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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Monday, August 7, 2006

Out & Equal Workplace Summit (Sept 9-14)

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a nonprofit organization that champions safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, has its annual Summit this year in Chicago. It's attended by over a thousand corporate employees, many from the Fortune 500 (or so I noticed when I attended to do research in 2003), and a lot of HR people, straight and gay.

It's done with a lot of panache, there are tons of celebrity speakers, and 100 different workshops by corporate hot-shots. There's also an emphasis on including historically under-represented communities.

I'll be presenting the following workshop on Thursday, September 14 at 3:30:

Employer Policy Tools for Employee Gender Transition: This advanced workshop discusses the benefits and problems of various policy tools for organizational responses to gender transition. It does not address the issues involved in simple addition of "gender identity and expression" to EEO policies.

It reviews in detail policy recommendations for various foreseeable issues in the gender transition context, such as notification and mediation processes and creating clear facilities usage criteria. In addition to discussion of policy tools, the workshop will also use role-playing and experiential exercises to give participants a feel for using these policy tools in real-life situations. A set of comprehensive guidelines now in use by a Fortune 500 company will be handed out and discussed in detail.

The workshop begins with a brief review of the 11 basic policy recommendations set forth in HRC's Transgender Issues in the Workplace: A Tool for Managers."

However, HR and Diversity professionals in-the-know should be aware of five major policy tools not listed in the HRC booklet that are useful to address foreseeable issues, including notification and mediation processes, step-by-step guidelines for accountable units, training of HR personnel in gender transition processes and guidelines, clear facilities usage criteria, and communication sessions for frequent workplace contacts.

The presentation will focus on the three most common policy structures: traditionalist, modernist, and progressive. Policy adoption steps will also be discussed, particularly geared to large organizations where getting input from all involved departments, such as legal, benefits, and security, is crucial in order to get the info and buy-in necessary to implement successfully.

There are also many other workshops, generally on the following themes:

  • LGBT issues within a global context
  • Being out as LGBT people of color
  • The business case for LGBT inclusion
  • Religious expression & LGBT workplace issues
  • Tapping into the LGBT market
  • How to build ERG membership diversity
There will be a lot of networking opportunities, and I will make sure to attend the transgender-themed reception on Friday eve, right before I rush off to my plane. The featured speakers are the glitterati of diversity:
  • George Takei (community activist now, but formerly "Mr. Sulu" from the only really good Star Trek, the original)
  • Nina Jacobson, president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, co-founder of "Out There" and one of Forbes' 2005 World's 100 most powerful women. (Ms. Jacobson, I'm ready for my close-up now.)
  • Dr. Richard Florida (celebrity prof of "gay index" fame and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Instititution)
  • Yolanda King (social activist and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King)
  • Andrea James and Calpernia Addams (of TransAmerica fame - here's a great Insider segment on their work with Felicity Huffman)
Kate Clinton's hosting the awards dinner.

There are also pre-Summit seminars on transgender and race diversity training. Looks like it's going to be both fun and useful.

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