I’ve spent the last decade of my leadership career and my entire professional career being an out lesbian, and along the way, I’ve experienced a range of responses to who I identified as as a person. I’ve worked on teams where I was respected as an individual, and others where I felt like a check on a diversity and inclusion checklist. I’ve learned along the way how to understand what it looks like to support the LGBTQ+ community — what a true advocate and champion looks like — and how to weed out imposters.
Does the company do what it says it does?
First things first: look at the actions of a company, not what they say. When investigating a company’s diversity and inclusion promises, look at their results — what have they actually done for our community? It’s easy to throw a rainbow flag up in the office during pride month, or even publicly support the Pride Parade #rainbowlogo.
The real things to look for are if they invest in the things that truly matter, like LGBTQ+ inclusive benefits. Are they actually doing the work? Some things to look for are: gender-neutral restrooms, all types of family leave available (surrogacy, adoption, birthing mother and caretaker), LGBTQ+ inclusive health insurance benefits — like stipends for IVF/IUI treatment or top surgeries, appropriately using gender pronouns in emails and in regular communication, and investment in trainings and workshops that support an inclusive environment.
Does it listen to the LGBTQ+ community?
Second: look for a company that listens. I’ve spent the majority of my career working within startups that have tight budgets and limited resources. Some companies have listened to feedback and worked within their constraints to create an inclusive environment, while others have ruled chalked up their lousy effort at D&I to “budget constraints.”
I’ve always said it’s free to be a good person. So ask yourself: do you work for a company that treats the LGBTQ+ community with respect?
Is it working with like-minded vendors?
Lastly, research the vendors your team works with. Are they representative extensions of the company’s values, or do they detract from
If you ever need help with exploring this arena further, don’t hesitate to reach out. If we can’t help, we know someone who will be able to. In addition, If you are someone you know is struggling in their career as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my door is always open. Please don’t hesitate to reach out. We are a safe place for you.
Leah Chaney (She/Her)