo No.1 in its Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees and No. 25 in the Top 50 Companies for Diversity. Wells Fargo is also committed to increasing diversity among all levels of management, identifying high-potential leaders at the mid- to senior-management levels and preparing them for executive roles through career development, rotation programs, mentoring and training.