Celebrating Pride Month with Cardinal Connects – Spectrum:
Chair of Spectrum, Khalil Hall
“Pride” – a seemingly simple word, yet to so many it can mean so much.
Every June, cities around the world celebrate Pride Month in tribute to the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. Pride Month attracts millions of participants around the world through a variety of events like parades, workshops, and concerts. Many of these events are part political activism, striving to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for people in the LGBTQ+ community, while also celebrating all the achievements the community has accomplished over the years.
In honor of Pride Month, we spoke with Cardinal team member Khalil Hall, Business Development Manager and Chair of the Business Resource Group (BRG), Spectrum, to learn more about his story and how his co-chairs are helping the Cardinal team celebrate Pride. Khalil shares strong similarities with team members across the nation growing up as a black and gay young man, facing many hurdles such as bullying and scrutinization for his sexuality and skin color among others. As Chair of Spectrum, Khalil and his co-chairs have established a safe-zone environment for our LGBTQ+ team members and allies to discuss social issues, encourage professional development, and build connections with each other. Here is what Khalil had to share about Spectrum, Pride Month, and being a member of the LGBTQ+ community:
Can you tell us a bit about what Spectrum is?
In 2020, Cardinal set the goal of launching two Business Resource Groups (“BRG’s”) for our team members with support from the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DE&I”) council. The first two BRGs to be launched were for LGBTQ+ and black team members. Upon launching the LGBTQ+ BRG, I was selected as Chair, and wanted to have a name that was inclusive for everyone. I sometimes think we forget how important that “+” is, and how many of our friends, family, co-workers, etc. identify as something other than gay, lesbian, male, or female.
The spectrum model more accurately represents the ways in which an individual’s sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual/romantic orientations do not always exist as opposite end points. Meaning, sexuality and gender, among others, are not black and white. In fact, it’s black, white, yellow, blue, and more… For many, identifying as someone who specifically likes men OR women, or as someone who is male OR female, can be quite challenging. This is why we chose the name, Spectrum.
As individuals, we are all so unique, and have the basic human right to identify however we choose to. Spectrum is meant to include everyone, no matter where they fall on the spectrum, whether it be gay, straight, transgender, male, female, or non-binary. Your identity is your choice.
How did you become involved in the Spectrum Council?
In November 2020, I saw an email come through inviting team members to apply to be chair or co-chair of the two BRG’s for Black or LGBTQ+ team members. The decision was pretty tough when deciding which to apply to because I identify as a gay male, but I am also black. Growing up, I faced challenges for both, even as an adult in the workforce I’ve had my fair share of racial and gay slurs. I chose to apply for Chair of Spectrum because I felt my impact as a black individual identifying as a gay male could be very impactful for both BRG’s. “Coming out” is never easy, and certainly changes lives in several good and bad ways, and being able to have a relatable voice as someone who had a very tough time coming out has proven to be impactful with our members of Spectrum.
What is your favorite part of serving on this council?
It’s the team for me. We recently held our first “Spectrum Hangout,” and had an open forum to discuss things we can do as a company and as team members to promote DE&I. The feedback, ideas, and collaboration was outstanding. Not to mention, we had a speaker, Felix, join us in March who told his story about transitioning, and that was one of the greatest days in my career.
I still remember being 19, struggling with coming out, being onsite, and hearing gay/racial slurs every once in a while in a “professional’ setting”. The sad part is back then we didn’t have a BRG for this, and there really didn’t seem like there was anything we could do about it. Today, It’s heart-warming to see and be a part of this progress, and to work for an organization that really strives to be the best place to work for anyone and everyone despite their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, race, etc.
How has working for a company who focuses on creating resources around DE+I benefited you as an employee?
Cardinal is unique in the sense that we really do put our team members first, and value them unconditionally, and even at this moment that company culture is somewhat difficult to find. From my perspective, this has helped me in several ways. First, I’d say I have built incredible relationships with team members throughout Cardinal Group Companies. Additionally, I love that I am able to help our team members with whatever challenges they are facing and as someone who wanted to be a doctor once upon a time (did anyone mention property management traps you? Haha), being able to touch so many lives with a positive impact is incredibly rewarding. Lastly, I’ve found a company that I love working with because we dedicate resources to ensure our team members work in a safe and accepting environment.
Why is it important, to you, to celebrate Pride Month?
Pride Month for me is a time for us to celebrate all the individuals on this planet that identify somewhere on the Spectrum. It is also a time for us to reflect on the challenges and hurdles the LGBTQ+ community has had to overcome throughout the years. It’s a time for us to encourage those people who are struggling with identifying themselves or those who are struggling to accept the idea of being anything besides “straight” or a cis-gender male or female, to change that mindset. Billions of people are on this planet with different skin colors, body types, hair types, etc… of course there are several genders and sexualities too! We need to learn to love each other unconditionally, and I think that is an incredibly valuable part of the Pride message.
Going into Pride Month, I encourage you and everyone around us to make the decision to spread love this month and every month going forward. There are people around the world being hurt, taken from their families, and sometimes worse because of their sexuality and gender. While some of us are lucky enough to still hold on to and love the ones we have – don’t miss that opportunity. Who we identify as and who we love does not change the good in our hearts.
Happy Pride Month y’all!