Monday, June 7, 2010

Engaging Straight Allies in the Workplace

From left to right: Panelists Darice Henritze, Heidi Tickle, Mary Ellen Connerty, and moderator Marla Hassner.

A message from Pride in My Workplace Coordinator Bradford Menoche:

Last Wednesday, the Pride in My Workplace program, in partnership with KPMG, successfully hosted another event in our Business Leaders for LGBT Equality Series entitled: “Engaging Straight Allies: How Can I Champion LGBT Diversity and Inclusion?” Over 100 people from over 40 different firms and companies attended this event which combined a panel discussion with networking opportunities.

On the panel were four women who each exemplify success in their fields: Mary Ellen Connerty, Partner and Global Diversity Leader at Mercer; Darice Henritze, Partner at KPMG; Heidi Tickle, Director and Chief Operating Officer to Americas Compliance at Credit Suisse Securities, LLC; and moderator Marla Hassner, who is both a Pride Agenda Board Member and a committee member of the Pride in My Workplace program.

Each panelist described different specific initiatives in their company for engaging and publicizing supportive allies, but some common themes raised included:

  1. It is crucial to have visible straight allies, especially those in senior management positions. This provides the entire firm/company the opportunity to see that it is OK to be a straight ally.

  2. Sometimes all it takes for those in leadership to get involved is for a respected LGBT employee to ask a senior manager to become a straight ally.

  3. It is important to recognize that there will be awkward moments for straight allies and providing them a supportive environment where issues related to “coming out” as a straight ally can be discussed openly and professionally is essential.

  4. It is important that straight allies publicly acknowledge their support of their LGBT colleagues. Some simple ways include network giveaways like pens, stickers, and paperweights that say Straight Ally.

Having straight allies is necessary to provide a supportive environment where LGBT employees and their contributions in the workplace are acknowledged, accepted, and encouraged. Have you asked someone to be an ally today?

This event is an example of the leadership position that KPMG has taken on LGBT issues in the workplace. In fact, independent of this event, the Pride Agenda is honoring KPMG with an award at our annual Equality@Work awards on June 16.

For more information or to help your company get involved in the Pride in My Workplace program, please contact Bradford Menoche, Pride in My Workplace Coordinator at (212) 627-0305 or

No comments: