Archive for June 2015
UPDATE JULY 17: Check out this link to read about and support the newly proposed Equality Act coming before the US Congress.
June 26, 2015 was indeed a very exciting and historic day for the LGBT community and our supporters as the United States Supreme Court ruled that same gender marriage is now a basic right for all Americans across all 50 states. This ends the past confusing patchwork of some states offering same gender marriage, others offering domestic partnership arrangements, while still others invaliding all forms of gay unions and relationships.
Just as this decision was being announced, I was in the middle of presenting “LGBT Diversity in the Workplace and Marketplace” at the Georgia Diversity Council’s half day “LGBT & Allies Diversity Summit” being held on the campus of my Alma Mater Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. Someone monitoring the Supreme Court announcements on their smart phone in the back of the room interrupted to break this momentous news, and the room exploded into cheering and applause.
After the session, I did a brief interview with one of the session’s later panelists, Mariela Romero, the Community Empowerment Director for Univision Communications, which offers Spanish-speaking televisions coverage including its channel in Atlanta. Mariela asked me to comment on the significance of this announcement as well as looking forward to what is next.
THE SIGNIFICANCE: This is absolutely huge, finally granting a universal right and one of the most basic human institutions and arrangements, marriage, to all Americans. I commented that with the mobility of the USA population frequently moving between states, it was critical to finally make same-gender marriage a common practice everywhere in our country. Same gender couples relocating between states that recognize or invalidate their marriages caused a huge amount of consternation and confusion. Something as basic as marriage equality and availability certainly needs to nationwide.
WHAT IS NEXT: Since I was there in Atlanta to present LGBT diversity within a business and organization framework, I did need to focus on the sad reality that, across a majority of US states, a gay person could get married one day and get fired from their job the very next. Employment nondiscrimination protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity is not law at the federal level as is employment protection based on gender, race, religion, etc. In most states, you can be the very best employee meeting and exceeding the requirements of your job, and your boss can fire you simply out of personal dislike for LGBT people.
ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has been languishing in the US Congress for well over a decade, so like marriage in the past, a patchwork of employment protections is available only in some states (see map at bottom of blog.) Thankfully a vast majority of Fortune 1000 firms voluntarily include these protections in their own corporate non-discrimination policies (link to the Human Rights Campaign listing), and President Obama issued an executive order effective April 2015 requiring such protection for companies and their subcontractors with federal contracts. (link to my blog and federal site with the info.)
So let’s celebrate as many of our LGBT friends young and old get married, and let’s also be tireless advocates for also now providing universal employment protection across the entire United States!
Every time I get together with my former IBM colleague and global Human Resources / Diversity expert Sheila Forte-Trammell (see my 2-part blog interview with Sheila), we always have an intellectually stimulating lively conversation.
One of Sheila’s many activities is serving as a resource to the American Association of Community Colleges including speaking at their most recent conference. Her areas of expertise in global leadership, diversity, succession planning and more are very useful and pertinent to community colleges. (Please see the additional information and link on Sheila’s exciting workshop at the bottom of the blog.)
One thing we discussed is the name “community colleges” as a misnomer. One definition of a misnomer is “an inaccurate use of a name or a term.” A definition I like even better is “a word or term that suggests a meaning that is known to be wrong.” Yes, even though community colleges are located in communities throughout the United States and normally serve a constituency of people within driving distance (i.e. in the community), they really are and need to be about education future global business people and leaders.
In today’s inter-connected world, virtually any business today can be global. Even the smallest entrepreneur can reach out internationally to sell their goods and services, and utilize a global supply chain to get the parts and services required to build their products and offerings. In addition, almost all local communities now have diverse populations that include people from all corners of the world. Even in working in one’s community, a person needs to be well versed in how to effectively communicate with people from many different countries, cultures and religions.
The American Association of Community Colleges to which a huge majority of community colleges belong, provides some important statistics. In 2013, there were 1,123 community colleges across the US with 7.4 million students enrolled in credit programs. The enrollment is also very diverse with 50% of the attendees being white, with the other 50% being Hispanic, Black, Asian, mixed-race, etc. And 36% of attendees are the first generation in their families to attend college, which represents growth in economic opportunities for these families.
The AACC’s 2015 fact sheets cites key initiatives including partnering with industry for workforce training, leading in scientific research and providing tools for community colleges to prepare their students for the 21st century. Certainly then global training must be a key component of these programs.
Perhaps community colleges should consider rebranding themselves as “communi-global!”
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During the Mentor-Connect Pre-conference workshop consultant Sheila Forte-Trammel shared the leadership development process she used at IBM and other clients during a Mentor-Connect workshop. She urged both workshop participants to look at their own careers as small businesses. Link to an AACC article about Sheila’s program.
Link to my short paper published as part of the Workforce Diversity Network’s “Expert Forum,” Connecting the Realities of Leadership with the Diverse Global Economy.