June 20, 2022

How Businesses Can Actually Support LGBTQ+ Employees

… even when it’s not June

Nora and Scott speak with Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of GLAAD, about how the non-profit is working to shape the media narrative around LGBTQ issues. Then, Ellie Parsons, director of mobile engineering at Ovia Health, shares her personal transition story and details how businesses, employers and colleagues can actually be supportive and offer resources to LGBTQ+ folks. For more info on our presenting sponsor, check out grayscale.com/businesscasual


Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky

Producer: Bella Hutchins 

Video Editors: Mckenzie Marshall and Christie Muldoon

Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus

Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder

Fact Checker: Kate Brandt 

Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop

VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer 


Full transcripts for all Business Casual episodes available at https://businesscasual.fm


Nora Ali: From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers, and innovators who can tell us what it all means and why we should care. Now, let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: Okay, Scott, it's Pride month.

Scott Rogowsky: Happy Pride.

Nora Ali: Happy Pride. What's Pride like over on your coast in LA?

Scott Rogowsky: In Los Angeles? Well, it's always hard to tell when it's Pride month in West Hollywood, where I was just there the other week, and obviously, it is Pride month. Yeah. But it's kind of always, every night is hopping and bopping. And there are parties and celebrations and libations. But again, this happens pretty regularly all year long in West Hollywood. Where I am in my little enclave by the beach, it's a typical June day and not a whole lot of activity. But you do see the flags out there. This is the time of year where you see the flags, a lot of the Pride-washing, rainbow-washing? I don't know what they call it. There's definitely some criticism around some of the ways—

Nora Ali: Corporations marketing themselves, yes.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. Look, it's obviously a great month to celebrate the LGBT community and to stand with them. And unfortunately, you'd think every year would just get better and better and easier and easier. But there seems to be a regression in trans, and just, I don't know, we can't seem to get past some of these issues.

Nora Ali: And a lot of the responsibility more and more falls on employers, not just for things like health benefits, insurance covering things like therapy, medical procedures, but also just creating this safe environment to make sure that all your employees can be who they want to be and lean into their own identities. So we had a couple of really great conversations on this episode. Today, we're speaking with Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO of GLAAD, about how the nonprofit is working to shape the media narrative around LGBTQ+ issues, not just during Pride month, but all year round. And then we'll hear a very personal transition story from Ellie Parsons, who tells us how businesses, employers, and colleagues can actually be supportive and offer resources to LGBTQ+ folks. We will get to our conversation first with Sarah Kate Ellis, after a quick break.

 Scott Rogowsky: Sarah Kate, it's a pleasure to have you on the show. We want to get into your background. We want to talk all about GLAAD and what exactly the organization does. So let's start with that. GLAAD was founded in 1985 by a small group of writers and journalists in New York City in response to the New York Post's defamatory HIV and AIDS coverage. And look, for those of us who have grown up in a more enlightened and accepting culture, can you describe what that coverage around gay issues was like back in the '80s?

Sarah Kate Ellis: Absolutely. The reason that it was founded was because it was during the AIDS crisis. And what was happening is, the newspapers were reporting on specifically, really gay men in incredibly terrible ways, like defamatory. And we realized that we had to be a watchdog, our founders did, and to hold them accountable. At the same time, which I thought was just the sheer brilliance of our founders, they realized that a lot of the reasons we were being covered this way is because nobody knew who we were. We were essentially invisible. And so what they did was they started to lobby Hollywood in order to have our stories told and have us included in storytelling out of Hollywood.

Nora Ali: Well, Sarah Kate, if you look at the About page for GLAAD, it says "GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance." And I'd love for you to explain to us what exactly that means. What are the entities you're working with and how has the mission around that changed over the last 35 years?

Sarah Kate Ellis: It's funny, the mission has never changed. What has changed is the world around the mission. And so we've had to morph around that. So if you think about it, in 1985, the cultural conversation was coming out of two places: New York media and Hollywood, California. And so we were in both of those places.

Now, culture is created by CEOs. It's created by Silicon Valley. It's created by influencers. It's created by politicians. So where we used to be just in those two places, now we work with businesses. Now we work with Silicon Valley. Now we work with video games. Do you know there's a disproportionate amount of LGBTQ people who play video games and are engaged in video games?

And so we've had to go to all these places to help shape the narrative. And the way I talk about it in terms of "rewriting the script" is really about creating the narrative that's fair and accurate around our community.

Nora Ali: And with definitions evolving, awareness evolving over time, it's a big responsibility for you, Sarah Kate, being the president and CEO of GLAAD. So you stepped into that role in 2014. What were some of your first priorities when you started working with GLAAD, and what got you to that point?

Sarah Kate Ellis: I think the main priority when I got to the organization was really about modernizing the organization, because we hadn't kept up with the changing media environment and the changing community, as you both have pointed out. There were those two big things that were happening, and we needed to catch up and then get ahead of it too, even.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, it's interesting. There's an article that was published back in 2016 called "How Sarah Kate Ellis Saved GLAAD," because really...I mean, I guess this is a part of the history that maybe people don't know, but GLAAD was really in a crisis when you joined in 2014. There was revenue issues and the whole, it seemed like the tactics, there were campaigns against Hollywood people like Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan—really being abrasive towards Hollywood in a sense, whereas you've now changed the mode to maybe embrace Hollywood, and you said, "I was either hired to turn GLAAD around or shut it down." And what made you choose to turn it around versus maybe taking that other route of shutting it down?

Sarah Kate Ellis: It wasn't my choice, whether or not it was going to turn around or shut down. I wanted it to turn around. It was whether or not the market could support it, and would support it, truly. And that was about going out to donors and supporters. And we were working off of what you call a depletion model, meaning that I would look every day and see how many days I had until we were out of money.

So it was a painful, painful first year, a lot of sleepless nights on making payroll and things like that. But what I found was, the world needs GLAAD, and people believed in the organization and the greatness that it could achieve. And so people really got behind it to support us and get us back up on our feet again.

Nora Ali: Where does that funding come from? What is the business model for an organization that is for the greater good?

Sarah Kate Ellis: So it varies. And the one thing that weighed heavily on me when I first started was that we were really dependent on our GLAAD Media Awards, which are these two big events that we do in LA and New York. But those events are actually programmatic events, because what we do is we measure media on representation and then those who do it really well, instead of just being a watchdog, we decided we needed to give rewards for people and encourage people to do great work.

So those were the basic lines of revenue. Since then, we've expanded tremendously. So we have a lot of great foundation work. We have a lot of major philanthropists, and then we also have our GLAAD Media Institute, and our GLAAD Media Institute was born out of this idea that here were businesses, especially Hollywood businesses, and now it's expanded across every industry, but initially when I started, who were using our IP to create these magnificent shows that they were grossing a lot of revenue off of, and we weren't getting anything. They were telling our stories, we were advising them on them, and then they were profiting off of them. And I thought, "Well, that doesn't seem right." And we're a marginalized community.

So we created an arm of the GLAAD Media Institute, where we have an actual consultancy arm—because they can take our advice or leave it—if we like the product, we will support it. If we think it's fair and accurate and that it will help our community, we'll support it on a promotional level.

But that's a line of revenue that we didn't have before, that has really helped the organization as well. But we always reserve the right—I always say, "My number one client is the community." And so if I think any content is dangerous for the community, I will speak out. Even though we might be retained, it's always our first right.

Nora Ali: So the lines of revenue are in support of the community. That is the bottom line. So you used to work in the for-profit space. You were the vice president of marketing at Real Simple before you joined GLAAD. What were some learnings from the for-profit worlds that you applied to the nonprofit world of GLAAD that allowed you to come up with these strategies to create the sustainable business, even though it is for the community at the end of the day?

Sarah Kate Ellis: Well, I think what was really interesting that I was able to take over from being on the business side of magazine publishing was how to value work, and how to assign a value to the work that we did. And I think that most importantly, I always called it the lowest-hanging fruit. When I started, and we were talking about the financial challenges that we had, I knew how to work through business, to get a large sum of money from them to support our business.

So I was able to put together sponsorships and packages pretty early on with corporate, because I understood what they valued, and I knew what we had as assets. And I could put those together. We've moved a lot more away from that and into this consultancy model now, but that was around events, too.

Scott Rogowsky: We're talking to someone else in this episode, Ellie Parsons, who was sharing her transition experience and how she navigated that at work. And one of the things she emphasized is the fact that there's no typical transition story or narrative. Everyone's journey is different. And you mentioned how vast the community is. Everyone wants to celebrate the individual within the community. Why do you think it's so important when it comes to fairly and accurately telling the stories of transgender lives in the media? I mean, you talk openly yourself about how it took you a long time to come out at work during the late '90s, early 2000s. But when you did, your career took off. So you're like Sy Sperling. You're not just a president, you're also a client. You're also part of this community. I'd love to hear about your story and how you bring that to your work.

Sarah Kate Ellis: I think there's two questions there. The first being trans representation, right? So in all of the research that we have, and I'm super research geeky-based, I like to do a lot of research to understand the challenges and the problems, and then create a strategy against them to tackle them. So one of the things that I know is 90% of Americans say they know someone who's gay or lesbian or bi, and 16% of Americans say they know someone who's trans. That means the rest of America is learning who trans people are through media.

And so if we share fair and accurate and humanizing stories of trans people, we will build acceptance and safety. Ultimately, it's about living in a safe society. Trans people do not live in a safe society in this United States of America. It's not happening right now. And so by telling their stories and by humanizing them, we are able to bring people along to change hearts and minds, to educate, and therefore create a safe society for especially trans and gender-nonconforming folks.

In terms of my own coming out story, it is very much like you said, Scott, which is I didn't come out because I thought it was going to be a career wrecker. And what it ended up being was a career accelerator. It was terrifying, though. And I think still in this day and age, even with Gen Z and Gen alpha where they are out and proud in a different way than we were ever able to or thought we could ever be, it's still terrifying coming out. Make no mistake: For the LGBTQ community, even if there are pride flags all over the office, you just don't know how people are going to react. And so kudos to Ellie for coming out. It's brave. And you have to make sure, though, when you are coming out that you have a safety plan in place for yourself.

Nora Ali: GLAAD, I know, posted a piece recently covering recommendations for corporate allies. And we'd love to hear from you. What does corporate accountability mean, in practice? Whether it's creating a safe environment for your employees or how you spend your dollars, your advocacy for legislation. What are the recommendations there?

Sarah Kate Ellis: So I think the great news here is that corporate allyship is evolving. What it used to look like was inside of the corporation, it was about policies and procedures and ERGs, which stands for employee resource groups inside the organizations. Now and over the past couple of years, what we've thought and where we play and work as GLAAD is in, how are you showing up externally? How are you using your advertising dollars? How are you speaking out against all of this anti-LGBTQ legislation? What politicians are you funding, and how bad are they for our community?

And so when we put together a recommendation, it's with the understanding that within your organization and company, that you have the right policies, and there are multiple organizations that can actually help you with that, like Out & Equal. And then there is this outward, how are you using your public sphere to help this community? Because I want to be really clear with corporate: You can't just advertise to us and market to us in the month of June. If you are, you are joining our movement. Our movement is a movement of marginalized people who need support year round. And I just think that somehow, because Pride is fun and joyous and it should be, that some people lose the plot here, that we have people who are being murdered. We have 250 anti-LGBTQ bills that have been put against us. We have a rhetoric campaign from some far right people that is damaging and causing great pain. If you saw this weekend, there were 31 people arrested for heading to a Pride group in Idaho to start a riot. So we are still living in an unsafe America, and we need corporates to step up, and not just market to our community.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, it's unfortunate or perhaps predictable, that LGBTQ rights in this country would become politicized, but GLAAD has to get political, right? Because you're playing within this system, how do you navigate the politics of it? Half the country votes one way, half the country votes the other way. But these are basic human rights issues that you are trying to advocate for. What is your strategy there?

Sarah Kate Ellis: You said it. The majority of the country, though, votes for equality, and time and time again, year over year, we measure this, and Americans believe that LGBTQ people should be safe and equal and have justice on their side. And so it is, I'm not going to lie, it's really hard right now because it's been by a handful of specific and a few politicians has really politicized and demonized our community for their own gain.

The CDC last month said that one out of four LGBTQ youth attempted suicide last year. That's a lot. It's taking a toll on our community. It absolutely, positively is. And I think it's hard not to be political, but what I always tell corporates, especially, is that the second you make this political, you've let them win, because this is about human issues. And this is about the safety of your employees and the safety of your customers.

Scott Rogowsky: And when you're dealing with the media like GLAAD is so involved with, can you make that point to corporations? These politicians you mentioned, they have a platform on Fox News, and they have support there. So is there an effort underway to say, "Hey, if you really are allies with our community and you want to work with GLAAD, pull your ads out of there." Are those some of the tactics that GLAAD pursues?

Sarah Kate Ellis: Absolutely. The one thing that will make my hair raise here that we haven't even addressed is the Equality Act. So the Equality Act protects our jobs, our employment, our public accommodations, credit, lending, all the things that are just assumed in this world, are not basic for the LGBTQ community, which can be denied simply for being LGBTQ. And the only thing that's protected right now at a federal level are our marriages and employment due to the Supreme Court. But that can be revisited at any given moment. And there are two judges who have specifically said that they want to relook at marriage equality.

And so there's actually a piece of legislation that is sitting with the Senate right now that we hope to see go through that would give our community long-sought protections that we don't have. So this would codify all of that within an act.

Nora Ali: To what extent—and this sort of ties into Scott's question, though: What do you find has been the most effective in swaying politicians? You talked about consulting in media and entertainment and how that impacts the societal views of the community. But what has worked so far on the politics side for GLAAD?

Sarah Kate Ellis: The best thing is storytelling, hands down. President Biden said it when he was the vice president, that he felt that Will & Grace had done more for marriage equality than anything else. And when you tell a good story and you bring people in, you move hearts and minds, and you move culture, and you create a new understanding. And so I think for us, it's been very much around storytelling.

The other is working with CEOs who are talking to members and talking to senators and have a stake in the game. And that's part of what we're talking about for Pride too, is that your internal value proposition of how you present internally needs to match how you operate externally. And that's where we see CEOs...we hope to start seeing them step up in a more profound way.

Nora Ali: Sarah Kate, you're doing storytelling not just through GLAAD, but you also literally wrote a story. You wrote a book called All Moms with your wife, Kristen Ellis-Henderson. Tell us a little bit about the book and where people can find it.

Sarah Kate Ellis: It's available wherever books are sold. And this was really a fun, fun project. And the reason that we did this project was, my wife and I, we have twin 13-year-olds. And when they were little, we couldn't find books that represented our family. It was really sad. And we found this one book called Mommy, Mama, and Me, and our kids fought over it. So we had to buy a few of them and have them on every shelf.

And when we got the opportunity to work with Little Bee Books and create the books that were missing from our lives, it was just an extraordinary gift. And this book is just a love letter to moms, but to all parents who give their kids unconditional love. And we just want young kids to see their families represented no matter what they look like. So we have Janie's two dads, and we have someone who has a nana that's raising them, because kids need to see themselves and feel included.

Nora Ali: Makes such a difference. So check it out wherever you get your books. All right, I think we'll leave things there. Sarah Kate, it was so great to have you with us on the pod. Thanks for your time.

Sarah Kate Ellis: Oh, thank you for having me.

Scott Rogowsky: Sarah Kate Ellis is the CEO of GLAAD. She's also the author of a new book for kids called All Moms. After the break, we'll speak with Ellie Parsons, who shared a very personal story with us about her transition.

Ellie Parsons: Thank you guys so much for having me on.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, thank you. Really, thank you for sharing your story with us. We really appreciate it. And we know you haven't shared it with many people publicly like this before. So, this is exciting to get the scoop. Before we get into the story in the last couple years, first tell us what is your current role at Ovia Health and what is it that you actually do as a person working in IT and software engineering? Because that's something that is still, all these years later, mind-boggling to me that people know how to "do computers," as my parent would say—

Nora Ali: You're outing yourself, Scott.

Scott Rogowsky: How do you do computers?

Ellie Parsons: My title is director of mobile engineering. Basically I lead the Android and iOS development teams at Ovia Health. We build apps for tracking fertility, pregnancy, and parenting, and helping identify when people could be fertile or if they're pregnant, if there could be complications with their pregnancy. So, I lead the team that builds the apps on both of those platforms.

Scott Rogowsky: You're the director of engineering, so obviously you have many years of experience in that field. But can you tell us a little bit about your background and growing up?

Ellie Parsons: I didn't really fit that typical narrative of a trans person and just knowing from a young age that, "Oh yeah, I'm in the wrong body," that kind of a thing. Look, I was a boy growing up, just normal kid. And one day, one of my chores was taking the trash out. And so one day I was getting the trash out of my sister's room and she had a pair of nylons in there. I'm like, "I wonder what it would be like to wear these." So I kind of put those on and like, "Oh wow, this feels good." So that kind of like started it. But it was always just kind of like a weird thing I would privately do, like wear women's clothing. But other than that, I was just like normal person, went to high school, was a depressed teen because I didn't have a girlfriend, went to college, met a bunch of friends there. Met my wife there and got married. Then had kids, just kind of that normal, and then kind of in the background, this was just kind of always there festering, maybe? I don't know.

Nora Ali: I mean, so every transition story is unique, and you had your own journey. So bring us to just the last couple of years. It sounds like a lot changed for you during the pandemic, and you were able to continue exploring your identity even further.

Ellie Parsons: Yeah. During the pandemic, we went remote. We were an in-person company, so I was always in the office every day. But once we went, remote, all meetings were just virtual and you can only see from the chest up. So it was kind of like, "Oh, I can wear a pair of leggings or something, or I could wear a dress." And then if I have to join a meeting, I can just throw a hoodie on. So it kind of allowed me to explore the studio space, if you will.

I was also still going into the office just because I had to get out of my house. I just can't stay in this place five days a week. So even though I would go into the office, there'd be no one there. I'd have the whole place to myself. I can kind of explore myself. And yeah, it was kind of like a safe space for me to find out who I was.

Scott Rogowsky: And Ovia itself seems like it was a safe workplace to have this transition. And in fact, you mentioned to one of our producers that there was another non-binary employee at Ovia Health at the time. Was that helpful in making this transition? Did you reach out to this person? What were those conversations like?

Ellie Parsons: So the non-binary person, we had the same job title just on different sides of the business, or we performed the same job role. So we would just meet every now and then anyway, just to see what work is like on the other side of the business. And then at one point I was kind of just started talking to her about like, "Hey, I think I could be trans." And they were just very supportive and just kind of explaining that there's definitely something there, and they kind of helped me to kind of figure things out. And at first, I had no idea because there's so many different labels, non-binary, trans, genderqueer, all this stuff. And I'm like, I don't know what the hell I am, so going through that whole process. So they were very helpful.

And then also just in general, Ovia, it was just a very accepting culture at the time. Our CEO was just very supportive of saying like, "Look, bring your whole self to work. Make yourself vulnerable. It's important to do that, even at work." So he kind of set the tone for the culture, and it kind of went from the top down, and I just really appreciated that culture of acceptance.

And I felt it was important to contribute to that culture. So I'm like, I guess I can talk to everybody about it. After talking to a non-binary person, there were a few other people I had close relationships with and I would talk to them as well. And then I was like, "Yeah, I think I can make a company announcement like, 'Hey, I'm trans,' and I'm pretty sure it'll be like a well-accepted thing." And yeah, it was. It was great. Everybody was super warm and embracing and accepting. So, it was the easiest place I could ever come out.

Scott Rogowsky: In the last few years, trans visibility has increased so much. There was of course that Amazon show, Transparent, very popular show. More recently, we've heard about Elliot Page's coming out story. And seeing all this happen from your perspective, was that impacting you at all? Was it making you feel more comfortable? I'm curious how the culture shift may have affected your decision to come out.

Ellie Parsons: Definitely. The changes in society played a huge part. I grew up as a kid in the '80s and '90s, and we were just starting to accept gay people back then. Forget about trans people. It's like there was no way I could ever have thought "I'm trans." Like I said, it was just kind of a weird thing that I thought I did and I never thought anything else about it. But as time has gone on, society has become much more accepting. And yeah, it's just kind of a realization that there are a lot of people that have different experiences out there. And it's not just a weird one-off kind of a thing. It seems to be more common than when I was growing up.

Nora Ali: So of course, outside forces, external entities, whether it's society or your employer, it is so important to make you feel safe in your journey. So going back to the safe space that your employer created, for any other business leaders out there, people who are starting their own companies, what tips do you have to ensure that you're creating this environment where people can be themselves?

Ellie Parsons: I think it has to start from the top, and it can't just be like the top level. It's got to trickle down. Everybody also has to see things the same way and just to foster that environment. I think it's tough because it's such a personal thing. You have people on different sides of the spectrum. So, I don't want to say "just hire accepting people," because there are people that are out there that aren't as accepting. But there's other things I think companies can do, such as providing benefits, like health benefits to cover hormone therapy, mental health therapy, surgeries, stuff like that.

Nora Ali: Can embed it in the policies, then?

Scott Rogowsky: Right. So there's the top-down element, there's the CEO, the executives. But how about fellow employees? What kind of support did you receive from them? And how can, again in an advice sense, if this is happening at other workplaces, how can colleagues of a trans person support them going through their transition? Is there anything people shouldn't do, or things they think might be helpful to say or do but really isn't, in your experience?

Ellie Parsons: I mean, just be accepting, just do your best. If somebody changes their pronouns or their name, just do their best. And if you find yourself messing up and you catch yourself, just correct yourself and move on. You don't have to make a big deal out of it. I had been at Ovia for three years and then I changed my name and I was just incredibly impressed with how everybody was able to just seamlessly transition. So, it's possible. But I also find myself making those same mistakes. There are other non-binary people at work and sometimes I make the mistake of using the wrong pronouns, and I correct myself and move on.

Scott Rogowsky: We're going to take a quick break, but more with Ellie when we return. So, we've talked about the workplace environment when someone goes through transition. How about the nuts and bolts of it, and the finances? Because from what we know, it's not always a cheap or affordable thing to do. And it certainly helps when employers and businesses can provide benefits to employees going through a transition: insurance, covering associated doctors' bills and fees.

If you're comfortable with sharing, what were some of the monetary costs, expected and unexpected, when it came to your transition?

Ellie Parsons: Sure. So like you had said earlier, I'm still pretty early in my transition. So far, it hasn't been terribly bad. My health insurance has covered hormone therapy. It's covered my mental health visits to my therapist. It looks like it should cover surgeries, top or bottom surgeries or facial surgeries. So, I'm fortunate in that regard. Something that I hadn't really expected was hair removal: It sounds kind of silly. But I had thought like, "Oh, of course, hair removal has to be covered," but no, it's not covered at all. And it's expensive and painful. So that was, I don't know, I guess the only kind of unexpected cost. And actually that is a really important thing, because if I had to pay out of pocket for these huge surgeries, it would really have me second-guessing options like that. But knowing that it's covered, it's definitely more of an option.

Nora Ali: Certainly hope the employers are listening, and know how important it is to offer these kinds of benefits and policies. So Ellie, we are having this conversation during LGBTQ Pride month, and brands, companies will decide to talk about Pride only in the month of June, and then sort of forget to be an ally and a supporter for the rest of the year, which is a little bit sad. But what do you think we should keep in mind? What do you want people to know, in just creating the most supportive environment possible, not in just the month of June, but all year round.

Ellie Parsons: Yeah. Just in general, being trans is hard. It's hard to come out and say this is who you really are. So just accepting us, people like myself, for who we are is a huge thing. I can't even imagine how hard it must be for a kid who's trans. It's got to be so much harder. I can just remember when I was growing up, just kids getting bullied for whatever reason. So, I just can't imagine.

When policymakers make these laws that go against helping the kids, what are you doing? Our lives are hard enough as it is. And as far as corporations go, don't come out and say, "Oh yeah, we love Pride and LGBTQ people," but then don't go and donate to anti-trans policymakers or PACs like that.

Nora Ali: I mean, even if you sharing your story on this podcast helps one listener be more comfortable in discovering themselves, then that's a win. So we appreciate that, Ellie.

Scott Rogowsky: Yes. Thank you for sharing your story, Ellie. And now to switch gears just so slightly, time for me to share some questions with you. It's time for Quizness Casual, the Business Casual quiz. With Ellie Parsons, our guest today, and of course, Nora, you will be teammates with Ellie here as I ask my questions all about Boston sports, because, Ellie, you've lived in the great state of Rhode Island, the ocean state, for over 25 years, and you've mentioned you're a big Boston sports fan. It's baseball season. Let's specifically talk about the Boston Red Sox. Go Sox!

Nora Ali: Woo-hoo.

Scott Rogowsky: But here we go for qumero numero uno. Which historic event overshadowed the Red Sox opening day in 1912 at their, at the time, brand new Fenway Park, and their 7–6 victory over the New York Highlanders, later called the Yankees? So what else happened on that day in 1912 opening day at Fenway? Was it the assassination of President William McKinley, the Hindenburg Airship disaster, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, which set off World War I, or the sinking of the Titanic?

Nora Ali: Oh, my gosh. This is tough.

Scott Rogowsky: This is more about just a general history question.

Nora Ali: This is history. Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: Thinking about 1912.

Ellie Parsons: I was thinking, was it Franz Ferdinand, the assassination? That's kind of what I was thinking.

Nora Ali: The only thing I can think of is the Titanic. That sounds like the right timeframe for the Titanic to have sunk.

Ellie Parsons: Yeah, no clue. I was actually thinking like before you gave us options, I was thinking, was it that the Boston molasses factory explosion or something? I don't know if you guys remember that, but that was a thing.

Nora Ali: That sounds incredible.

Scott Rogowsky: That might be too regional. We were going broader with it. So you're thinking about the sinking? Is that what you're thinking?

Nora Ali: Thinking about the sinking is what we're thinking, yes.

Scott Rogowsky: That might be a good way to think, because on April 20th, 1912, the same day Fenway Park opened, that news didn't even make Boston's front pages. It was the ocean liner Titanic's tragic sinking on its maiden voyage a few days earlier that still ruled the news. Yes. So that is what happened there, the sinking of the Titanic. Congrats. You got that right. One for one, batting a thousand.

Here comes Q2. Ready for this one? This is a little more recent. This is more recent in your lifetime, in our lifetime, okay? On October 27th, 2004, the Boston Red Sox won their first championship in 86 years, breaking the “Curse of the Bambino” that had plagued them since 1918. Which team did the Sox defeat in that World Series?

Ellie Parsons: St. Louis Cardinals.

Scott Rogowsky: See, didn't even need the multiple choice, didn't even need the options. Nora might be scratching her head, but Ellie got it without the options. St. Louis Cardinals. It was a sweep, a 4–nothing series sweep. We'll never forget that, will you, Ellie?

Ellie Parsons: No. What a crazy...because we were still trying to get over the Yankees series. They beat the Yankees in seven, and we were like, "When is game eight?" It just felt like every night was just exhausting.

Scott Rogowsky: Exactly. Yeah. The ALCS was really the World Series that year. People kind of forget that the Sox just went in and swept the Cardinals. All right, final question. We're two for two. We're cruising here. What were the Boston Red Sox originally called when the franchise was founded back in 1901, a charter member of the American League? Was it the Boston Blue Sox, the Boston Americans, the Boston Independence, or the Boston Continentals?

Ellie Parsons: Blue Sox is just like crazy enough to maybe be true. Maybe he's trying to fool us, but maybe it really was it.

Nora Ali: What's the White Sox origin? Why this obsession with Sox in baseball? I don't understand.

Scott Rogowsky: Blue Sox, Americans, Independence, or Continentals?

Ellie Parsons: I'm thinking maybe Americans. That doesn't seem good.

Nora Ali: Can we just go with it?

Ellie Parsons: YOLO.

Nora Ali: YOLO. Americans. Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: Americans, F yeah. Yeah. Yes! You got it right.

Ellie Parsons: Amazing.

Scott Rogowsky: One of the eight charter members of the American League, the Boston Americans.

Nora Ali: Wow. How unoriginal.

Scott Rogowsky: Before they adapted to the Red Sox, which was based off the red stockings, because of the red stockings that they wore. And the Cincinnati Reds, they were called the Reds because they had red stockings. It's just, I don't know, baseball, not that imaginative, I guess. But Ellie you nailed it, three for three. You're batting better than Raffy Devers over here. We got Carl Yastrzemski over here. Triple crown winner Ellie Parsons. Thank you so much for joining us today. And congrats on the quiz. Honestly, that was very impressive.

Nora Ali: Yeah. Thanks, Ellie.

Ellie Parsons: Thanks. Can I just give like a little shout out to a few people who were very supportive during my transition?

Nora Ali: Please.

Ellie Parsons: Just a few people that I had worked with, and friends that were just the few people I first started talking to. Just Lexi, Mattie, Seamus, Nicole and Melody, they were all just very supportive and I'm very grateful that we crossed paths when we did, and they were part of my life. So, thank you to all of them.

Nora Ali: We love to hear it. Thanks again, Ellie.

Scott Rogowsky: Another good one brought to you by Business Casual. But we want to hear what you thought, because Nora and I thought it was pretty dang good ourselves. So, please hit us up. Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com, or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod. That's B-I-ZCasualPod, with your questions, comments, or concerns.

Nora Ali: You can also feel free to leave us a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring. Leave us a voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from, so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual is proudly produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Markus. Sarah Singer is our VP of multimedia. Kate Brandt is our fact checker. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you go for that ear candy. We love it if you give us a great rating and a review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.