The Great United States / North Carolina Diversity Divide

Three recent events at federal USA and state of North Carolina governmental level starkly highlight a major divide in how the country and my state executive branch governments understand and value diversity.

US Vice President Joe Biden references the historic USAID / NGLCC partnership at an LGBT Pride Month reception at his residence.

US Vice President Joe Biden references the historic USAID / NGLCC partnership at an LGBT Pride Month reception at his residence.

First, two events in June at the USA executive branch level:

• On Monday, June 16, President Obama announced that he soon plans to sign an executive order giving workplace protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity (that address LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people) for federal contractors. Link to article.

• At the end of June, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) to encourage and support LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs in developing countries. Link to details.

Second, follow these national items with an executive order issued by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory on June 30th. In his statewide executive order #55 (link), Governor McCrory addressed equal opportunity for employees in the state government regardless of “race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information.” One glaring omission – nothing referencing sexual orientation or gender identity! It would appear that for NC State Government jobs, treating people unfairly is perfectly OK if they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

What most of our country’s Fortune 500 companies and the federal government understand is that all people must be treated fairly in the workplace for all to work at peak capacity and to achieve the best results. Still too often in the United States, LGBT people are looked down upon, scorned, demonized or even bullied, and if any group needs workplace protection, it is this segment.

Sadly enough, many political leaders often speak of providing a business-friendly environment to help stimulate economic growth, but then at the same time fail to protect and empower all in the workplace. Three large employers in the state of North Carolina have already told me in my role as a diversity consultant and trainer, that they are having serious issues recruiting the best talent to their locations in North Carolina because of our lack of progression on LGBT equality and protections at the state level.

It is time for all people across all states in our country to advocate for the equal and fair treatment of all Americans in the workplace, both in the private and public sector, so that all can work at their very best and help grow our country’s economy and deliver government services more effectively and efficiently.

For LGBT Pride Month (JUNE!) – Being a REAL Ally!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Lots of Useful and Interesting Links at the bottom of the blog! Check them out.

Traditionally, June is LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month commemorating the “Stonewall Rebellion” in Greenwich Village, New York in late June 1969. Led by a set of brave drag queens, patrons of the Stonewall Tavern boldly stood up to police harassment.
Ally final
To supplement the materials I provided in past years (see links at bottom of blog), this year I want to discuss the importance of “allies” for and within the LGBT community. Allies can be “heterosexual” people, LGB taking action as allies for trans folks, or LGBT acting as allies across other dimensions of diversity like age or race.

Webster’s dictionary defines an ally as “one that is associated with another as a helper.” What a great definition that goes well with the graphic I created for this blog! A true ally-helper is much more than a person who says they support someone; they go beyond that to take some kind of action to help their associates. According to Friendfactor, one of the leading non-profits in the US today working to educate and activate LGBT allies, 77% of Americans verbally state that they support LGBT inclusion, but a much smaller number, 14%, actually do something about it.

Some actions you as an ally can take:
• Support your LGBT friends by including them in your social activities and treating same-gender couples the same as your heterosexual coupled friends.
• Use inclusive, non-gender specific language like partner or spouse when describing your significant other and asking about theirs, to signal that you’re supportive.
• When you hear someone use a derogatory slur or make a stereotype about LGBT people, ask them why they think so and start a conversation about how they may feel if that slur or stereotype was made about them.
gay marriage poster
• Attend rallies and community activities advocated for LGBT equality, speak out as a straight person and even carry a sign or banner (see photo).

Finally engage with Friendfactor, contact [email protected] for more info on building an active ally program at your workplace or school. Visit www.friendfactor.org for their excellent ally resources. And consider supporting or attending Friendfactor’s 1st Annual Ally Challenge Awards Dinner in San Francisco on July 26.

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Here are some additional past blogs that can serve as LGBT Pride Month Resources:

LINK: Five things to never say to gay people

LINK: Five common misconceptions about gay people

LINK: Five Heroes of the early US Gay Rights Movement

LINK: Five Ways CEOs Can Show Support for LGBT Diversity

A Guest Blog: LGBT Gay Diversity in Direct Sales

LINK: Four Quick Points around LGBT Economic Development

LINK: The Intersection of LGBT and Aging

LINK: LGBT and Housing Issues