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Beyond Pride: Recognizing and Rewarding Leadership While Honoring Trailblazers

Leadership can come in many forms – sometimes loud and proud and sometimes quietly behind the scenes.

DEI leadership
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Let’s continue one of the conversations we started during Pride Month. At my company, Granite Telecommunications, one of the recurring discussions in June was about the ongoing need for leadership to champion the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and asexual (LGBTQA+) community in the workplace.

Defining Leadership

The problem with leadership is that it can be defined in many ways. When we view leadership as someone with power or influence, we may believe it’s not our role or responsibility. So, we follow, do nothing, or even complain about what is or isn’t being done.

When we view leadership as bringing people together to accomplish a task or objective, then leading is clearly within our reach, no matter our job title. This is not to say that we don’t want leadership and support from those with power and influence; rather, it’s that we don’t need to wait for them to take the lead.

At Granite, for example, our teammates got together to form Granite RockOUT, an employee resource group for diversity and inclusion. Make no mistake — RockOUT is supported by Granite CEO Rob Hale, who was recently named to the 2022 Channel Future DEI 101 list. However, Granite teammates decide what programs and initiatives the ERG takes on to support our internal and external LGBTQA+ communities and allies. At Granite, our leadership is done by example, and it starts at the top.

Recognizing and Honoring the Leadership of Those Before Us

Leadership can come in many forms – sometimes loud and proud and sometimes quietly behind the scenes (or, what I hear lately called “servant leadership”). All types of leadership are needed to advance our mission to create a culture of positivity and inclusion.

To recognize these unsung heroes, Granite RockOUT launched the Allison Ordway Pride Leadership Award, which is given monthly to a Granite team member who is nominated by company operations and sales leaders for their:

  • Ability to lead and bring a team together

  • Passion for Granite

  • Open communication

  • Pride

  • Positive attitude

  • Contagious energy


Allison Ordway

The award is given in memory of Allison Ordway, a talented salesperson and longtime member of Granite’s Relationship Development team, who passed in 2021 after a long battle with cancer. Allison, a proud member of the LGBTQA+ community, was energetic, talented, and generous with her time in supporting causes and Granite teammates. On a personal note, Allison was my first mentor at Granite, and, when she took me under her wing, she did it without me asking. Most importantly, I was not her only mentee; many other Granite reps and account managers were mentored by her during her tenure with Granite.


Granite’s Carlos Suarez

Back in June, during Pride month, we announced the Allison Ordway Leadership Award’s first honoree: one of Allison’s teammates, Carlos Suarez, a Granite solution engineer. He was nominated by Kelsey Stoker, vice president of relationship development, a Granite RockOUT member and a proud ally and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Kelsey wrote in her nomination:

Carlos Suarez is the ultimate teammate and leader. When Allison was many times too sick to travel or too sick to take customer calls, Carlos would step in and treat the customers like gold. He would get on a plane and visit them, solution with them and make them feel 100% supported. After calls where Allie may not have been at her best, he would call me proactively, and we would work together to support the client seamlessly during the difficult times. Carlos was never told to do this; he just did it for the benefit of the team, the customer and for Granite. … No one is more deserving of the first Allison Ordway [Pride] Leadership Award than her close friend, colleague and supporter, Carlos Suarez.”

Leading by Example

Carlos may have stepped in to help his teammate in her time of need, but, in so doing, he helped Granite and his teammates continue to deliver service levels that Allison had set with her clients. Most importantly, he did so without being asked. That’s what a leader does: He/she/they own it — whatever it is.

For LGBTQA+ individuals, one way to lead is by owning their sexuality or gender by coming out and making it easier for others to follow.

Another is to show that we’re more than just a label — LGBTQA+ — by giving time, attention, direction, support and value to our companies and communities. When we’re seen more for our contributions than our “differences,” we’re leading the positive change we’d like to see in our world.

For our allies, leading may be standing up to the status quo or simply being by our side, lending us strength and courage in the knowledge that we’re not alone.

About the Author

Medina-Raul_Granite-150x150.jpgRaul Medina is national relationship development manager at Granite Telecommunications and chair of the Granite RockOUT employee resource group for diversity and inclusion. Granite RockOUT was formed in 2019 to support Granite’s LGBTQA+ community and their allies. Its mission is to create a culture of positivity and acceptance within the Granite workplace so that all teammates feel welcome and enjoy their work environment. For more information, visit Granite at www.granitenet.com.


This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.

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