As an Eastman lab technician, Elaina Campbell tries to find innovative solutions — like new biodegradable materials — to problems like single-use cups and packaging waste.

Campbell uses those same problem-solving skills to help others through Equality, an Eastman Resource Group (ERG) that offers a sense of community and opens doors to career opportunities and networking for LGBTQ+ employees around the globe.

Being a lab technician is often associated with “grunt work,” as Campbell calls it. But that has not been her experience at Eastman.

“They encourage us to be involved in what the work means and to be able to present it, so we know what we’re doing and have investment in it,” she said.

Campbell also sees a difference when it comes to inclusion. At Eastman’s site in Kingsport, Tennessee, she found a chance to lend her voice to others who may not feel as comfortable speaking up for themselves.

“I joined Equality as soon as I started at Eastman because I really valued being out at work as a bisexual woman,” Campbell said. “But I know acceptance isn’t a guarantee at every job. Having an ERG here meant that I have some level of security, and I want to make sure to pass that security along to other people.”

Stepping up for others

Over time, Campbell found herself moving from Equality member to advocate.

She aided in a conversation with Eastman’s legal department about appropriate pronoun usage for a fellow employee who was coming out as transgender, helping ensure they were properly represented.

The global chair of Equality, Whitney Holt, took notice and reached out to see if Campbell was interested in being a chair of the Kingsport chapter of the group.

According to Holt, being there to support other members of the LGBTQ+ community at Eastman is part of what makes Equality so important.

“With Equality, I get to see the growth in the community — people that feel like they hadn't been seen or heard or supported before,” Holt said. “They get to network with other people in the community. They build a network of allies that can help them achieve whatever it is they’re looking for at the company.”

That network includes non-LGBTQ+ allies, who are also an important part of the equation.

“Our allies at Eastman make us feel safe,” Campbell said.

Living authentically at work

Having experienced an environment that was not supportive, Campbell feels Eastman provides a great support system through Equality, and she values working for a company that lends its support to a diverse community.

“I’m really glad to have seen the bar move from, ‘You have to tolerate us,’ to acceptance,” she said. “That warms me up because, if there was only hope I would be merely tolerated at work, I might not be out. But through the work of a lot of people who came before me, now we’re accepted here at Eastman — and that’s really important.”

Members of Equality resource group stand in front of Eastman’s booth at TriPride

Members of Equality resource group stand in front of Eastman’s booth at TriPride