The announcement coincides with the establishment of Optus’ new LGBTQIA+ employee network called Express Yourself – part of Optus’ Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy.
The strategy also includes formalised employee networks for Women, Ability and Disability, Culture and Heritage, Veterans and Services, and allies.
Commenting on the sponsorship, Optus managing director marketing and revenue, Matt Williams said: “It is thrilling to announce our support of Mardi Gras and Sydney WorldPride 2023 at a time when embracing and celebrating diversity and individuality is more important than ever.
“It’s been a tough two years locally and globally, and we know the optimism that comes from one of the most important and renowned international pride festivals. The theme, United We Shine, is absolutely the tonic needed as the world gradually begins to open up.”
Albert Kruger, CEO Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, said: “Connection helps build community and this is one of the key roles Mardi Gras plays.
“We connect people to form a strong and resilient LGBTQIA+ community. Together, as a united community, we then have the strength to push for equality. We’re incredibly pleased to have Optus join us as our partner, to help us further connect with LGBTQIA+ people across Australia”.
Sydney WorldPride CEO, Kate Wickett said: “As we see the human rights of LGBTQIA+ people challenged and often eroded around the world it’s critical that partners like Optus stand with the community and make their voices heard through corporate leadership.
“It’s important because it also sends a message to Optus employees and customers that they truly celebrate and welcome diversity. We are so excited to partner with Optus and look forward to presenting an unforgettable WorldPride with them”.
Williams added: “The LGBTQIA+ community have long shown resilience and commitment for a safer and more inclusive world, particularly in Australia from the pioneering [Mardi Gras] 78ers to the advocation for marriage equality and everything in between.
“Optus is standing proud in our support of the LGBTQIA+ community and wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe Mardi Gras festival, and we can’t wait to connect with the community at Fair Day and the Parade.”
Optus will also be supporting Queer Screen which is part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras festival program.
Queer Screen, Co-Chair Cheryl Kavanagh, said: “We are ecstatic about welcoming Optus on board as a Presenting Partner for the next three years and look forward to seeing Optus employees and customers at the Mardi Gras Film Festival this month.
“We see our core values – diversity, inspiration, creativity, inclusiveness and pride – reflected in Optus’ Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy,” added Co-Chair Abs Osseiran.
“While the aims of the LGBTQIA+ employee network, called Express Yourself, are undoubtedly aligned with our vision to celebrate queer identities on screen!”