Out & Equal’s 2022 Summit quite simply blew me away.
Never before have I attended a conference where every attendee was so deeply engaged and focused on achieving the same mission. Every session focused on specific actions to take in the workplace to support LGBTQI+ employees — and the stories told by those who benefitted from that support were incredibly powerful.
Here are the key takeaways that I hope will benefit you and your organization:
Senior leaders need to speak up in support of the LGBTQI+ community.
Countless senior executives spoke at Out & Equal – as members, allies, parents and friends of the LGBTQI+ community. They came from companies across industries, including Dow Chemical, Bank of America, Black Rock, Uber, JPMorgan Chase, Cardinal Health and Chevron. Their voices hold great power because they signal that LGBTQ+ rights are core to their business and to every employee feeling they can belong.
Imagine, for example, that you have an employee who has transitioned. Think of all the systems that need to be updated to ensure that employee is identified correctly, by name, gender and pronoun. Now think of all the conversations that have to happen to make that happen, and what that puts the employee through to explain their transition over and over, many times to people who don’t have guidance on how to respond to that employee in a supportive way. Creating a toolkit takes the burden off that employee by proactively pulling together a checklist of what needs to be done, training everyone on the process, and providing resources on how to be supportive in your language and actions in order to create a safe space.
Create ERGs and other support groups for parents and family members of LGBTQIA+ children.
This group can feel very isolated. Not only are they trying to support another loved one, they may be doing so without being familiar with what would be most helpful to that person. They also likely will be navigating a need for additional mental health resources for themselves and their loved one, and potentially other medical care. An ERG can provide much needed support and become a great resource for determining expanded benefits and other needs.
Inclusive benefits offerings are vital.
Review your benefits offerings with an eye toward what same sex couples, life partners transitioning employees and intersex employees across the full employee lifecycle. Recognize that not providing options for gender identity other than male and female, and pronouns other than he/him and she/her negates the identity of a whole group of your employees.
Many LBGTQI+ community members navigate major intersectional identity challenges.
Be sure to connect across ERG groups to help provide adequate support and tap into voices across communities.
Recognize that you may have had some employees change their gender identify or transition while working remotely.
These employees will need your support coming out at work when you have employees return to the office. If you have a mandate to return by a certain date, this will put added pressure on that employee, particularly if their transition is not complete.
To access Out & Equal’s toolkits and other resources, including how to assess LGBTQI+ inclusion in your workplace, guidance on pronoun usage, and PRIDE celebration guides, click below.
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