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Employees at Goodwill of Orange County design buttons to show their pride

A man looks over Goodwill of Orange County's Pride & Ally button art submissions.
(Courtesy of Goodwill of Orange County)

During Pride month in June, Goodwill of Orange County hosted its first Pride & Ally button art contest for its employees.

“The whole contest was really part of our commitment to our workforce to celebrate diversity within Goodwill of Orange County,” said Nicole Suydam, president and chief executive of Goodwill of O.C.

Goodwill of O.C. employs more than 1,200 individuals in its retail operation and workforce development mission services. According to Suydam, that employee population is very diverse.

“About 37% of our workforce, and this is as of a survey that we did last year, identifies as other than heterosexual,” said Suydam. “It is really important to us, especially when we learned that statistic, to create a work place where everyone from the LGBTQ+ community feels valued, respected and included.”

The Pride & Ally button art contest encouraged employees to dream up a button that illustrates what pride and allyship for the LGBTQ community means to them.

“It gave people an opportunity to express their support and express their creativity,” Suydam said. “We had 180 designs submitted, which was incredible engagement.”

Some of Goodwill of Orange County's Pride & Ally button art submissions.
(Courtesy of Goodwill of Orange County)

Designs with rainbow colors, equal signs and even the Goodwill logo were submitted.

Of the submissions, 11 designs were chosen to be made into round pin-on buttons and distributed to the entire workforce to wear on their Goodwill badge lanyards.

“We will make 100 buttons per design and distribute them throughout the organization,” Suydam said.

Goodwill of O.C. is headquartered in Santa Ana on Fairview Street where its compound includes a donation center, store and corporate offices. According to Goodwill’s site, 238,118 local adults and children are served by the organization’s programs and services.

Goodwill has invested in its culture and connection within the organization through its Employee Engagement and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access programs.

“We actually have a committee of people that we call our IDEA task force,” Suydam said.

IDEA stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.

“Part of their work is to come up with ways to advocate and educate and engage with team members within our workforce,” said Suydam.

Employee engagement programs that promote inclusion are becoming more popular, and Suydam said that as an organization with a mission to help all people, it’s important that inclusivity and acceptance be a true part of the company’s culture.

“We are a mission-driven organization and our mission is about serving all people in Orange County,” said Suydam. “That is in our workplace and people that we serve, anybody regardless of gender, race, age, education, disability, religion and sexual orientation, any kind of background. We want everyone to feel valued and respected and like they have the opportunity to succeed here.”

Suydam also said it is important that the service provider’s actions reflect its mission.

“It is really important that we celebrate the diversity of our workplace, not just in words but in actions show that we are an inclusive workplace.”

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