Since Devon Wooley joined JCPenney in 2015, her life has grown richer both personally and professionally. A digital merchandising manager, she helps bring the company’s home products to life on jcp.com. And just 10 months ago, she and her wife had their first child, a baby boy named Lennon.
Thinking about what she will tell Lennon about this time – when the country was in the midst of a national conversation and social movement – she hopes it will be that there was lasting change. “What if this is what we needed?” she said. “As traumatic as this year has been, what if this is what we needed to force us to make changes and take action?”
One important step came last week with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to forbid discrimination against gay, bisexual, and transgender employees. More than half of US states did not have such protections in place. “The fact that we even had to say that a 1964 ruling had to be upheld today is sad, but people are being held accountable for following the rules, and we are starting to course correct,” Wooley said. “The answer to a lot of these issues comes down to treating people the way you want to be treated.”
Wooley and her wife, Ashley, want to teach their son that Golden Rule principle, and they use their lives as an example. They make a point of being active on social media, frequently posting family photos and the latest pictures of Lennon to bring visibility to the fact that families come in all shapes and sizes.
This year, annual Pride celebrations will look different due to the pandemic, preventing people from gathering for large parades and conversations. Wooley said she is focused on sharing her message on Instagram and Facebook, among other social sites.
And she is also thanking her company. JCPenney recently named Juneteenth an annual holiday, affirmed the company’s belief that black lives matter, and celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court decision with Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts. “I’m very appreciative that we as a company are putting ourselves out there,” she said. “We were once named Golden Rule stores, and in the last few weeks, I’ve been especially proud of who we are at JCPenney.”