Shannon Abela-Godfrey, DTE principal supervisor of Strategy and Defects, and Kim Abela-Godfrey, DTE Supplier Performance Management contract manager, are a compassionate married couple raising their daughter, Harmony, 3, and showing others what it means to be proud every day.
“We are bold because there are still people not open to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community,” said Shannon. “Earlier in my career I walked on eggshells – Kim, too. We were hesitant to be open. It felt like I wasn’t fully being honest or myself.”
They are now DTE’s Power of Pride (POP) employee resource group members. Annually in June, the community and its allies celebrate the spirit of being proud, accepted, and diverse. June was chosen for LGBTQ Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall riots of June 1969. Since then, pride events are held across the globe to recognize the impact that LGBTQ individuals, advocates and allies have on history.
Shannon said that she brings her best self to work every day because our company cares.
“They are very supportive and personable,” she said, adding that even in working from home, she has meetings with a lot of executives who ask after her family, especially when they hear Harmony in the background.
“They are very open to our family and makes me feel good,” she said.
Kim added that so many colleagues were on their adoption journey.
“We are both very fortunate with the people I’ve worked with,” said Kim. “I don’t feel like the token lesbian couple at work.”
However, Kim has faced some hardships, from not being fully accepted in Shannon’s family to being outed and having someone tell her that she’s “going to hell.” But every time, Kim educates others on how to properly relate to the LGBTQ+ community. She added that allies are extremely helpful in closing the gap, too.
“Regardless if you are gay, straight, bisexual, whatever, an ally is an ally and they will look of for your best interests,” Kim said. “I appreciate those upstander allies.”
Shannen Palmer, acting Tree Trim director and ally, said that being an ally means to learn and listen about the LGBTQ community’s challenges and struggles, and be a visible supporter at pride events whether virtually or in person.”
“Being a good ally is about being whatever type of ally they need,” said Shannen. “As a leader I create an environment safe for people to be their authentic self at work or outside of work.”
On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While this ruling is a step in the right direction for LGBTQ equality, it does not protect against discrimination in terms of housing, education, and other important facets of life.
In January, the Fair and Equal Michigan LGBTQ citizen’s initiative filed a ballot petition to expand the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections. The Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act was signed into law in 1977 to prohibit discrimination in Michigan on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status in employment, housing, education, and access to public accommodations. If the ballot initiative passes, it would re-define the word “sex” in the law to include sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Learn more about Pride Month and expand your knowledge about last week’s Supreme Court ruling and consider signing the ballot initiative to expand the Elliot-Larson Civil Rights Act in Michigan to include prohibiting employers from discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Want to learn more about how DTE is working to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace? Read more about our efforts here.