Brown-Forman hosts first ever gay pride festival


by Michelle Arnold

Posted on June 14, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 14 at 7:31 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- (WHAS11) -- When Fabricia Mounce started at Brown-Forman four and a half years ago, she didn't know what to expect.

“I was afraid of coming out when I first started because I didn’t know if people would accept me. I was afraid to be judged because of the discrimination we face in the community, so you can't help but think that everyone feels the same way,” said Mounce.

Just a short time later, Brown-Forman developed seven employee resource groups to accommodate different cultures and lifestyles throughout the company. Thursday was the first ever pride fair at Brown-Forman, backed by the LGBT group cleverly titled BYOD, Bring Your Own Diversity.

“You often go to a party; it’s bring your own alcohol or bring your own beverage. We thought why not bring your own diversity to work every day and that's why we came up with BYOD,” said employee Tim Holz.

For Mounce it's a chance to have fun, but more importantly, it's a reminder of the acceptance she feels at her workplace.

“It's really nice to see all of the employees getting together to celebrate pride celebrate equality,” said Mounce.

It's the LGBT employee benefits, the anti-discriminatory policies and the sense of community that Tim Holz says gives them the HRC designation "Best Place to Work" along with 190 other U.S. companies. It also increases their consumer awareness.

“We are getting much more creative and much more savvy in the way we are marketing to those different demographics,” said Holz.

The fair featured community organizations, art booths, product samplings and a cookout lunch for all employees.

“This is the first time ever we've had a pride flag on the gate of Brown-Forman and we're hoping as people drive up and down Dixie Highway people see that and will know that Brown-Forman is a place where LGBT people are valued,” said Holz.

This unique event was designed to promote diversity, but among the differences emerged a common theme.

“Our motto is bring your whole self to work. Who you are, is who we want you to be,” said employee Raylene Pollio.

Brown-Forman is the only company in Kentucky to receive a 100 percent score on the Human Rights Campaign 2012 Corporate Equality Index.