Posted by: outandequal | March 8, 2012

Building LGBT Diversity

J. Kevin Jones, Deputy Director

by Kevin Jones | The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is incredibly diverse – significantly richer than the LGBT acronym could possibly suggest, even if you were to limit your view to those individuals who readily identify as “LGBT”. We are everywhere and we are everyone.  But a repeated challenge that we face in planning the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit is determining what we can do to include and attract more attendees from those diverse communities so that their voices are fully represented in the Summit experience. We think carefully – with the support of tremendous volunteers who serve on our advisory committees – to ensure that our speakers, entertainer, and workshop topics reflect issues about and relevant to a broad and diverse audience. But, the experience of the Workplace Summit remains disproportionately white and male and gay.

And so I continue to ask myself (and anyone else who cares to listen), why is this the case, and what can we do about it?  How can we be more inclusive in a way that is apparent in who participates in our events?

One immediate thought is this – Summit attendees largely reflect the demographics of the corporate workforce –most specifically, the visible LGBT employee leaders at work. And in my experience with corporate employee groups, the visible richness of our community does not show up there in most cases. With some notable exceptions, they also tend be disproportionately white and gay and male…and face the same challenges in engaging more diverse members of the community as active participants in their employee network.

So, it strikes me that we have an opportunity to establish best practices and create resources focused specifically on helping LGBT employee resource groups attract and engage members who represent the diverse aspects of our community, while making the addition of their voices a key priority for Out & Equal programs. With support from our People of Color, Transgender, and Bisexual Advisory Committees, my hope is to create a conversation that helps us and our constituents become more inclusive and benefit from the diversity that is out there. Please feel free to let me know if you would like to help!

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