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Building an LBGTQ+ Inclusive Workplace

As the world struggles to adapt to a more global, diverse workplace, many businesses have begun stressing inclusivity among coworkers. Being respectful of one's religion, race, nationality, and socioeconomic background is at the utmost importance today. While most workers understand the differences among their coworkers, differences in gender, sexuality, and sex identification are a more contemporary problem and leave many confused.

Creating an LBGTQ+ inclusive environment can prove difficult at times, but steps can be made to achieve a more perfect workplace. Community members who seek such an environment attended the D.C. Biz Chat concerning LBGTQ+ in the workplace. Over thirty people from all around D.C. sought advice in creating an inclusive workplace and listened to the panel of:

* Jack Spirakes; U.S. Small Business Association Officer

* Rebecca Kling; Education Program Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality

* Shelia Alexander-Reid; Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington D.C. Representative

* Monica Palacio; Director of D.C. Office of Human Rights

* And Gerald Burley, Founder and Owner of Sweat D.C.

The current world we live in requires an inclusive, progressive workplace environment not just for your employees or coworkers but also for your community. The LGBTQ+ community has struggled for decades to be accepted. Many members still fear the average workplace because there is currently no federal law that protects the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination, Jack Spirakes. 50% of transgender people, or people who have the desire to change their gender from the one they were assigned at birth, are harassed at work, 29% are harassed by police at work, and 19% are refused medical care due to their transgendered life choices, according Sheila Alexander-Reid.

While discrimination is real and incredibly prevalent, it is extremely detrimental for businesses to participate in such actions. Jack Spirakes stated that inclusive businesses saved $9 billion due to a reduction in stress and health issues caused by discrimination practices and social pressure against the LBGTQ+ community. Some businesses can even face legal action. Monica Palacio and Sheila Alexander-Reid both discussed the enforcement of inclusiveness measures to help protect the LBGTQ+ community. From fines to threats of closures, there are government actions that can occur to help the often overlooked trans, gay, and lesbian communities

From this briefing, we learned more about the struggle for most people is how to implement the needed steps to become inclusive. According to Rebecca Kling, the first step in the process is becoming an ally. An ally is any straight, non-transgendered person who is an advocate for the LBGTQ+ community and their rights. A key point Rebecca Kling tries to make is that you do not need to be an expert to be an ally, but you do need to truly care about the struggles of the LBGTQ+ community. Gerald Burley spoke about his efforts to create an inclusive, progressive work and exercise environment, but he emphasized that the most important factor in creating a diverse workplace is authenticity from those participating. It is impossible to fake being an ally. By being respectful, understanding, and professional to everyone equally, anyone can be an ally and create a more inclusive workplace environment

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