Thursday, February 19, 2009

Engaging Straight Allies in the Workplace

On Tuesday, the Pride in My Workplace 2009 Business Leaders for LGBT Equality Series launched with a panel discussion at the offices of Nixon Peabody LLP. The Business Leaders Series highlights the experiences of individuals and companies leading the way for LGBT workplace equality.

Tuesday’s panel, “Best Practices in Action: Engaging Straight Allies,” brought together over 25 professionals from a variety of industries to talk about strategies for engaging straight and non-trans allies in the workplace. Panelists included moderator Leotis Sanders from Macy’s East, Robert Christmas from Nixon Peabody LLP, and Marsha Bonner from the New York Times. The panelists had some great insight into ways that professionals can encourage straight allies to become advocates for LGBT equality and engage on a level that makes them feel comfortable and welcome.

In the below video clip, straight ally Leotis Sanders speaks about the challenges in encouraging others to “come out” in support of the LGBT community.

Marsha Bonner talked about the difference between “compliance” in accepting LGBT people at work and “commitment” in becoming a straight ally.

Robert Christmas spoke about the importance of giving straight employees the opportunity to talk about LGBT people and families and to move outside of their automatic comfort zone.

The second panel in the 2009 Business Leaders Series will discuss “Best Practices in Marriage Recognition” and will be held in May in NYC. For more information, contact Pride in My Workplace Coordinator, Wazina Zondon at or 212-627-0305.

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