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Celebrating our authentic selves this Pride Month

By Emily Gallo, SVP and general manager, Cardinal Health OptiFreight Logistics

Each year I look forward to the month of June to celebrate Pride Month and recognize the LGBTQ+ community and its allies both within Cardinal Health and the communities we serve. This month is important to me both personally and professionally. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, Pride Month serves as an important reminder that when we create environments where individuals can show up as their authentic selves, our workplaces and communities can thrive.

A few months ago, I was presented the great honor of being named the executive sponsor of PROUD, Cardinal Health’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group, and what a privilege it has been. The progress created with support from PROUD’s prior Executive Sponsor, Steve Mason, CEO, Global Medical Products & Distribution, is nothing short of incredible. I have witnessed firsthand the change that the dedicated, passionate PROUD leadership team and members have inspired within the walls of Cardinal Health and beyond. Working with PROUD has showcased for me that when we are empowered to show up in our day-to-day lives as our true, authentic selves, we are more creative, more successful, and we can truly thrive both personally and professionally.

And while there is a lot to celebrate during Pride Month, there’s still much work to be done in advocating and protecting LGBTQ+ rights. We’ve seen incredible progress over the last few decades, but in recent years, it can feel more like one step forward, two steps back. Whether you’re a member or ally of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s now more important than ever to stay abreast of state and federal legislation impact and advocate for the health and well-being of our colleagues, family members, and communities.

I’ve long been a champion of creating a company culture that celebrates our differences and leans into diversity as a strength. As the executive sponsor of PROUD, I hope to maintain this group’s strong momentum and continue making Cardinal Health a place where LGBTQ+ individuals and allies feel both welcomed and valued. Here, some of my LGBTQ+ colleagues share why that’s so important.

Kayla Roberts

Senior Representative, Customer Service Operations, at-Home Solutions, Twinsburg, Ohio

Roberts is part of a team that helps bridge the gap between home health nurses and suppliers: When a nurse places an order for medical products, the at-Home Solutions customer service team matches the patients insurance to a supplier who can provide the requested products and ensure seamless delivery. 

Because we all spend so much time at work, representation and community in the workplace are very important. Belonging to PROUD gives me that community, where I feel accepted, safe and respected; I am surrounded by so many who are also a part of the LGBTQ+ community and those who are allies.

PROUD works to make sure that its members are seen, heard and represented within the company. I love that PROUD encourages us to come as we are. There are no requirements or expectations, and you can be as involved as you want to be. I am privileged: I have a support system and a very loving family and circle of friends where I feel comfortable enough to be very open. Not everyone is comfortable with or able to do that – PROUD encourages everyone to create their own journey.

Each June, PROUD organizes flag raisings at multiple Cardinal Health facilities, including our headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. Seeing so many people – including our leaders – gathering to raise the Progress Pride flag in such a public display of support makes me realize how committed the company is to inclusion.

My involvement with PROUD has encouraged me to seek ways to help the LBGTQ+ community. I am currently studying to become a forensic psychologist: With so much discussion around policies that take away the rights that we’ve worked so hard for, I am eager to use my knowledge of the law and psychology to help fight back. 

Joseph Sioco Marbid

Senior Specialist, Knowledge Management, Cardinal Health International Philippines (CHIP) Team, Taguig, Philippines

Marbid – known as Sese to his friends and colleagues – manages information that customer services teams need to effectively and accurately respond to customers’ issues. His work also ensures seamless transitions and implementation of business policies and procedures.

Bringing our authentic selves to work helps us be transparent, honest and fair. It allows us to perform well, build relationships, and grow internally. Being a part of PROUD makes me feel that I’m always involved and welcomed. And when you’re being heard and included, there’s nothing more you can ask for.

In 2018, I went with other CHIP employees to join the annual Metro Manila Pride March and Festival in Metro Manila; it was the first time I joined the Pride March. It felt surreal to see so many people in the community being themselves, celebrating love and acceptance. The following year, I represented the LGBTQ+ community as part of CHIP’s corporate recruitment advertisement. I was quoted about how Cardinal Health is true to its values, including inclusion – and I believe that has helped us recruit new talent to the organization.

I am active with a community service group called “Project I Can,” which creates and implements programming for indigenous and local communities around the Philippines. I’m also dancer, a thespian and a singer – and I really appreciate that at Cardinal Health, I am surrounded by people who understand my energy and my dynamics.

David Allison

Representative II, Customer Service Operations, Inventory Management, Salt Lake City, Utah

As a customer service representative, Allison is the face of the pharmacy distribution center where he works. He works hard to fix customer issues, whether that means getting an emergency order for a lifesaving drug to a customer or finding missing totes.

I became involved with the PROUD ERG because, as a gay man, I wanted to work with an organization that supports employees in bringing their authentic selves to work every day. I like knowing that my company and our ERG stand behind anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ or as an LGBTQ+ ally.

Our June flag raising is really powerful. It means so much to me to be part of a company that says to the world, “We are proud of our LGBTQ+ employees and we stand behind them 100%.” Belonging to PROUD has strengthened my sense of belonging at Cardinal Health; it makes me feel valued, needed, accepted, and supported.

As a membership co-chair of PROUD, my job is to help new members get involved, and prepare a new generation of leaders – and, by doing so, help retain talent at Cardinal Health. Belonging to PROUD has given me a great network of colleagues who show others in the company, and at other companies around the world, that we are accepted and valued. We belong here and in the world.

I love helping in the community, and I volunteer heavily with Utah AIDS Foundation Legacy Health, Utah’s first LGBTQ+ health clinic, as well as with Equality Utah, an organization that fights to make Utah safe, with equal opportunities and rights for all.

Rebecca O’Linn

Senior Analyst, Data Management and Governance, Dublin, Ohio

O’Linn (also known as Mouse) helps to ensure that Cardinal Health’s customer data is correct, accurate, and of high quality – so that the customers’ transactions with Cardinal Health go smoothly.

I am a member of PROUD because I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and an ally for others. Belonging to PROUD allows me to see just how interconnected folks really are. There are LGBTQ+ members throughout the world who work at Cardinal Health because they know it is a safe and brave space. I know I can go anywhere within Cardinal Health and be treated the same way. That means I can live authentically.

Living authentically is moving through the world without the extra burdens of stigma and fear. It allows you to heal, to become joyful within your own skin, to be strong enough to support others, and to push back against the systems that create the burden of being “other.”

When I first started working at Cardinal Health nine years ago, I wasn’t out to anyone except my closest friends and partners. I felt very small and weighed down from wearing the heavy masks to hide who I was. There were times when I just wanted to let the weight sink me into the earth. But I was lucky, because there were people here at Cardinal Health who chose to be their authentic selves. I felt their vulnerability and strength. I saw the reactions of their peers and their leadership, and I saw how Cardinal Health supported them. I saw them succeed. Thanks to those earlier experiences, I can be my authentic self and be a support to others here Cardinal Health.

I can be me.

Being your authentic self is the bravest thing anyone can do; I’m grateful to all my colleagues for their openness and vulnerability in sharing what inclusivity means for them. And I am so proud that Cardinal Health continues to work tirelessly to create an environment where all employees can show up as their true selves and shine.

As SVP and general manager, Gallo leads Cardinal Health™ OptiFreight® Logistics, a team that acts as a strategic logistics extension of its healthcare customers’ supply chain leaders. Previously, Gallo led Cardinal Health’s executive customer engagement strategy and several medical product businesses, including operating room and personal protective equipment (PPE) portfolios. She is programming chair of Penn Leadership Q, an initiative focused on developing LGBTQ+ talent for leadership positions at the university, and is on the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women, an international network of alumnae who foster and promote the advancement of women and women’s issues at Penn. She is shown at the left in the top photograph with her family. 

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