Diversity Guides

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

Archive for November, 2010

Working & Visiting Where You Might Not Feel Safe

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Two years ago, two lesbian tourists in Dubai were imprisoned for one month for showing affection on a beach. Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country governed by Islamic Sharia law. Punishment for same-sex love-making is imprisonment for UAE citizens, and deportation for foreigners.

Abu Dhabi, another member of the UAE, has recently announced plans to build three large, expensive museums, one an extension of the Louvre, and another of the Guggenheim. The project is requiring input and services from thousands of people from across the globe, most of whom excel in the arts. A short distance away from the museum sites, New York University is establishing a campus. Luxury hotels are being built to accommodate the large number of expected tourists.

Five years ago, 26 young men were arrested at an Abu Dhabi hotel for cross-dressing and/or having gay sex. They were all given a five-year prison sentence. The Minister of Justice was quoted as saying, "There will be no room for homosexual and queer acts in the UAE. Our society does not accept queer behavior, either in word or in action."

There are several Western-owned global corporations that have offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and throughout the Middle East. The vast majority of them have policies that guarantee their gay and transgender employees a workplace in which they feel safe and valued. How do these companies navigate the mine-filled cultural waters of religiously conservative Muslim countries? Read more…

Thanks for What Has Been Loaned to Us

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

At this time of year, Americans give thanks for their blessings. Many people assume that whatever good fortune they enjoy is a gift from a god who favors them. They don’t pursue the logic of this, as it would force them to concede that their god favors some people more than them. Fundamentalist social conservatives, for instance, might become apoplectic peeking through the dining room windows of some gay families.

When we join hands around the Thanksgiving table in our home, we try to acknowledge our bounty with awareness that we are undeserving of our life’s good fortune, and that we are simply caretakers of the goods that will one day be enjoyed by others.

We all forget from time to time that our lives are filled with emotional bills of sale for people, places, and things we don’t actually own. No matter what role we had in their acquisition or creation, we serve only as their custodians. Everything belongs to the earth and its generations of inhabitants. Read more…

“Thank you. You did a great job!”

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

In a guest column in a recent edition of The New York Times, a corporate consultant warned that companies should focus more on retention than on downsizing. Jon Picoult suggested that a turnover storm is looming, and that those employees who feel treated like equipment rather than as people will leave their companies as soon as they are financially able. He concluded that managers who are "more communicative, more appreciative, more connected, and more civil" will retain valued employees more successfully than those who see their employees as "investment capital".

This raises the ongoing debate on the role of the corporate manager. Is the manager a coach or a task master? Should a manager care about the emotional wellbeing of his or her direct reports, or is the only criterion for a manager’s success the productivity he or she gets out of the team? Read more…

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…