Anchorage man wins OfficeMax Diversity Award

The second post for Ally Week 2009 highlights business ally OfficeMax and local employee Christopher Oeser, who won a company-wide Diversity Award for marching in the Anchorage Pride Parade with the OfficeMax banner.

Gays and lesbians in Anchorage have many workplace allies, from corporations with LGBT-inclusive diversity policies to small business owners who supported our efforts for a non-discrimination ordinance. One business ally is OfficeMax, a multinational office supply company with stores in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

"I just found out that my work made me the 2009 diversity champion," enthused Chris Oser on August 8, three days before the Assembly passed the ordinance and nine days before the mayor vetoed it.

"There are only 3 diversity champions in the whole company... I am having dinner with the CEO in September and I get a trophy. I am way excited and wanted everyone to know. Officemax is an awesome place to shop and work for the LGBT community!"

What did Chris do to win a company-wide diversity award? And what did OfficeMax do to get such a loyal employee?

In May, Chris called the corporate office and suggested that OfficeMax support LGBT diversity for the month of June. "Our work is all about cultural diversity and working inclusively with each other, and they pride themselves on doing that," he wrote.

And they did, as Bent reported on June 4. When Chris returned to work at the OfficeMax store in the Northway Mall, he saw a rainbow poster in the break room that read, "OfficeMax Celebrates Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Pride Month: Embracing Inclusion."

"My company OfficeMax made this June LGBT Pride Month," wrote Chris on the PrideFest wall. "I am so proud to work there!"

So he asked if he could march in the local pride parade with the company's diversity banner. And they said yes. Chris and a few others marched in Anchorage PrideFest holding a colorful banner with the message "OfficeMax: Celebrating Diversity Through Inclusion."

OfficeMax displayed their Pride Month posters in many stores and their LGBT employees marched in other pride parades. They even had a float in Chicago Pride. But they had never been represented in Anchorage PrideFest until Chris came along.

So they honored their proud employee with a company award. Just three days before the Mayor's no-diversity-allowed Unity Dinner, the CEO of OfficeMax flew to Anchorage to present a Diversity Award to Chris.

CEO Sam Duncan, Diversity officer Caroline Brooks, the head of Retail and head of Human Resources all attended the special Diversity Lunch on September 22 at the Northway Mall OfficeMax store. Leaders of the Anchorage LGBT community came to share the moment with Chris, including Phyllis Rhodes of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center, and Kevin Holtz & Miss MeMe of the Imperial Court of All Alaska.

"We had seafood dishes, King crab legs, and really good desert," wrote Chris. "I played piano for everyone. Most people didn't know that I could play 13 instruments."

And that's how OfficeMax showed their employees and the community that they Celebrate Diversity Through Inclusion. Even LGBT inclusion. Even here in Anchorage.

(Too bad the mayor wasn't listening.)


Mike said...

Officemax celebrates Diversity. Shame they discriminate against the Disabled.

Anonymous said...

Officemax is not diversified at all. My partner who worked in the Lexington Ky store was just terminated after he filed a complaint against the district manager and HR on the basis that he was gay and HIV positive. They tryed saying that he had a poor performance record. In 13 yrs with the company he had not had one write up untill the store manager decided she needed to save her job. Thats when the lies started, and when he confronted them about it on his second write up they told him not to worry about it that they couldn't fire him over numbers.

Well right after that he filed the complaint on the basis that he was gay and HIV positive, and two weeks later a write up was fabricated and they fired him. I continue to work for officemax and I'm exposing a lot of dirt on our store which is 0522 and I'm sure they will retaliate against me too. We are on a mission to have all of the LGBT community to Boycott Officemax. Officemax has so many lawsuits against them it is unbelievable. This company is so fake when it comes to diversity. Get real Sam Duncan and face the truth that you have bad management and they need to be put on there place.

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