Living Your Allyship in Florida, USA: An interview with Adam Kelman
Adam Kelman is determined to educate people and change perceptions to build an inclusive society. He’s the Omnichannel Activation Manager in our US team and the Co-Lead of our PrideConnect Employee Resource Group for North America. And in June 2023, he was one of over 200 Sanofians who dedicated a day to giving out hygiene kits to support the LGBTQ+ community in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
We sat down with Adam to find out what being an ally means to him as a gay man, both in and beyond the workplace. We got to know a fun down-to-earth person who uplifts his colleagues, inspiring them to build a workplace that celebrates and values what makes each of us unique.
What would you like allies to know about the LGBTQ+ community?
We're first and foremost people. And we’re part of a very diverse community to which we are all contributing positively. Unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ community is often vilified.
When I was growing up in the US, I could see and feel this discrimination. Living in a smaller town, the few openly gay guys had to not only withstand constant ridicule, but also bear the burden of being the ambassadors to the entire LGBTQ+ community. The one lesbian I knew was my great aunt, who was more tolerated than embraced and accepted.
In retrospect, I wish I had been more confident in myself at the time to make better friends with these people and live out loud with them.
Today, I know that there are a lot of employees who feel very isolated and alone, having the impression that they’re the “only” LGBTQ+ person at work or where they live. We all need to feel part of a community where you can bring our true selves. That’s just being human.
Because I wanted to play my part, I joined the PrideConnect group to start building that community here in Chattanooga in 2020, which eventually led to me co-leading the entire North America chapter in 2022.
Since then, I’ve been determined to educate people and change perceptions. I know that I have an important part to play in building an inclusive society that makes the most of our differences.
Sanofi has this volunteering company-wide program called We Volunteer, and it helps people get organized to support their communities in whatever way is needed. I feel that no matter where we are in the world, we can all do more to support LGBTQ+ people. It’s an important way to make our communities stronger.
You recently joined hundreds of colleagues volunteering in Florida. Can you tell us about the experience?
It was amazing. On June 6th, 2023, I joined more than 200 of my colleagues to volunteer for a day to support the LGBTQ+ community in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the US.
After sharing my perspective as a gay man alongside Chris Osner-Hackett and Martin Donais, we spent the time packing up some hygiene packs to support the LGBTQ+ community of The Pride Center at Equality Park. In addition to the kits we prepared, we added a personal message to make sure the people receiving them felt the love. A good way for us to remind everyone they’re not alone; they have the support of a swath of people, and the LGBTQ+ community is accepted and supported.
What are you most proud of?
Knowing that I can affect people's lives in such a positive and different way is very rewarding.
What also strikes me is that people really want to be good allies, but they’re often afraid of offending others. We all know someone who has come out and we often do not know how to act and what to say. That’s why I decided to offer my colleagues webinars to provide some insights, answer their questions and unknowns, and equip them with advice to better navigate those situations.
Reactions were so positive and amazing. Parents, friends, and colleagues came back to me being so relieved to have this open discussion and ready to support their loved ones. Helping people learn how to be more inclusive to different communities and become an ally has been really rewarding.
Any advice for others who want to play their part?
If one person's life is changed from your actions, it really matters. Your involvement means more than what you may think. Whatever time you’re able to give has an outsized impact on those that need that help. It always starts with a single day and a few hours, and it means a lot for people. At the end of the day, it comes to being human and doing what's right, and making everybody’s short time on this earth worthwhile.
It’s all about health and dignity. I’m proud of all the Sanofians who are helping build the brightest, most inclusive future for all.
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