SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — It began with a letter sent to the company by a brave group of employees in 1991.
At the time, Chevron’s Brent Lok says, it was not a good career move at any company to make your sexual orientation known.
“I was one of the first generation of students who were very out at school and I came from school straight into Chevron,” he said. “At the time, it was pretty much common knowledge that you had to be going back into the closet to have an actual career with any company.”
Kathy Brennenman, the president of Chevron’s Pride Employee Network, said the atmosphere made it difficult to “be your true self.”
“It was unbearable,” she said. “It was living in the closet. You could not be your true self. You could not talk about your family. If you did, it was in general. It was pretty much the hardest part of my life.”
Then a group of employees got together and decided to make a difference.
“A number of us met and decided we wanted to form this employee club,” said Dawn Lemoine.
“Soon after we formed we agreed we should write a letter to the company,” Lok added.
The letter would demand that the company recognize a Chevron Gay and Lesbian Association.
“In that letter, we said we are the Chevron Gay and Lesbian Employee Association and we are going to be asking for some employee rights going forward,” Lempine said. “We finally said — ‘Okay, it’s time to sign the letter. Who is going to sign it? Five of us were brave enough or maybe foolish enough to say okay we’ll do it.”
By late 1993, the group’s impact had grown to a point where Chevron added sexual orientation to it’s Equal Employee Opportunity statement and the company has been devoted to diversity and inclusion ever since.