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By Melanie Glennon
What are the major barriers in the workplace today for LGBT individuals?
A: The primary barrier is being able to bring your whole self to work. LGBT individuals have no workplace protections at the federal level or in most states, which means they can be fired simply for loving someone of the same sex. While corporate America has taken the lead to protect these workers, LGBT employees must navigate vast disparities in policies, benefits and work environments, which limit a company’s ability to attract and retain the best talent.
What are the opportunities in the workplace today for the LGBT community?
A: The best opportunity is to join the company’s LGBT employee resource group. These networks provide a forum for community building and professional development. But more importantly, if the workplace is supportive, it facilitates LGBT employees to “come out of the closet.” This year’s ERG theme is “be yourself, be your best.” By being honest with your coworkers, you build stronger relationships and truly unlock your full productivity. In the process, you become a role model to help others.
How has your organization worked to promote the education of LGBT issues in order to avoid homophobia and heterosexism?
A: LGBT education is a unique part of our ERG’s charter. We have a wide range of curriculum, including Ally Workshops, GLBT 101 & 201, and Transgender 101, which has received tremendous reception. We’re not pushing these opportunities up to leadership; rather they’re helping our ERG take them across the company.