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Sherwin-Williams PrideWorks Parent Panel Promotes Allyship

The Sherwin-Williams PrideWorks Employee Resource Group (ERG) provides an environment that is specific to seeing, celebrating and advancing LGBTQ+ professional and personal growth. In 2021, Sherwin-Williams PrideWorks hosted a virtual session featuring three parents and their stories of how they support their LGBTQ+ children and their coming-out journeys. The candid conversation reinforced the importance of allyship and included resources related to understanding pronouns and guidance on how to use them to promote inclusivity.


“We hosted this panel to commemorate Transgender Awareness Week and Anti-Bullying Week,” said Chris Horlacher, Sherwin-Williams Creative Director, Consumer Brands Group and President of Sherwin-Williams PrideWorks. The rising statistics for LGBTQ+ hate crimes and teen suicides drove the ERG officers to discuss how they could create an open dialogue of support within the Company.


“We asked ourselves what a good way would be to communicate the importance of empathy and acceptance in the hopes of educating people,” Horlacher explained. “We wanted to try something a little different. Our parents are our strongest advocates and biggest allies – giving parents a platform to discuss and share their personal success stories in a comfortable space was the perfect teaching opportunity.”


Panelists weighed in on what it meant to participate in the virtual event. “It was amazing to hear the parents’ heartfelt stories – and share our own – with such an engaged audience,” said John Gravante, Sherwin-Williams Vice President of Operations –Powder, Global Supply Chain.


Similar sentiments came from Bonnie Heinsohn, Sherwin-Williams Senior Director of Marketing Communications, Consumer Brands Group. “Hearing others’ journeys gave me a bigger, better understanding of what others are going through – and that in turn makes me a better ally, a better advocate,” she said. 


More than 100 people attended the event, and the panelists answered questions about a variety of topics including obstacles, triumphs and the important role parents and family play in the lives of the LGBTQ+ community. “It was an uplifting and educational presentation, with truly commendable parents who shared honest and endearing perspectives,” Horlacher concluded. “This platform helped teach the importance of empathy, compassion and inclusion through the familiar eyes of mom and dad.”




This story is featured in the Sherwin-Williams 2021 Sustainability Report.