Fostering Workplace Equality

The Kodak Values

When George M. C. Fisher became the CEO of Eastman Kodak Company in 1993, he helped introduce the Kodak Values:

In addition to being ethical guidelines for Kodak's diversity initiative and associated policy change, the were treated as standards for individual behavior in employee evaluations.

When Daniel "Dan" Carp replaced Fisher as CEO of Eastman Kodak Company, he introduced a sixth value: recognition and celebration.

Advocating for Inclusive Policies

The transformative impacts of the Civil Rights Movement, New Left, and related movements advocating for justice and equality resonated across corporate America, ushering in a wave of diversity and inclusion initiatives. Beyond the economic pressures driving Kodak to restructure and acquire new skills for the competitive digital imaging market, the broader incentive for diversification was evident. George Fisher's commitment to facilitating this transition positioned the Lambda Network as a potent influence on Kodak's corporate culture, but they were not alone in their pursuit. Activists, employee networks, and corporations nationwide collaborated to champion LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

During the 1995 Education Event, Elizabeth Birch, Director of the Human Rights Campaign, criticized Kodak's absence of Domestic Partnership (DP) benefits. Convinced of their significance, Kodak's Vice President of Human Resources, Mike Morley, recognized that incorporating DP benefits into Kodak's policy would underscore the company's commitment to diversity and the Kodak values. Consequently, he spearheaded a team to integrate these benefits. The following year, Morley advocated for the Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA) before Congress, leading to Kodak extending all dependent care benefits to the domestic partners of its employees in 1997.

Mike Morley testifies for ENDA, 1996

At the 1997 Lambda Network Education Event, diversity and inclusion expert Heather Wishik challenged attendees to discuss their family lives without revealing their sexual orientation. The exercise revealed common feelings of loneliness, dishonesty, and confusion experienced by closeted employees, illustrating to Kodak management how an open and accepting environment was crucial for employee well-being and business success. Activists strategically aligned LGBTQ acceptance with corporate profit, demonstrating how the closet inhibited business. 

LNAK exhibit audio · Chuck Collins relates the network's success to Kodak's marketing goals

Kodak and the Lambda Network partnered with many external organizations and events, local and national. While these collaborations showcased Kodak products and job opportunities, they also nurtured communities of learning and celebration beyond the workplace environment. Such connections enabled Lambda members to engage with LGBTQ organizations outside of work, exemplified by Emily Jones assuming the role of co-chair of the HRC Business Council.

Beyond Kodak and Lambda, Xerox and its LGBTQ employee network, GALAXe (Gays and Lesbians at Xerox), along with the City of Rochester's LGBTQ inclusive policy, attracted the planning committee of Out & Equal '98. Rochester became the first East Coast city to host the national conference on LGBTQ workplace issues.

Workplace conferences like Out & Equal '98 provided a platform for employee groups and company representatives to share strategies, learn from one another, and develop connections, amplifying the legitimacy of the workplace movement. Corporate benchmarking inspired change across companies, with LGBTQ-inclusive policies becoming a competitive advantage. The success of employee networks and activists spurred a broader adoption of these policies across various corporations. Explore more about the workplace movement in the corresponding exhibit.

Lambda Network Partner Organizations

Annual February Cabin Party

Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) 

Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley (now Out Alliance)

Gay Games

Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (Gender PAC)

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 

Holiday Gayla

HRC "Business Coalition for Benefits Tax Equity"

Image Out

National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now National LGBTQ Task Force) 

Out & Equal Workplace Conference

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)

Rochester Pride Parade

Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) 

View the Lambda Network's "A Guide For Supporting Diversity in the Workplace" for a more comprehensive list.