Out and proud.
By J. Kevin Jones, Jr., Deputy Director, Out & Equal June 16, 2011 04:54 PM
In many places throughout the United States and around the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities and their friends and families celebrate June as Pride Month. Cities plan large and festive parades. Governments make proclamations. Corporations plan employee events that raise awareness of LGBT issues and demonstrate their commitment to having inclusive and respectful workplaces. A tremendous amount of energy and resources go into making the LGBT community visible. During June, the LGBT community, with support of our allies, makes a point of being out and proud.
The spike in visible support is energizing--and welcome. While the higher profile of LGBT issues does sometimes result in a corresponding increase in violence against members of our community, the focus on LGBT issues is critical to achieving true inclusion where we live and work. For that reason, it is important to remember during the celebrations in June, that being out is not simply a once-a-year event.
The workplace presents its own minefield. If I am LGBT, what information do I choose to share with a colleague who inquires about my family? How do I respond as an ally if I hear a vendor or valued client use humor that is at the expense of someone LGBT? If in a leadership role at a corporation, when do I choose to use my resources to ensure that my LGBT employees are treated equally? How do I today convey to my team that the company values and respects LGBT employees?
Citi is an important role model. It is among an increasing number of companies implementing industry-leading policies that include LGBT employees and their families, often earning them high scores on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index. Translating those policies into a corporate culture that reflects these values fully is a critical parallel effort. Celebrating Pride Month in June is one step, but steady communication of support for the LGBT community is what will make a difference.
Prominent placement of LGBT support in Citi's Diversity Annual Report, along with Citi's active employee Pride Networks and high-level sponsorship of HRC, my own organization--Out & Equal--and other LGBT groups by Citi Community Development, all send the message that Citi is a corporation that supports being out and proud--in June and all year round.
Founded by Executive Director Selisse Berry, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates (commonly known as "Out & Equal") is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. Out & Equal is committed to ending employment discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees.