Opening doors: a conversation with Chad Schwarz
During Pride Month, we sat down with PrideMatters employee resource group (ERG) member and senior vice president Chad Schwarz to learn about his role in the firm's Diversity & Inclusion program, what he enjoys most about working at AlixPartners, and what advice he'd offer to organizations that are starting LGBTQ programs.
What measures does AlixPartners take to support its LGBTQ employees?
I feel support for LGBTQ issues and broader community from the very top of our organization. I love the fact that at almost every opportunity our CEO speaks, he discusses the importance of diversity and inclusion. I also see it in support from our PrideMatters executive sponsors and the ability to attend highly recognized LGBTQ conferences and networking events. Also, as identified in our 100% HRC Equality Index score, you can see the different areas from benefits, marketing, and philanthropy that the firm actively supports the LGBTQ community.
How is AlixPartners celebrating Pride Month in the US and around the world?
We’ve had a great mix of Pride Month activities globally across our offices, which include the Trans Now Awards Gala, The Economist’s Pride & Prejudice Conference, Harvey Milk (and Cookies) office exhibits, social and volunteer events, and chapters attending different pride parades. Additionally, we put some very interesting educational content together. Collectively, we have a great array of events that celebrate the month, but also educate and raise awareness on important LGBTQ issues.
Why did AlixPartners decide to sponsor the recent Pride and Prejudice conference?
We decided to sponsor the Pride & Prejudice event for a second year for a number of reasons, but I think some of the important items include the visibility and draw The Economist has, the global aspect and being able to raise awareness of LGBTQ issues in Asia and, most importantly, the leading business leaders and LGBT figures with very dynamic discussions on cutting-edge topics. For me, the most powerful takeaway this year were the conversations centered around companies that are becoming more publicly vocal in their advocacy of LGBTQ issues, especially when they are contra to their core values or codes of conduct.
What has been your personal journey within AlixPartners?
I started at the firm almost 6 years ago, within Investigations, Disputes, & Risk in our DC office. I then moved to Dallas, and now work remotely from St. Louis. I spend most of my time working within our e-discovery practice but am now delighted to work with Cindy Godwin helping to embed the Diversity & Inclusion program within all aspects of the firm. My journey on the D&I side of things started about two years ago with the creation of the PrideMatters ERG. What started as a side project became a passion, and lead to a different career path within the firm.
In addition to your role within AlixPartners, how else are you working on behalf of the LGBTQ community externally?
I am actively involved with Out & Equal and Resource Center Dallas. Additionally, I was recently asked to be on the board for the onePULSE Foundation, which I am deeply honored by, and am excited to contribute towards plans for the permanent museum and memorial for the Pulse Nightclub victims. In fact, I recently participated in a fundraiser for the onePULSE Foundation, which involved a 5K run, where part of the route followed in the same steps of the victims from the nightclub to the Orlando Health Hospital. This was definitely a very moving experience.
What do you enjoy the most about working at AlixPartners?
I love the exposure to very challenging/complex work and the opportunity to work with amazingly smart colleagues. I feel that we have a family aspect within our culture, and I always look forward to visiting different offices and catching up with colleagues. Beyond doing exceptional work, we also have great individuals, and many happen to be great friends.
What advice would you offer organizations that are in earlier stages of building their own LGBTQ programs?
Allies are key to making any ERG successful. I would work to actively include them from the very beginning.
Starting out, you often need as much help as you can get, and allies can be your biggest champions. Additionally, I think strong communication is important. Especially starting out, you need to be proactive about communicating to the members and broader company to show them the work the ERG is doing, to get them interested, and to begin raising awareness on important issues.