Equality Florida will honor the City of Tampa with the Voice for Equality Award and will present the Equality Means Business Award to PNC Bank at the Equality Florida 8th Annual Tampa Gala on Saturday, February 22. The Gala takes place from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the historic Exchange National Bank building, known as The Vault (611 N. Franklin St.).
At a time in history that has seen many landmark milestones and victories, the Gala will provide the LGBT community and their allies a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the momentum that is building throughout the state and throughout the nation. More than 400 community, business and political leaders will celebrate these accomplishments at the Annual Gala, along with honoring a city that has a longstanding tradition of inclusiveness.
According to the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index, Tampa ranks as the most pro-equality large city in the state of Florida, fulfilling a pledge made by Tampa’s Mayor Bob Buckhorn early in 2013. In one year, Tampa’s score increased 35%, from 66 points to 89 points out of a possible 100.
The study evaluated 291 cities nationwide, including 15 large cities in Florida, with rankings based on non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, the municipality’s employment and contracting policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership on matters of equality.
“Our progress on equality issues is not just symbolic – it is tangible, particularly for 500+ couples who have already signed up for the Domestic Partnership Registry,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s not only important that we’re a diverse community, but that we also celebrate the intrinsic value of everyone regardless of the God they worship or who they love,” said Buckhorn.
With a Corporate Equality Index score of 100, PNC sets the standard for corporate responsibility when it comes to treating LGBT employees with dignity and respect. PNC’s internal policies, as well as their civic involvement, celebrate diversity in every aspect of the company.
“Florida is diverse, and PNC can make the best decisions through varied thinking when it comes to identifying and developing business opportunities and supporting our communities,” said Joseph Meterchick, PNC Bank’s regional president for Florida West. “By fostering inclusion, we can better meet the needs of our clients in our increasingly diverse marketplace. It’s why we’re committed to our LGBT employees, communities and customers throughout the state and throughout PNC’s footprint.”
With more than 200 branches throughout Florida, PNC incorporates the celebration of LGBT Pride month into customer, community and workforce initiatives. In addition to offering domestic partner benefits since 2003, PNC has an LGBT Employee Business Resource Group, providing a forum for discussion and professional development among employees.
“We are committed to building and maintaining an inclusive workplace that supports LGBT employees across our organization,” added Meterchick. “As part of our commitment, PNC observes seven history and heritage months designated by the U.S. Congress as national celebrations, including PRIDE month.”
“In the fight for LGBT equality, Florida is the front line of Southern states, and we are proud to recognize the City of Tampa and PNC for setting an example for others throughout the state and the nation,” says Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “That commitment to stronger protections comes out of a sense of doing what is right and understanding that economic growth is tied to diversity and inclusion.”
With more than 100 sponsors already supporting the Gala, guests will enjoy an open bar and delicious hors d’oeuvres. Nadine Smith will present a State of the State Address, recognizing milestones already achieved in Florida and outlining the work that is yet to be done throughout the state.
Equality Florida Institute is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. www.eqfl.org