Sichel has only been a part of the Hallmark family for 18 months, but he’s already met the moment several times. He leads legal and business affairs matters, and oversaw distribution in an interim capacity a few months after his first day. The launch of three Hallmark networks on YouTube TV in November was a huge win. The world is changing, but he often advises allies to get honest with themselves about assumptions about the LGBTQ+ community before waving a rainbow flag. “We all have biases of some sort, and they are usually based on not having a lot of experiences with people in a particular community. I encourage everyone to interact with people that may be different than you,” he says. “And don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you might not know.”
How does your company encourage employees to bring their true selves to work? Key tenets at Hallmark Media are diversity and inclusivity. These principles are imbued in the company’s culture, both internally and in our presentation on screen. Employees at all levels are responsible for fostering an open, respectful place to work. Because of this, I am hopeful each of us feels comfortable bringing our true selves to work every day (whether in the office or working remotely) so that we can share ideas based, in part, on our individual backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, races, sexual orientations and any other parts of ourselves that make us unique. We celebrate an open environment because it cultivates two very important things: a happy place to come to work and a place where every employee can make meaningful and innovative contributions to the company’s mission and goals. Hallmark Media partners with many organizations that share this philosophy, including the T. Howard Foundation, of which I’m proud to be a board member, as well as GLAAD, Alliance for Women in Media, Emma Bowen Foundation, NAMIC, Walter Kaitz and The WICT Network to name a few. Equally importantly, I am so grateful to represent entertainment platforms that allow all viewers to see themselves in our programming. From our Mahogany franchise that celebrates Black culture, to movies about families of all makes and models, including “The Christmas House” and “The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls;” “Love, Classified;” and “South Beach Love,” Hallmark Media embraces stories that explore what makes us unique, while spotlighting the many experiences we share in common.
Advice for allies on how to show up for their LGBTQ+ colleague? The first piece of advice I have on being an ally to LGBTQ+ colleagues is to get honest with yourself. We all have biases of some sort, and they are usually based on not having a lot of experiences with people in a particular community. I encourage everyone to interact with people that may be different than you. This is a belief I have taught my kids from the day they understood my words. Find people at your company that you have common interests with and who also happen to be LGBTQ+ and have lunch with them or have a virtual coffee or tea with them. Treat everyone, including those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, like you would anyone else. And don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you might not know. Then, listen with an open mind, from a place without judgment. Participate in activities that you might otherwise not have done, like joining an AIDS walk or taking time to join a work-learning session that features panels of LGBTQ+ members. And if there are no such sessions, encourage your company to sponsor one. Most importantly, I believe so strongly that we are better for the mixture of people, including LGBTQ+ individuals, who make up an organization. I am thankful for my colleagues daily at Hallmark Media for providing such a rich mix.