The Illinois Diversity Council ( ILDC ) held its first-ever LGBTQIA roundtable event"Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging: Advocating for LGBTQIA Equality in the Workplace"June 14 at the LGBT Chamber of Commerce Illinois offices in Lake View.
ILDC began in 2012 to foster learning opportunities around diversity with the mission to, according to its website, "enhance appreciation for and understanding of the value of diversity and inclusion. We will achieve success through the efforts and activities which: advance corporate leadership education/awareness of the varied dimensions of diversity, commit leaders to discuss issues and challenge attitudes and promote organizational changes that support diversity and promote outreach efforts to our youth that inspire mutual respect and understanding."
Kivvit Principal and Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Board of Governors member and Chicago Corporate Chair ( and straight ally ) Anne Klingeberger's keynote address focused on HRC's Corporate Equality Index ( CEI ). She noted that despite what is occurring politically around LGBTQ rights nationally, workplace equality is on the rise. Klingeberger said embracing LGBTQ equality in the workplace drives talent and retention and people look to the CEI when they are considering where to work. She explained that the CEI is in its 16th year and over time the criteria to achieve a 100 percent score has expanded to include more factors such as comprehensive healthcare coverage for transgender employees and increased community engagement. Klingeberger said in 2017 there were 609 businesses that got a 100 percent compared to 2002 when there were 13.
Following Klingeberger's remarks, Northern Trust Vice President and Senior Technical Consultant Denise Bowker spoke about her experience as a transgender person in the workplace. She explained that in order for LGBT employees to feel comfortable at work the support has to come from the top which is the case at Northern Trust. Bowker said there is a ten page document called "How to transition at Northern Trust." She explained this document was created because the company made mistakes in the past and did not want that to happen again. Bowker noted that everyone at work has been great throughout her transition process. She said one way companies can do better is by hiring more transgender employees and a great place to find talented people is at the LGBTQ job fair at the Center on Halsted.
The event also featured a panel discussion, "Coaching to Create LGBTQIA Equality in the Workplace," which LGBT Chamber of Commerce of Illinois Director Jerome' Holston moderated.
The Juniper Center Founder/Owner/Director Dr. Margo Jacquot talked primarily about intersectionality and pronouns. She said thatas a cisgender, white, lesbian mom and wifeshe crosses multiple intersections and can only speak about specific identities since she has many privileges due how she identifies. Jacquot explained that, as a mom of two adopted mixed-race kids, people view her differently when they go out into the world together and this has been a learning experience for her. She noted her kids have more challenging intersections than she does.
Saying that Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term "intersectionality," Jacquot spoke about the importance of knowing people's intersectional identities and how those intersections can sometimes create barriers to entry for individuals. She said everyone wants to be respected and the best way to do that is to use people's chosen name and the correct pronouns and if one makes a mistake apologize and move on.
About Face Theatre Individual and Major Giving and Special Events Director Dylan Torpov ( who uses they/them pronouns ) spoke about why words matter. They said they have always been more comfortable with women and gender nonconforming people due to how they identify themselves. Torpov explained that gender is a language. They noted that it is up to individuals to use the correct language to convey the message they want to get across. Torpov explained that it is important to be open to new information and helpful when others have questions.
The Juniper Center Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Mo Deslande's ( who uses they/them pronouns ) remarks centered on unconscious bias and the way microagressions affect people's lives. They said this includes how people of color, LGBTQ people and other marginalized groups are treated by the rest of the population in small and large ways. Deslande noted that they can only speak to their non-binary microaggressions and when they occur.
Both CDW Inclusion Senior Manager Tamara Fletcher and United Airlines Applications Performance Managament Director Bill Hineline's talks focused on the business case for including LGBTQIA practices and procedures for employees and consumers respectively.
Fletcher explained that because she grew up in the church so she lived a double life and this includes staying closeted at work for four years. When she realized this was a difficult way to live she decided to come out and at the same time CDW was starting their LGBTQ employee group that she quickly joined. She said coming out was pivotal to the way she lives her life because she has become more engaged with the world. Fletcher noted that being out has also helped her professionally.
Hineline ( who is also the vice president of the LGBTQ business resource group EQUAL ) noted how important real inclusion and diversity is to United and that includes the LGBTQ community. He said that in his role at EQUAL, he works to make United a better place to work for its LGBTQ community. Hineline explained that having BRG's for specific employee groups is one of the ways companies can show consumers that they are committed to inclusion and diversity but they have to do more. He said that does not mean just being visible during Pride month.
Ahead of the presentations; ILDC Membership Co-Chair and Dream Town Realty Residential Consultant Sophie Todd, ILDC Board of Directors Vice President and Greeley and Hansen Human Resources Director Bethany Florek and Holston spoke about the work the ILDC and chamber do for the LGBTQIA community respectively.
Equality Institute CEO Bernadette Smith outlined a road map on best practices while ILDC Activities and Events Co-Chair HUB International Talent Acquisition Program Manager Charles Lilly closed the event.
For more on the HRC CEI, visit https://www.hrc.org/campaigns/corporate-equality-index.
See Illinoisdiversitycouncil.org for more information .