June 1, 2015

June has always been the busiest month for PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality® in the Workplace program and 2015 will be no different. PFLAG National staff members Jean-Marie Navetta and Jody Huckaby will spend the month on the road, traveling to 11 different states, to help more than 16 different corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations create more inclusive workplaces for their LGBTQ employees. And this year we’re expanding our reach even further by offering organization-wide webinars events in a number of places.

So why is this work so important? Equality & Diversity Partnerships Manager Jamie Henkel had this to say, “While it is true that we have seen major progress when it comes to workplace nondiscrimination policies at the company, local, state, and even federal level the fact remains that only about half of LGBTQ people feel comfortable being out to most or all of their coworkers. That’s the challenge today: culture change.” Research consistently shows that LGBTQ people who are in the closet at work often lie about their personal lives, avoid work events, coworkers and clients, and even miss days of work because of the stresses of perceiving an unwelcoming work environment.
 
And that’s where PFLAG comes in. Through a series of more than a dozen different courses developed since 2007, PFLAG National staff has worked with more than 100 different companies and organizations providing practical advice for allies who want to create more inclusive and welcoming space for their LGBTQ colleagues. These courses cover topics that range from making the business case for LGBTQ equality to navigating the complex intersections of LGBTQ issues and religion in the workplace and are customized to meet the unique needs of employees in various industries.
 
So while staff is on the road, how are PFLAG members changing their workplaces? Beyond all else, remember that sharing your story is a powerful force at work. Whether it is in a more formal panel presentation during Pride month about your journey to acceptance or just sharing stories about your LGBTQ loved ones in everyday conversations with colleagues, you’re reframing what LGBT inclusion looks like. Telling your stories to creates the culture change that we need to ensure that policies and laws are effective. Have questions about reaching even more allies in your community? Want to share info your ally engagement efforts? Contact Jamie Henkel at jhenkel@pflag.org or (202) 467-8180 ext 210.
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