In celebration of Pride Month, throughout June are spotlighting employees from across Molson Coors. This week, we are featuring Mackenzie (Mac) Shenker, sponsorship and events coordinator based in Toronto. Mac first joined Molson Coors in 2016, and after two years, she decided to take some much-needed time for herself and traveled to India, completing 500 hours in Yoga Teacher Training. During her time away, she had always considered returning to Molson Coors. And fast forward a few years later, she is back at Molson Coors, calling it “one big homecoming.”
Read on to learn more about Mac.
Q: Why is Pride Month special to you? How do you celebrate/recognize the month?
Pride Month holds a special place in my heart as this month represents joy, celebration, freedom and love. That said, it hasn’t always been this way. People in the LGBTQ+ community have fought tirelessly for years to be recognized, acknowledged, seen, accepted and treated as equal. This month is a representation of all of the hard work, mistreatment, tears, passion and uncomfortable (yet necessary) conversations to bring us to a place in today’s society where LGBTQ+ members are able to exist and move more freely in the world.
It simply would not have been possible had it not been for all of the people who came and fought before us. And for those who are actively working today to create more awareness and foster a safe space for all.
Every day (not just the month of June) feels like a celebration to me. This month, however, is extra special as it marks a few big milestones … my first time attending the annual Toronto Pride parade and my engagement to the absolute love of my life, Courtney. As we move throughout this month, Court and I actively engage in dialogue with family, friends and members of our communities and social networks to generate more conversation and awareness of the struggles, barriers and challenges members of the LGBTQ+ community face – simply for having the courage to be unapologetically who they were born to be.
At the end of the day, I believe we all deserve to feel safe, seen and accepted for who we are. Not because of who we love, or how we dress – but simply for who we are. Pride Month is an opportunity for us all to live loudly, authentically, and share our truest selves with the world.
Q: As we emerge from the pandemic era, how have things changed over the last two years among the LGBTQ+ community?
From my own experience over the course of the last two years, it feels as though there has been a massive surge of support through the LGBTQ+ community. People have had two years to really get to know themselves – what they want more of, what they want less of, what they stand for and discovering who they are fundamentally at the core.
There has been more conversation – generating greater permission, freedom, awareness and acceptance. Many people in the community have been finding their voice and sharing openly with the world and inspiring others to do the same. A number of social media trends throughout COVID-19 supported those in their process of coming out. A collective community has been built, helping those who may have felt “othered,” scared or otherwise alone throughout this process.
The pandemic forced me into facing some challenging questions. I’ve realized nothing in this life is guaranteed, and our life can change in the blink of an eye. Knowing this – why would I NOT be living my life to the fullest and truest capacity, as my most authentic self?
Having the support from the LGBTQ+ community, friends, families, partners, organizations and allies alike allows for greater freedom of expression and a sense of belonging. While there certainly has been division among people as a result of the pandemic, there has also been tremendous growth, support and celebration.
Q: Molson Coors is a longtime supporter of the community – going back to the 1970s. Why is it important for companies to support their LGBTQ+ workers and in the community as a whole?
It is important for companies to support their LGBTQ+ workers and the community as a whole simply because we are human beings just like everyone else - with hearts, minds, creativity, passion and a sense of purpose!
Regardless of who someone chooses to love, how they dress, or how they identify, every single person deserves to be seen, heard, acknowledged and accepted for who they are. Sexual preference and/or sexual orientation doesn’t impact one’s ability to be a great leader, colleague, team member or friend. We need diversity amongst our teams. A broad spectrum of people creates an opportunity for fresh ideas, new perspectives and greater awareness to exist throughout the team.
Knowing a sense of belonging is a core need amongst humans; it is crucial workplaces foster an environment in which that can be achieved. People spend majority of their waking hours working – it is only fair that they feel comfortable, safe to create and share their ideas, and free to be themselves without filters or fear of how they will be perceived.
Q: Throughout your time at Molson Coors, how has the culture evolved? What can people do to improve the culture?
The culture has evolved tremendously throughout the last number of years at Molson Coors. Our teams have become more diverse, and the business is taking massive strides in the right direction. Molson Coors is not just speaking about making change - they are consciously and powerfully putting these words into action in order to truly put their people first.
With the introduction of the Gender Affirmation Benefits Program, MCBC will cover the costs of masculinisation or feminisation treatments and procedures for gender transition surgery in Canada. This initiative speaks volumes to the organization’s commitment to honouring diversity, equality and inclusivity. Aside from this, gestures such as including pronouns in e-mail signatures allows people to decide for themselves how they’d like to be identified, giving employees autonomy and permission to exist freely within the workplace.
Vizzy Hard Seltzer continues to push diverse representation and support LGBTQ+ members by elevating a community that is traditionally underrepresented in advertising efforts. The brand is committed to generating programming that truly makes an impact in the world. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to be driving through my hometown and seeing bright, beautiful billboards that practically scream love, diversity and celebration for being one’s truest self.
I encourage people to continue educating themselves, have uncomfortable conversations, ask questions and reach out to partners and allies within the space! It can feel tricky navigating these conversations in a predominantly heteronormative workplace; however, in order to change with the times and truly create a culture of diversity and inclusivity, we need to continue to action our allyship.
Together we learn, together we grow, and together, we can make a difference.