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LGBTQ pride thrives at Wells Fargo

Tim Hanlon and other employees advocated for a more LGBTQ inclusive community at Wells Fargo in the 1990s.
A group of people carrying a Wells Fargo banner with stagecoach image while marching in a Pride parade. In the background is a large building and balloons.
Featured photo caption: Wells Fargo contingent at San Francisco Pride in 1993. After the first group of employees carried the Wells Fargo banner in 1992, it became an annual tradition. Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.

Every year, Wells Fargo employees join celebrations of LGBTQ Pride parades and events across the nation. This tradition began at Wells Fargo with a grassroots movement in 1991.

LGBTQ pride thrives at Wells Fargo

(Video begins on black and white image of smiling Wells Fargo employees wearing matching t-shirts that say, “Best in the West”, holding white balloons and a sign that says “Greetings from Wells Fargo bank” as they march in a parade in the 1993. Music begins.)

(Music continues. The parade image moves into the top right corner as the video transitions into introduction slide. On the left is the video title and a red, Wells Fargo box logo. On the right are three stacked images. From top to bottom they are: Same image of employees participating in parade, a headshot of Tim Hanlon-he has grey hair and is wearing a grey sweater with a white-collar shirt beneath, a black and white image of a large group gathered beneath a banner that reads: “Aids Walk-San Francisco.”)

Showing pride:

Wells Fargo Employee Resource Network leads to LGBTQ+Pride parade participation

(Yellow slide moves across the screen as video transitions into a white title slide. Music continues.)

In 1991, Tim Hanlon and Shannon Hickey organized a network of LGBTQ+ Wells Fargo employees and allies in San Francisco

(Music continues beneath voiceover. Video transitions into interview with Tim Hanlon. Title graphic appears that says: Tim Hanlon, Former Wells Fargo Executive, Served company from 1980-2015)

I talked a lot about being happy, being unhappy, being in, being out you know, who did we tell what to, and all those kinds of angst conversations that you have when you’re young.

We talked a lot about that.

(Video transitions to a black and white image of a large group gathered beneath a banner that reads: “Aids Walk-San Francisco.” Music continues.)

So at an AIDS walk in probably June of ’91, we thought, well, there are going to be a lot of gay and lesbian people there so let’s see if they want to talk to each other,

(Video transitions back to Tim Hanlon interview. Music continues beneath voiceover.)

let’s see if there is a network we could build, and we passed out flyers to anybody we could find wearing a Wells Fargo volunteer t-shirt.

We passed out the flyers and said let Tim or Shannon know if you want to be part of a network that we’ll develop.  We don’t even know what it means but we’ll try to figure that out.  Quickly we built an email distribution list that was 200 or 300 people and the very first thing we did together as a group was organize a picnic on August 18th, 1991, in Golden Gate Park.

And, you know, it was a bring-your-own-whatever-you-wanted-to-eat thing.  We barbecued and just had conversations.  What was remarkable to me were people walking around the group and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I heard “You’re here, I see you in the hallway all the time, I didn’t know.”  And it broke down so many personal barriers that it was just amazing what grew out of just let’s go on a picnic.

That was a turning point and I was really proud that Shannon and I together were able to do that and then, you know, things grew out of that.

(Video transition to white title slide. Music continues)

In 1992, Tim and others brought Wells Fargo to San Francisco’s Pride Parade for the first time.

(Video transitions back to Tim Hanlon interview. Music continues beneath voiceover.)

I think it was the next year in San Francisco, we had our first contingent

(Video transitions back to opening parade image. Yellow title graphic appears labeling image as; San Francisco, 1993. Music continues beneath voiceover.) marching in a pride parade.

So from that, from passing around flyers at an AIDS walk, to lunch in Golden Gate Park, to marching in the parade.

Most corporations were not in the parade at that point.  We were one of the first and people were, spectators were really shocked, really shocked.

(Video transitions back to Tim Hanlon interview. Music continues beneath voice over.)

We walked behind a banner.  Shannon, myself, and I don’t know who else held the banner and walked up Market Street and people applauded, people screamed, you heard lots of “That’s my bank” kind of things, and that was kind of a public coming out for Wells Fargo.

(Interview ends. Video transitions into white screen with moving red, Wells Fargo box logo. Music switches from voice under track to Wells Fargo sonic logo.)

It all started when two employees met for lunch in the summer of 1991, a week after San Francisco’s annual pride parade — at the time called the International Lesbian & Gay Freedom Day Parade. Tim Hanlon and Shannon Hickey shared their desire to see a Wells Fargo group walk in the parade the following year. Just four years prior, Wells Fargo had added sexual orientation to nondiscrimination employment policies and Hanlon and Hickey hoped this meant that LGBTQ employees would feel comfortable and safe expressing themselves, advocating openly in the workplace, and joining a company team at the parade.

They decided that the first step in preparing for the next parade was to find interested people to join them. The Wells Fargo Foundation already donated to AIDS and HIV support groups that served LGBTQ communities, which were disproportionally affected by the epidemic. Hanlon and Hickey learned that 300 members of the company’s volunteer network were participating in an upcoming AIDS walk, so they made plans to recruit at the event.

As Wells Fargo employees gathered after the AIDS walk for a group picture, Hanlon and Hickey handed out flyers encouraging people to contact them if they were interested in getting to know fellow LGBTQ employees. The next day, they were inundated with emails. An informal picnic was arranged, and on August 18, 1991, Wells Fargo’s first LGBTQ team member group held their inaugural meeting in Golden Gate Park. From that day forward, an informal group was established to share information, communicate, and leverage a unified voice to advocate for change.

A 1991 photo of a large crowd of people gathered outside under a banner that reads AIDS Walk San Francisco.
Tim Hanlon handed out flyers to employees as this picture was taken after an AIDs walk in San Francisco in 1991. Photo Credit: Wells Fargo Corporate Archives.

A yearlong goal attained

Intent on fulfilling their vision from the previous summer, Hanlon, Hickey, and the rest of the LGBTQ team member group mobilized to form a team for the 1992 San Francisco Pride parade. More than 100 employees stepped forward to walk with Wells Fargo’s group that year.

Wells Fargo employees have been marching with pride ever since. The informal group that first met in Golden Gate Park became the local chapter of the Wells Fargo Pride Connection Employee Resource Network. Every June, thousands of employees connected through the network walk with their local LGBTQ communities to show their pride and support.

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