6/4/2018Community

Around the World, WeWork Gets Ready to Show Its True Colors

by Mark Sullivan

Jhonatan Cardosa gets a little emotional when he describes how it feels to be marching in this year’s São Paulo Pride Parade.

“This is the first time I’m going to march in the parade as an employee of a company,” says Cardosa. “None of the companies I’ve worked for before have been so supportive of the LGBTQ community.”

For a little less than a year, Cardosa has worked as a community lead at WeWork Brazil. He says that being part of a company that encourages employees to bring their whole selves to work makes all the difference.

“It’s nice to feel like we have the opportunity to be ourselves at work, that we don’t have to try to be somebody else,” Cardosa says.

A contingent from WeWork Brazil will join the São Paulo Pride Parade, which attracts 3 million participants every year. The massive event winds past WeWork Paulista, the building where he works.

São Paulo is one of 16 cities around the world that will be hosting events celebrating LGBTQ Pride. The festivities — ranging from brunches, rooftop soirees, and even block parties — begin in São Paulo on June 3 and wind up in Austin, Texas on August 11.

WeWork Pride 1Hundreds turned out last year to march with WeWork at New York's Heritage of Pride parade.

This month WeWork is introducing the theme of Welcome Home, drawn from Chief Operating Officer Jen Berrent’s talk at the company’s Global Summit in January that reinforced how WeWork feels like home to many people who may not have felt in previous jobs that they could bring their whole selves to work.

In addition to Pride Month, Welcome Home encompasses World Refugee Day (WeWork has pledged to hire 1,500 refugees over the next five years) and the Veterans in Residence program (giving veterans the space and services to start their own businesses).

On June 8, a group from WeWork Tel Aviv will join that city’s Pride Parade.

WeWork Pride 2Events this year include brunches, rooftop mixers, and block parties.

“This year, hundreds of thousands of beautiful people will march together with the theme of ‘community makes history,’” says Tal Sabbah, community manager at WeWork Sarona. “We are super excited to be taking part as a strong and colorful community, and to show Tel Aviv the ‘Pride of We’ for the first time.”

Two days later, employees and members at WeWork Philadelphia will be driving a custom-made float down the street during Philly Pride. It’s a momentous occasion, marking the parade’s 30th anniversary.

“We just saw the first rendering of our float, and it’s pretty amazing,” says Joshua Evans, community manager of WeWork Northern Liberties. “There are two champagne glasses big enough for people to sit in. It really shows how excited we are to be a part of the event.”

Kris Rapp, part of WeWork’s team in Los Angeles, says that last year the company sponsored three events around LA Pride. This year there are more than a dozen. Then they’ll all come together to march in the parade.

“I feel hugely grateful that WeWork provides the resources for us to be able to march,” says Rapp. “It really feels like part of our culture.”

In San Diego, WeWork’s Dylan Renfro says his team is partnering with local organizations to “celebrate and share how we can become more involved and support the San Diego LGBTQ community."

In Seattle, besides marching in the annual parade, WeWork staffers and members are coming together to clean up a local park. It’s a great way, says community kead Randy Shinn, to give back to the local community.

On a personal level, Shinn says he is thrilled to work for a company where being out at work is no big deal.

“I spent the last big chunk of my life working as a guide around remote areas of Alaska and the Yukon Territory, where I was not always fully out,” says Shinn. “Joining WeWork has allowed me to be completely authentic in my identity at all times. There is such power in being able to bring my whole self to work every day.”