Five things your LGBTQ co-workers want you to know
As a leadership development learning program manager, Julie King regularly facilitates courses where she shares several personal anecdotes as real-world examples of how the training can enhance communication in professional and personal settings.
But when she read one participant’s negative feedback following a class several years ago, she questioned whether her stories were too personal.
“Leave out the gay agenda,” the comment stated.
King, who has been with her wife for 11 years, ultimately decided to continue sharing her story, not only to continue being her authentic self but also to make Advocate Aurora Health a more inclusive workplace.
“If I believe in having psychological safety at work – and I do – I need to keep talking about it,” King said. “If I show leaders it’s OK for everyone to show up as their full, authentic selves, hopefully they will model that behavior to team members. And that will trickle down to our patients, who know they will be embraced at Advocate Aurora Health. Representation matters.”
With that in mind, King offers five tips for anyone seeking to grow in their understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion during Pride Month and beyond:
- Seek to understand with curiosity. “If you have questions, it’s OK to ask them, if you’re coming from a place of genuinely wanting to learn about differences,” King said. Phrases like “help me understand” create a safe space for open and honest dialogue.
- Celebrate differences and reject the tendency to label people. “Not everyone in the LGBTQ community is the same,” she said. “Just because I identify as a lesbian, someone else married to a woman might identify as queer or bisexual, or something else entirely.”
- Don’t make assumptions that default to heteronormativity, or the belief that heterosexuality is the norm. For example, when you notice someone wearing a wedding ring, don’t assume they are married to a person of the opposite sex.
- Choose words and phrases that reflect inclusivity. Ask questions like “tell me about your family” rather than “do you and your wife/husband have kids?”
- Respect all people. This might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating. “My utopia is that people are people and love is love,” King said. “We are all more alike than different.”
About the Author
Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.