It was a little like “Shark Tank” and “American Idol” without the music. It was also a powerful way to introduce Diversity Works newest team member, Director of Training, Tony Ferraiolo.
This week Diversity Works went to Wall Street to pitch Colgate-Palmolive, New York Life, and JP Morgan Chase, all in in the same room at the same time! It was all thanks to a special “matchmaking” program created for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) certified businesses by the New York chapter of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (www.nglccny.org) More on their work and the pioneering movement that the NGLCC is leading in our next blog.
Jenn and I were proud to do the pitch with our new Director of Training, Tony Ferraiolo. Here is how he opened our meeting.
Imagine tomorrow I came to work as an employee to you and I told you I was taking a medical leave and when I returned I was going to be the opposite gender? That is exactly what I did, and I’d like to share a bit of my story, which has led to my career in diversity training and workplace equality.
It was just as uncomfortable for me and my fellow co-workers as it was for my boss. I was the first Transgender person any of them had ever known. When I returned to work after my surgery, I presented very “male”. I can tell by the reactions from everyone, that the company did not have any type of diversity training. The HR Manager didn’t even have a re-entry meeting, so I was never told which bathroom to use. I realized that I was not the only person transitioning, everyone in the company was transitioning along with me. For three weeks I waited until my lunch break, drove a mile down the road, and used a bathroom at a gas station. I finally got the emotional strength to ask the HR Manager what bathroom I should use.
If there was a policy written before I returned to work the bathroom issue would have been addressed. Organizations need to put policies in place and have diversity trainings before an employee transitions or comes out as LGBT.
Now imagine, a company where employees are embraced for every kind of diversity, feel safe and protected at the workplace and whose stories help the company communicate their message broadly to the community. And position them as leaders to the LGBT community.
You can be this company with the help of Diversity Works.
Tony’s is also a certified coach and highly sought after speaker. He will be at the “Transgender Lives 2012” Conference (of which Diversity Works is a sponsor) at UCONN, doing workshops this weekend. (www.transadvocacy.com) In one of them, he will join me and fellow CABO members (www.thecabo.org), the CT affiliate of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, to talk about the challenges Trans people face in finding and keeping their jobs. The unemployment rate among the Trans Community is estimated to be between 40-60%.
We are so lucky to have Tony on the Diversity Works team, and it was truly an honor to stand beside him and Jenn on Wall Street this week!
Stay tuned for Part 2,