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#Pride30: Travel executive Rick Meadows is making diversity a 'business imperative'

In addition to running a division of Carnival Corporation, business leader Rick Meadows is helping to move the needle on LGBTQ rights in Bermuda.
Image: Rick Meadows
Rick MeadowsMeryl Schenker Photography

Rick Meadows, president of Carnival Corporation’s luxury cruise line Seabourn, was instrumental in advocating for his company to become the only major corporation to join LGBTQ advocacy group OUTBermuda in an effort to change a law passed earlier this year that banned same-sex marriages in the Commonwealth and also on board cruise ships that, like many owned by Carnival Corporation, are registered in Bermuda. Earlier this month, the law was overturned, and Bermuda legalized gay marriage once again.

Meadows, who is based in Seattle, serves as chairman of Carnival Corporation’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, where he promotes inclusivity throughout his company’s many subsidiaries, which include Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Cunard, among others. He is also engaged in a number of local LGBTQ community efforts, including the Greater Seattle Business Association, the largest LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce in North America.

Among Meadows’ numerous awards, he was honored in 2016 by The Seattle Business Journal as one of the “Outstanding Voices” in their Business of Pride program, which highlights local LGBTQ business leaders, allies and advocates who are making a difference in advancing equality in the business world.

NBC News spoke with Meadows for NBC Out’s #Pride30 special.

What inspired you to lead the way by becoming the only public company to support the legal challenge in Bermuda?

“One of the beauties of travel is that it allows us to broaden our own personal perspectives and understanding, because it places us in new surroundings that hopefully push the boundaries of our mind and beliefs. Travel is powerful. As a leading travel corporation, Carnival Corporation and its cruise line brands have long supported the belief that our employees, guests and the public at large deserve equal dignity and respect…

“We also believe our voice is able to help raise the plight and concerns of the LGBTQ community in Bermuda that will ultimately have a positive impact on this important issue in Bermuda and elsewhere.”

Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald has talked about how diversity of thinking has become an important part of how your company does business and innovates. How has this had a positive impact?

“Leaders foster change by creating a dialogue around equality and diversity in the spirit of collaboration. This conversation contributes to a diverse and healthy workplace. That consistent dialogue creates change, fostering a culture of support and advocacy. Successful change comes from within, where each employee feels empowered to support sound policies that encourage and enable teams to innovate and succeed. Carnival Corporation acknowledges that diversity is a business imperative, and diversity of thinking is a powerful advantage for our organization. It’s critical in supporting an engaged and motivated workforce, recruiting and retaining employees, and aligning with our guest’s expectations in today’s world.”

What is your advice to other business leaders who can make a difference but are worried about taking a risk on supporting LGBTQ rights?

“There are so many successful leaders throughout the public and private sector who actively support LGBTQ rights. Take the time to understand the stories and lessons of others and build upon those allies that share the goal for your success. Perhaps find several mentors who can coach you along the way, and then be sure to pay it forward.”

What does “pride” mean to you?

“Pride for me is confidence in knowing who you are, what you stand for and how you reflect that in your life. Reflecting pride by staying in the conversation, remaining consistent and always showing up.”

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