One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘workplace

A businessman dressed in a suit and tie rips open his shirt, revealing a rainbow shirt underneath.

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In all fifty states, same-sex marriage has been made legal. But in 28 of those states, mentioning your fiance’s name when asking for time off for your honeymoon can get you fired, because in more than half the country it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace. And in the midst of the current conservative backlash against gay rights, it’s important to take grassroots stands in the workplace.

Here are a few suggestions for what you, your coworkers, and your boss can do to make acceptance one of your core values.

1. The big one: benefits. This is your employer putting their money where their mouth is. Make sure your coworkers with same-sex partners and non-traditional families have the same access to health care that you do, including gender-blind parental options, allowances for adoption and surrogacy, and gender-affirmation and transition-related care.

2. Help support resource groups for LGBT employees, particularly if you are in a state that still supports discrimination. They need a place where they can discuss the weight of those issues.

3. Ask what your company is doing to support LGBT people outside their walls. Do they give preference to relationships with other inclusive companies? Devote any resources to outreach? Does your leadership do any communicating on this issue, or is it just a line for show in the company’s values posters?

4. Track what’s actually happening. Does the data indicate that your goals for diversity are being met? This doesn’t mean hiring to a quota–if you’re truly inclusive, that should be entirely unnecessary. If you can’t have this data, ask your HR why.

5. Speak up when you hear ugly speech at work. It only takes one bigot to make LGBT employees feel unwelcome and under fire if everyone else lets their behavior go unremarked. Report what you hear, and hold your employer responsible for responding.

There are many, many more tactics to take to make your job a shelter for those who still need it. Most of these tactics can be applied to any under-served population, and will make you a role model for other employers in your community.

An image of a dark room. A single door is open and rainbow colors are spilling out of it. The words, "coming out" are written in the top left of the image.

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Even in 2016, with all the advances that the LGBTQ+ community has made, it can still be hard to come out, particularly when it comes to one’s professional life. But the question of whether or not to come out at work is one that every member of the community has to address at some point, and there are benefits to doing so, just as there are downsides.

According to J.D. Schramm, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, being out has been a boon in his professional life. It has allowed him to “lead out loud” as he calls it, namely to be authentic with those around him. Especially for people in leadership positions, coming out can help to put others at ease, as some employees and co-workers may feel that they’ve been mislead if they find out that one is a member of the LGBTQ+ community through some other channel.

While coming out can be a way to get out in front of a rumor, it also signals that one is comfortable with themselves and in their professional life. Of course, not everybody has reached that point yet, and there are a lot of factors to consider before coming out. Some people can be out in their personal but not professional lives, though this is becoming increasingly difficult as the lines between those lives blur thanks to social media and an increasing tendency of companies to “spy” on employees’ Facebook profiles.

While coming out can help one cement their position as a leader, it can also have negative consequences. Not every industry, workplace, or community is welcoming to LGBTQ+ people, and the environment in which one works is perhaps the most important consideration when deciding whether or not to come out. If nothing else, it may require more thought as to how, and when, to come out.