Learn the story behind Aegon Proud, and how it’s bringing allies together.
Outside of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the last week of July and first weekend of August normally marks the dates to celebrate Amsterdam Pride week. Pride is a celebration held to proclaim the right to be who you are, regardless of your gender or of who you love. It is also about being your authentic self, one of the main tenets at Aegon and the Aegon Proud community.
Launched in 2013 by Mike Mansfield, Program Director Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, the community was looking to connect people by becoming a resource and place of support for our LGBTQ+ colleagues, as well as helping raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues. What started as a small intranet community, has now grown to over 400 members with a formalized board, and members across business units such as Transamerica Proud and Aegon UK Proud. The community draws its members from volunteers, who together, form an employee resource group consisting of LGBTQ+ and straight allies.
What do they do?
Aegon Proud keeps itself active externally with the organization and participation of events such as Pride and National Coming Out Day. "These big, annual events really bring people together and are great visibility for the other work we do. We have also run smaller events that have been very impactful like the Pride Photo exhibition, which we did a few years ago, and an event last year to talk about and support people who are part of rainbow families," says Mike Mansfield.
But internal activities are also looked after, such as monthly gatherings and the Aegon Proud allyship program, which consist of raising awareness and visibility of the support received within the company. Even if "almost half of the members are straight allies, it is one of our greatest strengths" says Mike Mansfield, adding, "their involvement brings different valuable perspectives and sends out a very strong message to others in the company that it is important to support an inclusive workplace." Maxim Buise, chair of Aegon Proud, adds, "It's a great feeling to see so many colleagues pledge their support to strengthen the Proud community."
Being your authentic self at work
"Aegon has always been supportive on an individual level. This is a large company with many different types of people. We are now in an era where colleagues, including senior managers, can champion Aegon Proud and the work we are doing." says Maxim Buise.
"Aegon has definitely allowed me to be my authentic self at work!" says Dave Heilbron.
Mike Mansfield writes, "I have worked at Aegon for almost 17 years. I have always been open and have never felt that I have been treated differently because of who I am. I even would go a step further and say that I have always been encouraged to be who I am through the support we received in setting up Aegon Proud and focusing some of our research work to answer questions about how the LGBT community is preparing for retirement. I think Aegon is a stronger company for embracing inclusion and diversity and showing that we are thinking about the future from different perspectives."