Diversity Guides

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

Archive for February, 2010

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…

What’s a Perfect Ally?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

An AT&T office in Dallas recently denied a gay employee 12 weeks of leave to attend to an ailing spouse, despite a policy that allows heterosexuals to do the same. AT&T gets a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) on its Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and there are many people, including perhaps some at HRC, who questioned the legitimacy of AT&T’s rating, given the fact that despite responding to the CEI survey that they did grant such leave to gay employees, they were claiming the law did not require them to do so.

AT&T has reversed itself and has granted the 12-year veteran leave to attend to the physical needs of his partner of 30 years who had suffered a debilitating stroke. Few of us will ever know what happened behind the scenes to prompt the Fortune 50 corporation to back off its initial decision, but all of us should recognize that what matters in this instance is the end result. Bryan Dickenson is on paid leave at the bedside of his beloved Bill Sugg. Read more…