Unilever U.S. announced its continued commitment to its United We Stand (UWS) initiative, a program dedicated to helping improve conditions and access to critical services for underserved LGBTQIA+ communities across the country. The UWS initiative, which is kicking off its fifth year, focuses specifically on jurisdictions that score low on the .
Over the last two years, the United We Stand program supported organizations in five partner cities, four of which increased their HRC rankings in this timeframe: Monroe, Louisiana; Moore, Oklahoma; Clemson, South Carolina; and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In 2023, Unilever will continue to support the original five partner cities, and will add Rapid City, South Dakota, and Jonesboro, Arkansas to expand the scope of the program to seven cities. As part of the program, Unilever provides funds and support for organizations that promote systemic change and access to critical services.
“Based on the improvements we’ve seen in the majority of our UWS partner cities, we know that this program supports creating meaningful and measurable change in the lives of local LGBTQIA+ communities,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, President of Unilever USA. “The organizations we partner with on the ground play a significant role in creating equity and belonging in these locations. I am inspired by the work being done and excited to expand our program’s footprint and the vital services it funds.”
The United We Stand campaign supports Unilever’s commitment to contribute to a fairer, more socially inclusive world. Unilever fosters an inclusive workplace through its company culture, policies, and benefits, and has received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index for more than 10 consecutive years.
Unilever’s work for systemic change extends to advocating for equitable legislation at the federal and state levels, including passage of the Equality Act. In the U.S., the company has used its voice to condemn multiple anti-LGBTQIA+ state bills.
Working with Experts
Renowned community strategist and activist Sean Coleman will continue his work with Unilever to develop local partnerships that focus on promoting systemic change throughout the year, including programs dedicated to fighting conversion therapy, workplace discrimination, HIV criminalization, youth homelessness, and bullying, while helping with access to mental health and wellness services, nutritional support for the LGBTQIA+ community, and more. The partners will also work to fight anti-queer legislation across the U.S. given the recent increase in legislation targeting LGBTQIA+ communities.
“My role with United We Stand is to work with the partner cities to identify concrete ways to address both frontline and systemic issues with intentional programs and services,” said Coleman, UWS strategist. “Our goal is twofold: to increase the cities’ scores and to raise the visibility of LGBTQIA+ community members in that city. With this onslaught of anti-LGBTQIA+ and Trans legislation, projects like United We Stand address the most crucial areas of need and provide a clear and concise response that can be replicated nationally.”
Spreading the Word with Powerful Storytelling
This year’s program includes a new film by returning UWS director, celebrated artist and filmmaker Tourmaline. Set in historic Selma, Alabama, the film sheds an intimate light on the queer communities of Alabama that are continuing to fight for basic rights.
“It’s been beautiful watching the work with Unilever evolve over the years, each year powerfully and unequivocally expressing that LGBTQIA+ communities deserve safety, care, respect and joy,” said Tourmaline, director of the UWS films for five consecutive years. “Setting this year’s film in Selma will powerfully foreground the ways that people, communities and specifically Black trans people in the South have led the way in cultivating an abundance mindset that says, ‘we’ve got you.’”
The film will highlight the work of The Knights and Orchids Society, which provides healthcare, housing and peer support for queer Black people in Alabama and throughout the South.
“Our priority has always been to provide a spectrum of health and wellness services for transgender and gender-nonconforming folks,” said Quentin Bell, founder of The Knights and Orchids Society. “Alabama currently lacks legal protections for LGBTQIA+ individuals in areas including healthcare, housing, and public accommodations. I’m beyond humbled to do my part in Unilever’s United We Stand initiative, especially in my hometown of Selma. It means making a brighter tomorrow for all marginalized communities.”
The United We Stand Queer Leader network, curated by drag queen and political activist Marti Gould Cummings and ballroom legend Jack Mizrahi, will again be activated to communicate the program’s message. Leaders who’ve signed up this year include: TS Madison, Monet X Change, Latrice Royale, Adore Delano, Heidi N Closet, Landon Cider, Manila Luzon, Kim Chi, Jackie Cox, Shea Coulee, Shuga Cain, and Yvie Oddly. All will help platform the work to LGBTQIA+ communities and allies in the U.S. and get behind the push for change.
“I’ve proudly been a part of United We Stand for the past several years and it has been a complete honor,” said Cummings. “The work Unilever is doing to promote equality for our queer and transgender community is needed now more than ever. Our community is under attack and to be a part of this project helping LGBTQIA+ people in underserved communities will not only help them financially but show them that there are people fighting for them. No one is in this battle alone.”