Posted by: outandequal | January 24, 2013

Building Bridges Toward Cultural Competency with Training & Professional Development

By Brianna Nelson | As a relatively new member of the Out & Equal team, I’m participating in the most recent installment of Out & Equal University’s online Building Bridges course – lead by Director of Training & Professional Development, Pat Baillie, and Senior Program Associate, Q Wilson.

The Building Bridges Toward LGBT Diversity series is a three-part training course, and targets senior executives, managers, human resources and diversity professionals, customer service representatives and the general employee population – including those working in social services, faith communities, and governmental and educational settings. The training fosters increased awareness to develop a healthier and safer workplace where all employees are engaged in the mission of the organization, increasing the level of comfort for all and improving communication between LGBT and straight employees and the customers they serve. Plus, the Building Bridges training plays an integral role in Out & Equal Workplace Advocates’ founding history and the development of our mission.

Going into my first Building Bridges training two Tuesdays ago, my personal expectations for the session weren’t well-defined, but I figured that I would most likely be hearing a condensed version of what I’ve come to learn more sporadically throughout my experience, not only as an individual who places themselves under the LGBT umbrella, but also, as someone involved in queer-activism since starting their high school GSA (not so many years ago, but enough years ago).

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First poll: Do you know someone who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?

However, I found the highly interactive experience of ‘Building Bridges: Part One’ beneficial beyond introducing LGBT history, current issues, and terms and language. Pat and Q have done a great job incorporating participant polls and exercises throughout the entirety of the introductory presentation, as well as a number of questions that open up the phone line to everyone. I’m especially grateful for this aspect of the session, as it allows participants 1) to practice discussing, sharing, and applying the topics covered in the training and 2) to hear many perspectives from individuals experiencing a myriad of workplace climates that differ based on job sector, level, and geographic location, as well as how the individual identifies.

In ‘Part Two’ of the course, we looked more closely at the importance of LGBT equality in the workplace for all employees. Not only does the presentation work to help participants understand the significance of gaining equal benefits and protections in the workplace, but it also begins to show participants how they can successfully communicate these points back to their employers and employees. I’m looking forward to discussing the role of allies in moving toward workplace equality and developing specific action plans next week in ‘Building Bridges: Part Three’.

Though the live version of Building Bridges is only offered in January, the course is recorded annually and available throughout the year. Building Bridges is also part of the Core Course Bundle, which includes three additional Out & Equal University trainings. You can access a sample recording of Building Bridges online; this free, recorded session was held with Central Iowa’s Society for Human Resource Management.

Keep in mind that if you’d like to participate in Train the Trainer (like myself!), Building Bridges is a pre-requisite. So, start your Building Bridges course sooner rather than later.

You can read more about Out & Equal University training online.

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