Posts Tagged ‘LGBT Inclusion’

Breakfast with Governor Roy Cooper – Part 2 of 2: Diversity and LGBT

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper speaking at the April 6th Triangle Business Journal “Power Breakfast.” (PHOTO: Triangle Business Journal)

The Triangle Business Journal, the very well-read and respected business weekly newspaper for the Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill area of North Carolina holds a quarterly “Power Breakfast” featuring an area senior leader with a few hundred local business leaders. The Spring 2017 breakfast held April 6, 2017 featured the newly elected NC Governor Roy Cooper. Governor Cooper is quite unique as he was the first challenger to defeat a sitting governor in our state since 1850!

Part 1 of this blog (link) provides a general overview of Governor Cooper’s remarks. And since I am a diversity and career development consultant with a deep expertise in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) workplace and marketplace, this entry will expand on how the Governor addressed diversity and more specifically HB2 and the LGBT community.

Much of the focus was on the unpopular HB2 law passed last Spring which dictated the bathroom transgender people need to use in public venues, curtailed the ability of cities and counties to pass their own non-discrimination ordinances, and more. A few days before the breakfast, a compromise repeal of HB2 was passed and signed by the Governor, which removed the transgender bathroom usage provision, but disallows cities and municipalities from adding anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people before 2020. (Link to my most recent blog about HB2 and to my letter to the Raleigh News and Observer about the inadequacy of the compromise bill.)

NC’s unpopular HB2 law, a subject of protests all over the state, was a major part of Governor Cooper’s remarks. (Photos courtesy of the Charlotte and Raleigh News and Observer)

Here are the points that Governor Cooper made about diversity in general and more specifically about HB2 and the LGBT community in both his remarks and during the Question and Answer portion.

• Within 30 seconds of taking the stage, Governor Cooper started that he loves his state of North Carolina with its diverse mix of people of different genders, races and sexual orientations; that diversity is all over our state, and “that we need to encourage diversity at every step.”

• The most recent compromise bill repealing parts of HB2 is only initial first step. HB2 was very bad for our LGBT citizens, our state and our economy.

• Governor Cooper voiced his strong commitment to fight for statewide protections for LGBT citizens of North Carolina.

• We need to send a signal to our LGBT citizens and to other states that North Carolina is headed in the right direction in terms of LGBT inclusion.

• The business community needs to continue to take the lead in working on equality for the LGBT community.

• We need to be a more diverse state and include protections especially for the more vulnerable of our citizens. We need more comprehensive state non-discrimination policies; meanwhile we should keep our eyes on the Federal courts which could help shape this issue.

• When asked if he would considering issuing an executive order similar to Virginia Governor McAuliffe’s adding the LGBT non-discrimination protects requirement to do business with the Commonwealth of Virginia (see blog about this), Governor Cooper responded positively that he plans to use the executive order broadly and is working on proposals within the LGBT area and other unaddressed groups. (See latest Triangle Business Journal article about this point.)

I am heartened by Governor Cooper’s strong statement of support for LGBT Equality, and though I feel the recent HB2 removal compromise was a very weak first initial step, I would like to support Governor Cooper and provide him any encouragement and assistance to make North Carolina fully inclusive and welcoming of ALL people in 2017.

Evolving Employee Resource Groups – a Creative Approach from Erie Insurance

Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Erie Insurance's Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics, presented Erie's D&I best practices at a recent National Diversity Council - Carolinas "Best Practices" Meeting

Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Erie Insurance’s Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics, presented Erie’s D&I best practices at a recent National Diversity Council – Carolinas “Best Practices” Meeting

In the diversity and inclusion field, there continues to be continued discussion on the importance of Employee Resource Groups, or ERGs. Traditionally, they have been referred to as “affinity groups” as they bring together employees around a common constituency factor such as Black, Hispanic, Women, Young Professionals, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender), Veterans and more. These groups help make employees feel more at home and included in the workplace, and provide activities such as professional and social networking, mentoring and community involvement.

Over the years, ERGs have continued to evolve. Some companies now refer to ERGs as BRGs – Business Resource Groups. This underscores that the true goal of the ERG is to make the employees and the business overall more effective. There should be a strong connection between the strategy and goals of the ERG (or BRG) and the company. Activities such as leadership development, connecting the company to the community and marketplace, and even input into product or services development helps the organization achieve its business goals.

As a diversity and inclusion consultant, I often attend various workshops to continue to pick up the latest development in my field. In early July, I attend a half day “Diversity and Inclusion Best Practices” seminar organized by the National Diversity Council – Carolinas in Durham, NC. One of the presenters was Tesha L. Nesbit Arrington, Director of Diversity & Inclusion and Strategic Analytics at Erie Insurance Group.

Ms. Nesbit, in presenting several diversity and inclusion best practices from Erie Insurance, highlighted their innovative approach to employee resource groups. Instead of starting with constituency-based resource groups, they started with groups focused around a particular business focus. Their first four ERGs were:
SynERgIzE – focused on building an inclusive workplace
Multiplicity – for diverse employee recruiting outreach
CamaradERIE – building and promoting diversity among the agent community
ExpERIEnce – around providing best customer experience and service for its diverse customer set.

After these networks were up, running and successful with participation from a wide range of constituencies, that provided a strong base for next launching constituency based affinity groups. The first two were women and multi-generational, with African-American and Veterans’s charter proposals in the queue.

Erie Insurance continues to build ongoing robust diversity and inclusion initiatives on this base, including their “Dignity and Respect” Campaign and scoring 100% on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, which measures corporate LGBT inclusion.

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