A Conversation on Pride Month with Brandon Miller

A graduate of James Madison University, Brandon Miller is a member of our workplace services team. He works behind the scenes to ensure all aspects of the office run smoothly—from IT functions to workplace support. Brandon played an integral role for the firm through the pandemic, making things happen in the office so the engine could keep running as the firm worked from home.

1. As we celebrate Pride Month, can you tell us about a person or moment in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights that has impacted you?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said about the increase in acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community: “The remarkable thing is how attitudes in this country have changed on that issue. I attribute the change to gay people standing up and saying who they are. When they did that, people looked around, it was their next-door neighbor, of whom they were very fond, it was their child’s best friend, even their child.”

For me, this illustrates how we should approach conversations around LGBTQ+ issues as a “we” topic, not an “us vs. them” topic. I think we have more in common with each other than differences and that there is always kindness to go around.

 

2. What does Pride Month mean to you? How do you celebrate?

This is a time to spend with friends and family who you feel comfortable around, to express gratitude for the people who have made strides to get us to where we are today, and to shed light on the struggles of the LGBTQ+ community. While it’s important to acknowledge the work left to be done to achieve equality, we cannot forget to celebrate and be thankful for the progress made.

 

3. Are there any Pride Month celebrations you’ve been part of that are particularly meaningful to you?

A couple years back I was traveling in Singapore during Pride Month. While their celebrations were barred to noncitizens, I was able to watch from a distance. It was awesome to witness how other countries celebrate. There is no “right” way to celebrate: One country’s celebration does not have to look the same as another’s, just as one person’s way of celebrating does not have to look like another’s. That idea boils down to how many different types of people there are in the world—there are bubbly people and there are reserved people. Everyone should feel free to celebrate in a way that feels right to them.

 

4. Do you have any specific examples of acceptance that you have seen in the workplace?

Outside of formal efforts like of our firm’s DEI Advisory Group, one example that stands out happened when I first joined Harris Williams. I didn’t know everyone yet—and hadn’t quite gauged the firm’s level of tolerance—when I received a firmwide email announcing a colleague and her partner had welcomed a new child into their lives. I wondered whether it was a mistake that the email was sent so broadly, but then I was assured by a coworker: “That was supposed to happen. We’re so excited for them!”

This interaction made me feel that Harris Williams would be a truly accepting environment, one where employees feel comfortable to share this sort of thing.  

 

5. Could you tell us a bit about your role in the firm’s DEI efforts? What do those efforts mean to you? 

I play a role supporting and coordinating efforts among a few of our employee business resource groups (EBRGs), which is very fulfilling. We work to make the voices of underrepresented groups heard, and I believe it only makes our firm stronger to leverage different perspectives and experiences.

 

6. What suggestions do you have for folks who would like to demonstrate allyship with the LGBTQ+ community?

Just to practice kindness, give people space to be themselves, and be open to dialogue. There’s always room to learn and grow, so it’s important to be open to that growth.

 

7. What is your advice for members of the LGBTQ+ community who are early in their careers?

Be yourself and focus on your growth, both professionally and personally. A good workplace will value you for who you are and the talents you bring to the table.

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