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As you review your company’s educational programming for 2019, ask yourself: What more can we be doing to make our LGBTQ employees feel welcome? While including sexual orientation and gender identity in your company’s non-discrimination policies is essential, these policies work best when coupled with education so that employees understand why policies matter and how to carry them out effectively. This is why over half of Fortune 500 companies already provide diversity training around sexual orientation and a smaller but significant percentage include training on gender identity and expression, aiming to set a tone of inclusion throughout their workforces.


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Unfortunately, not all diversity trainings are created equal. While studies have found certain training methods to be highly effective, others yield mixed or even negative results, at their worst spurring resentment rather than inclusion. With LGBTQ education specifically, trainers risk overwhelming participants with new terms or assuming “basic” knowledge that’s not actually basic, while others focus only on legal consequences without ever actually challenging participants’ biases. Even if well-facilitated, a training can fail if a company’s management has not determined meaningful session goals or a plan for implementation, failing to tie it in to a larger D&I strategy.


45315267832_52fe9ee4d0_oWhen diversity trainings are shown to work is when a company’s employees simply lack the knowledge or skills needed to carry out non-discrimination policies effectively, and when the training works to directly correct for that lack. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has further found that the most effective diversity programs are those that are customized to the client’s specific challenges, provide actionable tools for bridging diversity amongst coworkers, and create a safe atmosphere to discuss differences while still causing sufficient discomfort to challenge participants’ long-held assumptions.


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In the space of LGBTQ diversity and inclusion, we take pride in saying no one does this better than Out & Equal. Recognized as a leading voice in LGBTQ workplace inclusion for over twenty years, we offer a variety of in-person and virtual cultural competency trainings focused on sexual orientation and gender identity that move beyond the “101” to help your company’s management determine and implement sustainable D&I strategies. These trainings range from introductory discussions of relevant concepts and terminology to in-depth ally skill-building workshops, as well as full-day “Summit On-sites” that recreate the magic of a professional conference in your office.


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The process of building out your educational material is fully customizable. Our expert facilitators update content based on your company’s goals and values, and can gear the session towards any group of employees–from nonmanagerial employees and ERGs up through middle managers and C-suite executives. Rather than pushing compliance, we combine a review of key materials with interactive activities while encouraging participants to ask questions, ultimately helping your employees build empathy and set tangible goals for everyday allyship. To find out how Out & Equal can help you nurture LGBTQ inclusion within your company, reach out to university@outandequal.org.