Out in the Workplace

J0409136_2I remember the day I first heard about this young 15-year-old boy. A story, a boy, a feeling at the pit of my stomach that made me remember the hurtful obstacles of rejection, the daily struggles with fear, and the lives that have been lost as a result. In this week’s issue of the Advocate, you’ll find the cover depicts a pixilated picture of Lawrence King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School, in Oxnard, Calif., who was shot in his English class because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. King’s story reminds us that though it has been a decade since Matthew Shepard, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Coming out and truly expressing yourself is one of the most personal experiences of anyone’s life. It is the pivotal turning point toward self-acceptance where excitement meets anxiety, and liberation meets oppression. However, coming out is not just a once in a lifetime experience, it occurs over, and over, and over again. Each time these feelings of uncertainty and anticipation surface. In the workplace, coming out can lead to additional concerns of marginalization.

Many corporations have worked diligently to foster inclusive and diverse work environments. What exist in our hetero-normative society is a lack of understanding which cultivates negative attitudes. In Echelon’s December issue, Gail Rekers, Ph.D., director of Out & Equal Workplace Institute, describes the difference between heterosexism as the “belief that the only normal sexual orientation is heterosexual and that everyone is really heterosexual,” while “homophobia is the belief that anyone who is not heterosexual is either crazy or sinful.” It is homophobic behavior, claims Rekers, that “creates a toxic environment for LGBT employees and their allies.” To develop and encourage inclusive workplaces, companies are working to effect change through workplace equality tactics. Some are partnering with diversity non-profit organizations, both local and national. For example, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national organization committed to LGBT issues in the workplace.

There is a lot of work to be done — yes, but there have also been milestone achievements by companies who are engaged in and committed to the LGBT community. For businesses, inclusive environments that both attract and retain LGBT employees are based on commitment to fulfill the company’s mission and financial profitability. Through internal initiatives that build a community, companies reap both the organizational and operational successes.

Ben’s blog post from last June highlights companies’ commitment to fostering inclusive environments. In it, he included the following quote from Mark McLane, global director of diversity and inclusion at Whirlpool: “It’s important that everyone feels they can bring their entire self to work. It is your choice to be self-identified or not at Whirlpool. It’s about creating a culture where it’s OK and safe to self-identify: it’s not going to jeopardize your career path in any way.”

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

We need to remember that teamwork is allowing people to be comfortable and be themselves while at work. Our commonness stems in our common goals, our vision to positively influence and shape our world. Inclusiveness and collaboration build successful companies. Companies that embrace and value employees for their whole being, by allowing them to bring their entire self to work each day, build a future that impacts both business and our social climate. What are your thoughts?

J0409136_2I remember the day I first heard about this young 15-year-old boy. A story, a boy, a feeling at the pit of my stomach that made me remember the hurtful obstacles of rejection, the daily struggles with fear, and the lives that have been lost as a result. In this week’s issue of the Advocate, you’ll find the cover depicts a pixilated picture of Lawrence King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School, in Oxnard, Calif., who was shot in his English class because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. King’s story reminds us that though it has been a decade since Matthew Shepard, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Coming out and truly expressing yourself is one of the most personal experiences of anyone’s life. It is the pivotal turning point toward self-acceptance where excitement meets anxiety, and liberation meets oppression. However, coming out is not just a once in a lifetime experience, it occurs over, and over, and over again. Each time these feelings of uncertainty and anticipation surface. In the workplace, coming out can lead to additional concerns of marginalization.

Many corporations have worked diligently to foster inclusive and diverse work environments. What exist in our hetero-normative society is a lack of understanding which cultivates negative attitudes. In Echelon’s December issue, Gail Rekers, Ph.D., director of Out & Equal Workplace Institute, describes the difference between heterosexism as the “belief that the only normal sexual orientation is heterosexual and that everyone is really heterosexual,” while “homophobia is the belief that anyone who is not heterosexual is either crazy or sinful.” It is homophobic behavior, claims Rekers, that “creates a toxic environment for LGBT employees and their allies.” To develop and encourage inclusive workplaces, companies are working to effect change through workplace equality tactics. Some are partnering with diversity non-profit organizations, both local and national. For example, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is a national organization committed to LGBT issues in the workplace.

There is a lot of work to be done — yes, but there have also been milestone achievements by companies who are engaged in and committed to the LGBT community. For businesses, inclusive environments that both attract and retain LGBT employees are based on commitment to fulfill the company’s mission and financial profitability. Through internal initiatives that build a community, companies reap both the organizational and operational successes.

Ben’s blog post from last June highlights companies’ commitment to fostering inclusive environments. In it, he included the following quote from Mark McLane, global director of diversity and inclusion at Whirlpool: “It’s important that everyone feels they can bring their entire self to work. It is your choice to be self-identified or not at Whirlpool. It’s about creating a culture where it’s OK and safe to self-identify: it’s not going to jeopardize your career path in any way.”

Andrew Carnegie once said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”

We need to remember that teamwork is allowing people to be comfortable and be themselves while at work. Our commonness stems in our common goals, our vision to positively influence and shape our world. Inclusiveness and collaboration build successful companies. Companies that embrace and value employees for their whole being, by allowing them to bring their entire self to work each day, build a future that impacts both business and our social climate. What are your thoughts?

Advertisements

Posted on March 31, 2008, in Corp Comms, Leadership/Management, LGBT Communications. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s