Drink, Dance, Donate: How Viacom Gave Back and Got Down for the 8th Year in a Row

“Everyone on the left side of the room say, ‘Give back,’” shouted Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish, addressing a constellation of nearly 200 Viacom employees and nonprofit partners, all gathered in the White Box at Viacom’s Times Square Headquarters one evening in early December.

Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish rallies the crowd at Give Back & Get Down VIII during his opening statements. Photo by Emil Cohen.

“Give back,” the crowd roared.

“Now everybody on the right side of the room say, “Get down!’”

“Get down!’”

After this rhapsodic rallying cry, Bakish began his opening remarks for our eighth annual gala of goodwill: Give Back & Get Down.

“Every year, Give Back and Get Down reminds us to celebrate the qualities that embody the Viacom spirit: empathy and engagement for the communities in which we serve,” said Bakish, applauding our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and Corporate Social Responsibility (Viacommunity) department for their concerted efforts in organizing such a festive and fruitful event.

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Logo’s Trailblazer Honorees “Stood On the Shoulders of Giants” to Become Pioneers of Change for This Generation

Throughout history, art has defended the human spirit. Especially in times of political crisis, art and activism become inextricably related.

This was clear after attending Logo’s Trailblazer Honors, which celebrates the work of honorees who have made indelible contributions to LGBT civil rights—through writing, dancing, singing and producing. This year’s honorees included Cyndi Lauper; activist and author Cleve Jones (his memoir, When We Rise, inspired ABC’s miniseries by the same name); the late Alvin Ailey, who is credited with making modern dance an inclusive space for LGBT African-Americans; and the creators of NBC’s Will and Grace, Max Mutchnick and David Kohan.

Logo taped the event on Thursday, June 22 at the historic Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and aired it the following night on VH1 and Logo.

 

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The Commerce of Inclusion: Take a Look at Logo’s List of 25 Trailblazing Companies for the LGBT Community

What do Target, Google, Nike, AT&T, and American Express have in common? They’re among the 25 most LGBT-friendly companies in the U.S., according to Logo, Viacom’s network inspired by the LGBT community.

Logo unveiled its second annual Trailblazing Companies list on the eve of Pride Month in June to compile the catalog of inclusive and supportive businesses.

So, how can Logo measure the economics of equality? With the help of Witeck Communications, a marketing firm focused on LGBT consumer habits, Logo scored companies based on seven criteria:

Courtesy of Logo/Witeck Communications.

Aside from promoting equality and inclusivity, why should companies care about promoting LGBT initiatives? Well, there’s this: the LGBT community has an estimated buying power of $971 billion, according to Witeck Communications President Bob Witeck.

“The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

Take a look at the top 25 companies:

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Love for All Fankind: How Viacom and the Rest of the World United for Pride

On June 28, 1970, thousands of LGBT New Yorkers marched from Greenwich Village to Central Park to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It was a gallant acknowledgment of the brutal treatment of LGBT citizens; an assertion of their human rights. The years of living a clandestine lifestyle were over—they were out, and they were proud.

Gay Rights March 1970'S. (Photo By Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

The original Pride Parade in 1970. Photo courtesy of Getty.

Since then, the LGBT community has rallied around its darkest times, including the assassination of Harvey Milk and the AIDS epidemic. Homophobic legislation, job discrimination, and repeated acts of violence have only served to fortify the movement.

Now in its 46th year, Pride marches on after the LGBT community experienced yet another devastating attack—the deadliest mass shooting in American history. On Sunday, June 26, throngs of supporters filled the streets of New York from Midtown to Greenwich Village with rainbow flags and glitter—ever the flamboyant festival, but with a somber undertone.

Photographs of the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting are laid out prior to the start of the 46th annual Gay Pride march June 26, 2016 in New York. New York kicked off June 26 what organizers hope will be the city's largest ever Gay Pride march, honoring the 49 people killed in the Orlando nightclub massacre and celebrate tolerance. / AFP / the 46th / Bryan R. Smith (Photo credit should read BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Photographs of the victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting are laid out prior to the start of the 46th annual Gay Pride march June 26, 2016 in New York. Photo courtesy of Getty.

“This year is going to be a lot more significant, a lot more important,” said New York Pride March Director Julian Sanjivan. “It’s painful, but at the same time, we want to show it’s all about love, it’s all about equality. We’re not going to cave to fear.”

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Logo Trailblazers Make Powerful Statement on LGBT Rights in the Aftermath of Orlando Nightclub Massacre

Every year, Logo celebrates the pioneers of the LGBT community with the Trailblazer Honors. This year’s ceremony aired on June 25, barely a week after It was a night of LGBT pride, comedic interludes, and speeches by legendary honorees—but the real honorees were the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting.

The event was held in Manhattan’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, where passionate, emphatic voices resonated against the high ceilings of the stately, gothic basilica. The speakers did not plea for equal rights, they demanded them, using the platform of the Trailblazer Honors to reinforce the urgent need for LGBT protections and respect.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars Alyssa Edwards, Alaska Thunderfvck, Ginger Minj, Tatiana and Phi Phi O'Hara perform at the 2016 Logo's Trailblazer Honors at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on June 23, 2016 in New York City. Trailblazer Honors airs Saturday night, June 25th on Logo and VH1. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Logo)

RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Alyssa Edwards, Alaska Thunderfvck, Ginger Minj, Tatiana and Phi Phi O’Hara perform at the 2016 Logo’s Trailblazer Honors at Cathedral of St. John the Divine on June 23, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images for Logo)

In addition to venerating trailblazers of the LGBT community, the Trailblazer Honors eclipsed standards in the world of broadcast communications by simulcasting with VH1—making it the largest televised LGBT Pride event in history. Thanks to this widespread coverage, Logo’s message of equality, love, and solidarity impacted a vast, worldwide audience. The Trailblazer Honors embraced the spirit of Pride with its inclusivity.

Below are some of the night’s most evocative moments.

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Viacom Brands Unite to Combat Hatred Around Orlando Tragedy

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

In defiance of the hatred and ignorance that fueled the Orlando terrorist attack that left 49 club-goers dead early Sunday morning, Viacom brands in every part of the world have turned their expansive social, digital and linear reach to pay homage to the victims and seek solutions to the plague of gun violence that is terrorizing American communities.

“We continue to use our public voice to loudly support and celebrate unity, acceptance, diversity, resilience, and change for good,” Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman and COO Tom Dooley wrote in a joint message to employees on Monday. “At Viacom, we will never stop speaking out against hate and gun violence and loudly advocating inclusiveness and sensible laws that protect us from violence.”

That the worst mass shooting in American history targeted a celebratory crowd of mostly LGBTQI individuals during what happened to be both Gun Violence Awareness Month and Pride month is a reminder of the importance of both to evolving our national conversation on many inter-related issues, and many Viacom networks spoke forcefully on these.

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Viacom Employees Unite in Global Show of Diversity and Inclusion

by Karla Melara, Viacom

When more than 60 Viacom employees from London, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville and New York convened for two days recently at the company’s global headquarters in Times Square, they had more than just their employer in common. In addition to their day jobs, they are all dedicated leaders in the company’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), which work through our Office of Global Inclusion (OGI), to continually build an environment of inclusiveness. They had assembled in Viacom’s cavernous White Box event space for OGI’s first-ever ERG Leadership Summit.

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EMERGE at Viacom Teams Up to Support Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Inclusive Blood Drive’

by Karla Melara, Viacom

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“Donate blood in honor of someone who can’t,” said Rich Meyers, of Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – Los Angeles, at a recent lunch on the Paramount lot with members of EMERGE, the company’s LGBT and straight ally employee resource group. Emerge invited HRC in an effort to highlight issues of importance to the LGBT community. Read More

SEE YA, DOMA! Reactions From Across Viacom

by Mark Jafar, Viacom

The Supreme Court’s decision today to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act was met with cheers and tears, hugs and high fives across Viacom.

When the ruling came down, several members of Emerge, Viacom’s LGBT employee affinity group, were in a breakfast meeting with Philippe Dauman, Viacom’s President and CEO.  Dauman regularly holds breakfast meetings with employee groups to discuss the company issues of the day, particularly in regards to diversity and inclusion.

We also caught up with several of those members of Emerge afterward for their reactions to today’s historic decision:

BrandonWhen we all heard the news this morning, the whole conference room cheered.  I know that we have a long way to go toward full marriage equality, but this was a very important milestone, and I am so proud of the community and those who have fought so hard.

– Brandon Grabowski, Senior Manager, Shopper Insights, Nickelodeon Research and co-chair of Emerge

 

 

michaelarmstrong

Today is a fantastic day for the LGBT community.  So very happy for all my friends whose marriages will now be recognized on the federal level. This is a huge step in the right direction. I am also very proud that I am able to share this moment at work and have the ability to be so open about it since Viacom is such an inclusive work environment. Amazing day. 

– Michael Armstrong, Associate Producer, Ad Sales Production, Viacom Music Group, and co-chair of Emerge, pictured at left with Edie Windsor, the plaintiff who challenged the federal law

 

 

 

 

SHANNON_TRAVISThis is a truly exciting time for the LGBT community because now our marriages will be recognized nationally pushing us closer to equal rights!

– Shannon Travis, Manager, Content Distribution and Marketing

 

 

 

 

RickandMattYesterday my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary.  On our first anniversary, the NY state legislature voted to pass marriage equality.  This year, although a day after our anniversary, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional.  I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this time in history, and the dates of these significant landmarks in gay history will always share a special meaning to me and my husband.

 

-Matthew Vidal, Senior Counsel, Business and Legal Affairs, Nickelodeon Digital Media, pictured above (left) with his husband Rick

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