CANNES, FRANCE: Procter & Gamble reckons with its anti-LGBTQ past in a new documentary, Out of the Shadows, that debuted at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday.
Produced by Great Big Films, the 25-minute film documents the progress spearheaded by a group of P&G employees fighting for equality. The group came together after a city charter called Article 12 was passed in Cincinnati, Ohio, preventing the city from protecting people because of their sexual orientation. They formed an internal group called GABLE, which stands for "Gay, Bisexual and Lesbian Employees of P&G."
The cast of heroes includes former P&G associate director and manager of the global trends group Gary Wright, former finance manager Heidi Bruins Green, now-retired associate director of R&D Ed Offshack, section manager of IT Delaine Adkins and former finance manager of global beauty care R&D Andi Adkins.
The film picks up where The Words Matter, another P&G-commissioned film, left off. Following the company’s 1992 initiative to add sexual orientation to its equal employment opportunity statement, the battle to implement changes in the company’s culture, practices and HR policies begins.
"Simply put, there was more story to be told," said Brent Miller, P&G’s associate director of global beauty comms and leader of LGBTQ comms, via email. Miller was also executive producer of the film.
He added that Out of the Shadows is a continuation of P&G’s work to highlight bias and drive a meaningful discussion. It was created to further recognize the courageous individuals that made a lasting impact on both P&G "and the communities in which we live," Miller said.
One of the biggest hurdles GABLE had to overcome was instituting a company policy that would recognize and cover same-sex couples and their family. In the film, Adkins says she spent $55,000 on health insurance she had to purchase outside of P&G to cover her family, including three sons.
"The progress made – often in the face of strong resistance – helped to change the workplace culture, community attitudes and strengthened our commitment to treat every employee equally," Miller explained. "Through personal stories, conversation and one-to-one relationships, these employees helped to expose bias, create human connection and change hearts and minds."
The film shows that, over time, the group gathered allies, such as Waldo Jeff, associate of HR and former global diversity manager. GABLE enlisted Jeff’s help early in his career.
"I don’t even know where the bathroom is in this organization yet and you’re already calling me to begin the battle in the global world with sexual orientation," Jeff recalls in the documentary.
Eventually, the group’s advocates included some of the company’s top executives, including Charlotte Otto, the then-SVP of public affairs, former vice chairwoman Susan Arnold who is openly lesbian, and John Pepper, former chairman and CEO.
Today, GABLE has 5,000 members in 54 countries.
"Out of the Shadows joins other campaigns that bring attention to LGBT+ inclusion, including The Words Matter, Love Over Bias, Secret’s Ladies Room, Head & Shoulders’ Shoulders of Greatness and Vicks Touch of Care," Miller said via email.
For the past few years, P&G has produced purpose-focused brand films. In 2017, The Talk took on racism against the backdrop of Black Lives Matter. P&G launched The Look as a follow-up earlier this week.