Diversity Guides

Brian McNaught's Gay & Transgender Issues in the Workplace Blog

Archive for the ‘Workplace Scenarios’ Category

What Makes a Woman a Female?

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Like the Star Trek Voyager, corporations today are going where no man, woman, or transgender person has gone before. They are exploring how to understand, value, and include the diversity represented on the gender continuum. Many companies pioneered by forging the right non-discrimination statements covering gender identity and expression, but as might be expected, few of them realize the full scope and implications of their policies. Many Human Resource, and Diversity and Inclusion, professionals are still uncomfortable explaining to others the enormous difference between gender identity and gender expression, and most corporate executives appreciate being able to just say "LGBT" rather than the word "transgender". Despite this current lack of complete understanding and comfort, companies around the globe are light years ahead of the rest of society in charting this new territory. Read more…

Captain Bible & Your Safety

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

You are on a plane heading home after a tiring business trip. You have buckled your seat belt in 9C as directed, turned off all of your electronic equipment, and stored your belongings beneath your seat. You smiled at the flight attendant as you listened to the safety instructions you have heard dozens of times before. You have even glanced at the safety instruction card in the seat pocket. What more can you do?

Unbeknownst to you, up on the flight deck, the pilot is heavily distracted as he goes through his safety check. He has just asked his female co-pilot if she is married and she has replied, "Yes, her name is Sharon." He assumes that the male flight attendants are homosexuals but he does not have to have any contact with them. They can’t stay for long in his sacred workspace. But the person sitting close to him for the next three hours is a lesbian. He looks at her and asks, "Have you found Jesus?" This makes the co-pilot feel very unsafe and unwanted. She knew that it was always a possibility, but she hoped she would not ever have to fly with a vocal fundamentalist Christian. Read more…

The Dilemma of Being Out & Invisible

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Perhaps a discussion of the oppression gay men and women face around the corporate water cooler seems insignificant when compared to more outrageous examples of the day: the proposed legislation in Uganda that calls for imprisonment and death for gay and HIV-positive people, the arrest of a gay couple in Malawi simply for having an engagement party, the Gestapo tactics of the Atlanta and Fort Worth police in their recent raids of gay bars in those cities, among other atrocities. Certainly in comparison to the blatant homophobia I witnessed in the workplace when I first began diversity training there 25 years ago, leaving gay people out of social discussions is far less physically and emotionally threatening. But everything is relative to the context in which it occurs. Read more…

Transgender People in the Restroom

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Starting next year, companies that seek a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index will be required to provide health care coverage that includes the cost of sexual reassignment surgery. For many transsexual employees, such a benefit is the most compelling personal issue for them at work. For most non-transgender people, especially for women, the most compelling related issue is the use of the women’s restroom by transsexual women and cross-dressing men.

Though I can hear the collected groans of frustration from fellow transgender-friendly folks across the globe, there is no getting around the bathroom issue as it relates to gender identity (transsexuality) and gender expression (cross dressing). Read more…

Religious Beliefs: What Do You Do in This Situation?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

One of the most powerful tools we have to help men and women in the workplace become confident and competent in proactively including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender colleagues in corporate life is reading or watching a dramatization of a typical problem and creating a good course of action.

For the next three weeks, I’m sharing scenarios that help illustrate common challenges that gay and transgender employees face in feeling truly valued. Twenty-five years ago, when we first began corporate diversity training on these issues, the unwelcoming experiences of gay and transgender people were more dramatic, such as seeing offensive graffiti in the restroom, or finding their workstation or personal property vandalized. As more and more people have put faces on being gay or transgender, the open hostility has been replaced by subtle but no less alienating behaviors. Read more…