Equality Starts With Me

A very important part of diversity and inclusion starts with allies.
06/28/2017 12:47 am ET Updated Jun 28, 2017

Diversity and Inclusion are key values to operating a successful business or building strong professional relationships.

Diversity and inclusion come in many forms both personally and professionally. This month we are wrapping up Pride month across the world, primarily recognizing and supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and Ally (LGBTQA) community. “Equality Starts With Me,” not only applies to individuals, it applies to companies and organizations both large and small. We all play a role in promoting diversity and the equal and fair treatment of our fellow human beings. We all can learn a lot and find respect in the cultures in which we live and work.

Although we take this month to appreciate and respect the LGBTQA community and draw awareness to the issues we face in our personal and professional lives, it is also important to carry this awareness throughout our daily lives to support not only equality in our everyday lives, but diversity in our thinking broadly. Many successful companies have now realized the importance of acknowledging and building stronger values around diversity and inclusion into their business operations. Although not everyone has it perfected, the continuing exploration and public acknowledgement of diversity and inclusion in the workplace have shown major results in how companies are promoting and mentoring minorities.

A very important part of diversity and inclusion starts with allies. You do not have to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, or queer to support equality. Allies, friends and family play important roles in the lives of all of us. Often allies serve as the biggest advocates for change by supporting what is right and what is fair. It is important for all of us to continue to educate ourselves not only on LGBTQA issues, but on all issues spanning diversity and inclusion and to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. One good way to do this within the workplace is to join Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs typically advocate to company management on issues important to minority populations in the workplace. Another way is to join PFLAG (Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (more information below).

There are many resources for continuing to build strong workplace programs and processes around equality. These resources are not exclusive to large companies, but are also available to individuals. I’ve highlighted a few resources below to consider contacting if you’re interested in learning more about equality in the workplace and/or getting involved publicly to support equal rights for all.

The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. The HRC and the HRC Foundation together serve as America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality. By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Another key benefit the HRC offers to companies is the Corporate Equality Index which rates workplaces on LGBT equality.

There’s a large misconception that the NCLR is strictly focused on Lesbian issues; however, I like to think of them as the LGBTQ law firm. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) has been advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, legislation, policy, and public education since it was founded in 1977. NCLR’s programs focus on employment, immigration, youth, elder law, transgender law, sports, marriage, relationship protections, reproductive rights, and family law create safer homes, safer jobs, and a more just world. Each year, NCLR shapes the legal landscape for all LGBT people and families across the nation through its precedent- setting litigation, legislation, policy, and public education.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is the world’s premier non profit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workplace equality. Out & Equal partners with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide executive leadership development, comprehensive training and consultation, and professional networking opportunities that build inclusive and welcoming work environments. Since 1996, they have worked with executives, human resources professionals, Employee Resource Groups and individuals to provide leadership and professional development, education, and research to create workplaces free of discrimination.

Out & Equal hosts the annual Workplace Summit where employees and experts from around the world gather to share strategies and best practices to create workplace equality inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.

Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays is a national nonprofit grassroots organization which promotes the wellbeing of lesbian and gay people, their families, and friends through education and advocacy. Online information on Project Open Mind offers hate crime and teen suicide statistics. The site also offers a directory of chapters across the country. PFLAG is a particularly useful resource for parents of students who are coming out in college or for faculty and staff when one of their children comes out to them. There are more than 250,000 members and supporters in over 500 chapters throughout the United States.

Equality Starts With Me
Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash
Equality Starts With Me
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