The End & Legacy of Lambda

Kodak's Bankruptcy

The Lambda Network's educational initiatives and sustained support from corporate leadership extended well into the first half of the 2000s. Kodak, reflecting its commitment to inclusivity, updated its human resources policy to safeguard gender identity and encompass coverage for procedures, services, and supplies related to sex transformation. In 2002, Bob Berman, then Chief of Kodak HR, took the advocacy a step further by championing ENDA in Congress. By 2004, marking the Lambda Network's 10th anniversary, the influential Elizabeth Birch returned to Kodak during that year's Education Event. Her presence was a celebratory acknowledgment of Lambda and Kodak as leaders in the national struggle for inclusion, encouraging them to recognize their impactful roles.

Elizabeth Birch at the 2004 (10th) Education Event with Management

The symbiotic relationship between Kodak's financial stability and Lambda's success became apparent during Kodak's transition to digital-imaging solutions. The turning point occurred on January 19th, 2012, when Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. By that time, the employee networks were already diminishing. Some members departed upon retirement, while others chose to disengage from the support networks. The aftermath of layoffs and company reorganization prompted individuals to prioritize securing their careers, further deterring participation in the networks. These shifts led to a decline in Lambda Network activity following Kodak's bankruptcy declaration, ultimately culminating in its cessation in 2017.

A Leader in LGBTQ Inclusion

At Kodak, in Rochester communities, and throughout corporate America, the Lambda Network helped LGBTQ people come out of the closet, find community, and feel safe at work. They helped create allies, role models, and activists, and inspired Kodak to become a corporate leader for LGBTQ inclusion.

LNAK exhibit audio · David Kosel recalls excitment after the Lambda Network's formation

Former Lambda Network leaders recalled that their experience interacting with Kodak managers helped them progress professionally in their careers. Many also broadened their LGBTQ activism beyond Kodak, becoming involved with community activism through Rochester’s Out Alliance, its chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PLFAG), and through progressive churches including the Downtown Presbyterian Church. Furthermore, other corporations followed Kodak’s lead in supporting LGBTQ inclusion in the workplace; for example, General Motors adopted the “Can We Talk?” educational program.

Inspiring Advancement

Since Lambda, legal rights for LGBTQ people in the U.S. have significantly advanced in and outside the workplace. The 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling declared same-sex marriage protected by the U.S. Constitution, and in the 2020 Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The members of Kodak Lambda played a significant role in creating the cultural changes necessary to secure these formal rights, and to make LGBTQ inclusion a reality.

The Lambda Network at Kodak logo