On October 19, over 400 HBO employees—including HBO CEO Richard Plepler—gathered outside HBO’s Manhattan headquarters on the Grace Plaza to celebrate Spirit Day, the annual observance, coinciding with National Bullying Prevention Month, promoting an alliance against bullying, specifically against lesbian, gay, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) youth.

HBO Out, HBO’s employee resource group for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (LGBTQQAI) employess, spearheaded the initiative in partnership with a cross-departmental group including Corporate Social Responsibility, Digital and Social Media, Photo Services, Employee Communications, and Design and Production.

The Photo Services team's time lapse.

All agreed: Spirit Day created an atmosphere for employees so warm and so comfortable that it fostered a sense of pride in the company and greater compassion for one another.

But the spirit didn’t end on Grace Plaza. Rather than simply promote HBO’s valued content as it had in the past, the digital and social media team launched a campaign driven by employee engagement. Important to the Spirt Day team’s mission, it allowed all HBO employees the opportunity to express their HBO pride as well as their team spirit.

HBO Chairman & CEO Richard Plepler addresses the crowd.

“The core values of HBO have always been decency, integrity, honor and respect for one another. That has always been the company I have been proud to work at, from the bottom of my heart,” said Plepler as he rallied the crowd. “Hold each other, lift each other up, root for each other, cheer for each other, push us forward. That’s just who we are.”

HBO’s past Spirit Day celebrations included special social posts related to programming and changing the HBO logo to the color purple, however, this is the first time HBO has actively involved all employees in the campaign. The turnout was overwhelming, and proud employees filled Grace Plaza for the photo opportunity, which was meticulously designed and produced by HBO’s Photo Services team.

In partnership with GLAAD, the national media-centered nonprofit dedicated to expanding LGBTQ acceptance, employees were educated on the importance of this day, LGBTQQAI or not. GLAAD not only acted as a vital resource to HBO, but also acknowledged their partners who participated in the alliance against bullying. You can see GLAAD’s shout-out below. 

Mary Johnson is Associate Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility at HBO.