This data architect reflects on LGBT workplace equality

This blog is all about data, data modeling and data architects. I have stayed on topic over the years. Today I am going to stretch that envelope. I am going to talk about workplace equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Out-Equal-Logo-PNG-LargeThis week I was fortunate to represent my employer at Out and Equal’s Workplace Summit in Dallas. Out and Equal is a non-profit organization that advocates for safe and supportive workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Their annual summit brings together over 3,000 LGBT employees, educators, advocates and their allies to learn, share and inspire each other.

I happen to be a gay man who is a data architect. It is authentically who I am. I do not hide my sexual identity. I can pretty much say that my career has not been hindered by my sexuality. Sadly, that is not the case for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. Workplace discrimination can adversely affect the work and career of a data professional.

The Human Rights Campaign actively advocates for the wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people including protections in the workplace. Their workplace report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion”, shared some very telling statistics illustrating the need to make our workplaces welcoming to LGBT people.

  • 10% of LGBT workers report having left a job specifically because they were made to feel unwelcome for simply being who they are.
  • 62% of LGBT workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people from their coworkers.
  • 35% of LGBT workers feel compelled to lie about their personal lives while at work.
  • 20% of LGBT workers feel exhausted from expending time and energy hiding their identities.
  • 33% of LGBT workers have felt distracted from the job at hand due to negative workplace environments.

The above statistics demonstrate how the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender data professional’s work and career can be impacted by working in an unwelcoming environment. The HRC report found that employee engagement suffered by up to 30% due to unwelcoming environments. My plea to my fellow data architects is to work on making your workplaces welcoming to all people.

A critical piece of making your workplace welcoming to fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees is to become an ally to the LGBT community. Allies have the power to lessen the numbers on the HRC statistics through their support and voices. Here are a four ways you can be that advocate for LGBT people in your workplace.

  1. Be visible. Let LGBT people know you support them. Something as simple as a rainbow flag or HRC sticker on your cubicle wall sends a powerful message. Include the celebrations and times with LGBT friends, acquaintances and family members in conversations with coworkers.
  2. Be informed. Spend some time Googling LGBT workplace issues. Talk to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. Learn what issues they face. Learn how your workplace supports or does not support your fellow LGBT coworkers.
  3. Speak up. Silence can speak louder than words. Voice your disapproval of gay jokes and disparaging remarks about LGBT people. Your voice educates coworkers on being more conscious of the lives of LGBT coworkers.
  4. Support LGBT equality. Your employer may have a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employee resource group (ERG), often known as a business resource group (BRG). Allies make up a large percentage of these groups’ membership. This is an excellent place to show support and get to know LGBT coworkers better.

Often we enjoy privileges of which we are not aware. These privileges are not limited to the white straight male. As a gay male, I enjoy privileges that a transgender, female or disabled coworker may not enjoy. My workplace equality takeaway for you as one of my readers is this. Each of us must work diligently to make our workplace safe, welcoming and supportive of all people of all sexes, races, disabilities, sexual orientations and sexual identities.

Resources:

Be authentic. Be sincere. Be Yourself.

Tom Bilcze

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