Representation Matters: Celebrating Pride Month

June 4, 2021 Jacquana Beckwith

Acuity Brands is proud to celebrate and recognize our top talent. In June, we will profile associates who identify as LGBTQ+ who are lighting the way for our associates, customers, and communities. We sat down with them to find out about their professional motivation and get a glimpse of who they are outside of the workplace.

“Pride is a celebration of getting to live life openly. It’s a chance for the community to come together to support one another and show that we are proud of who we are. It’s a chance for us to be visible so the younger generation can see us and know they aren’t alone.”

Greg Klaus has been lighting the way at Acuity Brands for almost two years as an HR Business Partner. His love for helping people may sound cliché, but it’s true. And as someone who gets to wear a lot of hats in his day-to-day role, he never gets bored, which is why he loves what he does so much. When it comes to leadership, Greg prefers a manager who will push him to be the best in his role. Someone who is trusting and hands-off, but there whenever he needs support. “I’ve been lucky to have that throughout my time here at Acuity.”

While no workday is ever the same for him, adding a global pandemic in the mix has made things that much busier. Adjusting to working remotely full-time proved to be a bit of a struggle. However, Greg can find so much positivity in everything.

Greg met his partner, Nick, seven months before the pandemic began. Nick lives in D.C., so it wasn’t easy for them to see each other. However, while adapting to work-from-home life was difficult at first, it has proved to be positive for their relationship, making a long-distance relationship a lot easier to maintain with the added flexibility. One thing Greg learned during the pandemic is that he enjoys spending time by himself. He is incredibly social and missed getting to see his family and friends, but once he adjusted, he ended up having fun and learning to love to do things on his own.

Outside of work, Greg is an avid fitness guy. When he’s not working, you can probably find him at the gym or spending time with Nick taking part in outdoor activities like biking, rollerblading, or kayaking. Don’t challenge Greg to a race unless you’re ready to lose. He used to be an avid runner and could run a half-mile in just under a minute and 55 seconds! You may want Greg on your team on your  Friends Trivia team. “I’ve seen every episode at least 50 times, and I always welcome a challenger for trivia.” When it comes to Pride, Greg typically attends the parade and festival every year, sometimes even walking with various organizations in the parade or volunteering at the festival as well. “I just love spending this time with my chosen family and those I love who support me.”

Greg has been open in every position that he’s had in his career. “I’m so glad I’ve chosen to do so. It’s allowed me to build authentic relationships with my leaders and coworkers. It’s allowed me to bring my full self to work every day, and it’s allowed me to be happy in my role. I know my circumstances may differ from others, but being open at work is no longer a choice I have to make; it’s just who I am. If I don’t feel supported in that, it’s probably not a place for me to work long-term. Luckily, I’ve not had that happen to me yet in my career.”

Want to know more about Greg? Check out more from his interview below!

What do you want others to know about people who identify as LGBTQ+? 

I guess I would want people to know we’re just like you. We’re sisters, brothers, moms, dads, cousins, godparents, friends. We come from all different backgrounds, but we’re ALL human.

What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the global LGBTQ+ community? 

Do some research on issues affecting the community. Bills are being passed in various states regarding the trans community or the right to refuse healthcare or services to a member of the LBGTQ+ community. Real issues impact us every day.  The more people understand and become vocal and in opposition, the better our chances of fighting for equality.  Also, talk to anyone in your life who is a member of the community. Listen to their stories. Everyone’s story is different and the struggles we go through are unique. Taking the time to listen to them and ask questions shows your interest and support.

What are some LGBTQ+ resources that you want others to be aware of?

There are local resources. A quick Google search will show you some great organizations locally. There are also larger, national organizations like The Trevor Project, GLAAD, and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). These organizations help with suicide prevention, the fight for equality, and awareness of issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.  

Who is your hero? 

Hands down, my mother- she is the strongest woman I know. She’s the most supportive mom a guy could ever ask for. We talk almost every single day, and I would be lost without her. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’ll call you later!

Who is at your dream dinner party (living or not)? Why? What are you serving? 

The first guest would be my grandmother. Sadly, she passed a few years back, and I miss her every day. She always had the most amazing stories and an infectious laugh. I’d love one more dinner with her. The other guest I would invite would be Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Having a chance to speak to a woman who was so instrumental and supportive of LGBTQ+ rights would be an absolute dream. Sadly, I’m not much of a cook, but I will happily order takeout from anywhere they want!

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