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Celebrating a culture of belonging

By Pete Bennett, senior vice president of Global Logistics

June is Pride Month, a time for members of the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to reflect on our history as well as current social and political challenges. As co-chair of our PROUD employee resource group (ERG), it’s an especially meaningful time for me.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of participating in the Progress Pride flag-raising outside our headquarters in Dublin, Ohio. Our CEO Jason Hollar, CHRO Ola Snow, CFO Aaron Alt, Debbie Weitzman, CEO of our Pharmacy Segment, and Devray Kirkland, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) officer, participated in the ceremony in front of a large group of Dublin employees and a much larger audience of virtual attendees.

This is the second year we’ve flown the Progress Pride flag – a redesign of the 1978 rainbow flag – that honors the diversity and intersectionality of the LGBTQ+ community. It includes black and brown stripes to portray marginalized LGBTQ+ communities of color, and incorporates blue, pink and white from the transgender flag. (These additional stripes form an arrow shape, pointing to the right to suggest forward movement and aligned with the left edge of the flag to indicate the progress still to be made.) More than 65 Cardinal Health sites in the U.S., including facilities in Georgia, Florida, Missouri, Arizona and Texas, as well as our Dublin, Ireland, facility, are flying this flag throughout the month of June.

At Cardinal Health, we are committed to fostering a culture built upon understanding, compassion, and authenticity. I’m proud to be a leader in an organization that supports all employees, and encourages every one of us to be who we truly are, and to bring our authentic selves to work every day.

For 15 years in a row, we have earned a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, the country’s foremost benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to LGBTQ+ employees.

We actively advocate for the Equality Act, which includes “sexual orientation and gender identity” to ensure nondiscrimination protections, clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1994 does not allow for anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, and limits the ability of future administrations to threaten or reverse anti-discrimination policies. 

More than 6,000 Cardinal Health employees have signed our PROUD ERG Ally Pledge, committing to support the LGBTQ+ community publicly and privately.

I wanted to hear directly how all of this impacts my LGBTQ+ colleagues, so I asked them to share their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say about Cardinal Health’s inclusive culture.

  • “Being visible and living proudly is not always easy when you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Ty Simonton, a U.S. Medical Products and Distribution marketing manager in Dublin, Ohio. “But at Cardinal Health, I am really proud to be who I am every day of the year. As a company, we have taken so many steps forward – flying the Progress Pride flag, broadening discussions about what it means to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and shining a light on intersectionalities. Many of us are openly talking – and encouraging others to engage with us – about what it means to be part of marginalized LGBTQ+ communities. Every employee is invited and encouraged to be who they truly are, and to be proud of how they choose to identify.”  
  • “Cardinal Health and its leadership are open to embracing all people,” said Miguel Marti, a medical products sales manager in Mexico. “I’m proud to work here, and share with others not only what we do for customers and patients, but also what we do for our own people. I am an active member of our PROUD ERG; our leadership in Mexico does a great job encouraging employees to get involved in our activities and promoting an equitable, inclusive culture. That to me, is the definition of progress, because it creates a space where people are constantly evolving and growing.”
  • Becca Frye, director of customer engagement in Louisville, Kentucky (and my PROUD ERG co-chair), said, “Employees at all levels lean in to understand the importance of self-identification and pronouns. The company sends a strong message that ALL employees can bring their authentic selves to work every day, which creates a space for progress. As we learn from one another, we enhance one another’s lives, at work and in our communities. Together, we create an environment where we’re always trying to do better.”
  • Dewayne Allen, a pricing research supervisor in Arkansas, said, “I joined this company as a very young black, shy, gay man living in the South. Thanks to Cardinal Health’s culture and amazing leaders and mentors, I have been provided with great opportunities and have continued to grow personally over the past 10 years. Being who I am today as a leader – more outspoken, encouraging and knowledgeable – is directly attributable to the work all of us do to support, uplift and develop one another and foster an environment where it does not matter how old you are, what your race is or where you are from. We are all given opportunities to grow and succeed. This drives and motivates me every day.”
  • Here, we celebrate our differences, and value one another’s lived experiences,” said Brandon Mash, a marketing management consultant in Dublin, Ohio. “Being part of last year’s Pride Parade in Columbus, and seeing so many people from Cardinal Health participating in the parade as allies or as open members of the community, made me feel at home here in a way that I’ve never felt anywhere else. Because I can bring my full and authentic self to work every day, I can focus on doing the best work I can. Even when we experience stumbles, or feel the biases of other people, we keep moving forward. Working to change the hearts and minds of those around us is important, and it is progress.”
  • Stacey Black, a senior talent acquisition specialist in the Philippines, said, “Leaders and management openly express support for LGBTQ+ employees and actively advocate for our rights and well-being. I have equitable opportunities for professional growth and development here, and that contributes to my overall well-being, which in turn increases my motivation and engagement. Together, we’re working to advance equality, social acceptance, and legal rights and protections, creating a world where LGBTQ+ individuals can live their lives authentically.”

I’m grateful to all of my colleagues who shared their reflections. Even more, I’m grateful that our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion really has an impact. I believe that the hardest and bravest thing anyone can do is to be their authentic self. And at Cardinal Health, we work to create a space where that is possible for everyone. All of us have the power to learn from one another, to lean in, and to stand up for others. When we understand that we all belong, that there is strength in our differences, we can change the world.

As Senior Vice President of Global Logistics, Pete Bennett is accountable for international logistics, global trade, global replenishment center operations, global demand planning, supply planning, field inventory management/deployment, and key customer collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment teams. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a master of science from Central Michigan University. He serves as a lieutenant colonel, J4 Logistics Officer, in the U.S. Army Reserve in support of the European Command’s J4 Logistics Section. He is a member of APICS, serves as co-chair of Healthcare Industry Distributor Association supply chain visibility council, and is on the board of the Healthcare Industry Resilience Collaborative.

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Cardinal Health is a distributor of pharmaceuticals, a global manufacturer and distributor of medical and laboratory products, and a provider of performance and data solutions for healthcare facilities. Subscribe to our News Alerts to get all of our latest news.