Established in 2017, Kohler PROUD was one of the first Business Resource Groups (BRGs) at Kohler Co. thanks to an incredibly passionate and active group of nearly 100 members.
Focused on supporting Kohler associates, our businesses, and the broader LGBTQ+ communities where we live and work, Kohler PROUD is a catalyst for positive change and on a mission to educate and advocate for diversity and LGBTQ+ ally inclusion.
Honoring the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community and respecting individual privacy, Kohler PROUD doesn’t ask members to self-identify with any type of sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. And while they fly one iteration of the Pride flag on campus during Pride Month, the group is quick to acknowledge and support the wide range of existing LGBTQ+ expressions, flag or otherwise.
At the center of Kohler PROUD's work is the idea of creating a greater sense of belonging and inclusion among associates. "Our BRG is a place to feel welcome, just as you are," explained David Pittner, Kohler PROUD BRG co-leader and founder. "LGBTQ+ associates and allies can find community, make new connections, grow their career, develop in new areas, participate in mentorship and even lead stewardship initiatives."
Offering opportunities for all associates to participate in learning about the LGBTQ+ experience and the issues many face is an essential part of nurturing an inclusive workplace. Mandy Huth, Kohler Co. VP, Cybersecurity, found the Kohler PROUD when she needed it most. “My son, came out as a transgender male last year. I messed up pronouns, forgot proper definitions of terms, and even made him cry. But I found people in Kohler PROUD that helped me educate myself, understand different perspectives, and become a better parent as we navigated the transition together," explained Mandy. "Thank you, Kohler PROUD, for helping me navigate a new scenario with a modicum of grace and lots of understanding.”
The efforts of Kohler PROUD to promote diversity and inclusion extend to our local communities and the people who encounter our products and services as well. Kohler PROUD facilitates that work through community outreach, including networking and support of Gay-Straight Alliance high school groups.
Partnering with our KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates business, the group developed Facets of Love, a limited collection of rainbow chocolates available during Pride Month. Proceeds from every Facets of Love Pride Collection purchase will be donated to PFLAG to help build and support a safer and more inclusive environment for family, friends, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
And bringing their perspective to product innovation, several Kohler PROUD members participated in the 2020 I-Prize, Kohler’s shark-tank style event in which associates pitch innovative product ideas that address global issues. A gender-neutral “menstruation station” advanced to the finals and is currently in development.
The PROUD BRG’s ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts are at the very heart of Kohler’s gracious living mission. Enthusiastic and passionate about fostering environments where LGBTQ+ associates can thrive, Kohler PROUD is just getting started.