Employee Voices

Fostering an Open Culture of Awareness and Inclusion

McKesson has been recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality” for the eighth year in a row.

It’s no secret that happy employees are the root of a company’s success. One of the most important ways an employer can inspire motivation, engagement and creativity is to cultivate both a diverse and inclusive workplace where people feel they can be their true selves each and every day.

But promoting such a culture is more than just smart business. At McKesson, the simple yet fundamental idea that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect has long been upheld as the inherently right thing to do.

And that includes supporting workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) employees. For the eighth year in a row, McKesson was honored as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, earning a 100 percent on the HRC’s 2021 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for its implementation of corporate policies and practices that promote LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion.

Long before last year’s Supreme Court decision extending federal protections to LGBTQ+ workers, McKesson has worked diligently to implement inclusive benefits and policies. The company not only provides strong human resources support for employees coming out or transitioning at work, but also offers health insurance for employees and their partners, including covering hormones for employees undergoing hormonal replacement therapy during their transitions. McKesson also has comprehensive anti-harassment, non-discrimination and non-retaliation policies, such as protecting preferred pronoun usage and acting against deadnaming – the use of a person’s pre-transition name.

While earning this recognition is a testament to McKesson’s leadership in fostering a diverse, inclusive and safe workplace, it’s also deeply reflective of the company living by its ICARE values. And that includes always putting its people first.

Inspiring Courage

Despite major political and societal gains toward equality and acceptance in recent years, nearly half of the country’s LGBTQ+ workers still conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity from colleagues out of fear of discrimination.

It’s a feeling McKesson employee Evalyn Keefe knows all too well.

In December of 2005, Evalyn briefly attended a company holiday party for her first job out of college. At that time, Evalyn had just begun to publicly assert her true identity as trans-feminine.

The holiday event encouraged employees to let loose and “come as you are.” Trusting the friendly invitation’s intent, she did just that. But when she entered the hotel ballroom wearing feminine attire, the reactions from her senior colleagues – ridiculing laughter, a kiss blown her way, a curt demand to change clothes or leave – were more than just deeply humiliating.

Evalyn Keefe headshot

Evalyn Keefe

“The new world around me had resolutely rejected me right as I was on the precipice of committing to what I have always known to be true about who I am,” she explains. “Fearing for my ability to survive, I decided to try and purge these parts of me to ‘fix myself’ in an image acceptable to the new society I found myself in. I quickly engaged in the most masculine activities I could find, desperate to try and rid myself of an ever-growing problem with gender dysphoria.”

It was more than four years before Evalyn found the encouragement she needed to begin reaccepting her true identity. First, she met her current partner, Kellian. And then she joined McKesson.

When she first started at the company 10 years ago, LGBTQ+ issues weren’t as visible at the Richmond, Va. office where she worked. That changed when another Richmond-based employee, Ralph Parker, established a local chapter of the company’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group (ERG), OPEN. And with it came visibility, support and a sense of community toward LGBTQ+ employees that she’d never previously seen or personally experienced.

But Evalyn notes this focus on inclusion doesn’t just stem from pockets of like-minded people within the company. It also emanates from McKesson leadership’s commitment to championing LGBTQ+ employees’ rights through its inclusive polices and benefits, including those for transgender employees.

“McKesson’s open, consistent and strong support for inclusion and diversity not only made me feel safe and comfortable coming out publicly to my colleagues, but also helped me to find the courage to begin my transition two years ago,” she says. “I have finally reached a place in my life where I feel hope for the future – I am on the right path toward a full and rewarding life as my authentic self.”

Building an Environment of Unity

When Ralph Parker joined McKesson in 2015, he saw an opportunity to not only continue his own journey as a Black LGBTQ male, but also help forge one for other LGBTQ+ employees at his office in Richmond. Less than a year later, he established a local chapter of McKesson’s OPEN ERG.

Ralph Parker headshot

Ralph Parker

“LGBTQ isn’t just a lifestyle – it’s who I am,” says Ralph, a sales administration associate on McKesson’s Extended Care team. “As a Black, gay male, I have always lived my life out loud and unapologetically. But when I first arrived at McKesson, I initially hesitated to be my true self. Once I knew my department truly accepted me and I could feel comfortable being myself, I made it my mission to help others feel unashamed of who they are as well.”

When Ralph first established the Richmond chapter of OPEN, his primary goal was to start by developing a network of allies – employees who don’t necessarily identify as LGBTQ+ themselves, but who can be instrumental players in establishing an environment where LGBTQ+ employees feel safe fully embracing their true selves.

In the years since, he’s developed a rich ally training program. Today, OPEN Richmond’s large membership can largely be attributed to allies’ strong support of their LGBTQ+ peers. In fact, OPEN chapters all across McKesson’s network are largely comprised of allies who are dedicated to fulfilling this same mission.

Rachel Petty headshot

Rachel Petty

“I am a firm believer that LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, and that it is the job of every single person at McKesson to participate in the establishment and maintenance of this culture,” says Rachel Petty, the chair of the Woodlands, Texas OPEN chapter.

Being an ally, she says, is about leading by example and modeling the behaviors needed to make LGBTQ+ employees feel they truly belong – one that celebrates who they are. And that example starts at the top.

“All humans want to feel as though they belong to an organization that truly values what makes each and every one of them unique,” she says. “I am continuously impressed by our company leadership’s recognition of people as the key to unlocking unmatched business performance. At McKesson, LGBTQ+ employees can know that their opinions and insights are valued not despite their personal identities, but because of them.”

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