On November 13, North Highland, in partnership with Lowes and Truist, hosted an important and informative panel discussion “Leading with pride: bringing your whole self to work.” Panelists discussed their thoughts and experiences on being LGBTQ+ in the workplace, and what we can all to support inclusive cultures. Note that the views expressed below are those of individual speakers and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Lowes, Truist, or North Highland. The panel featured:
- Jill Jacques, North Highland Global Financial Services Lead and Moderator
- Major General Tammy Smith
- CSM (R) Teresa Duncan
- John Knott, Truist, Head of Corporate Strategy
- Vinny Scalese, Lowes, Senior Vice President of Store Operations
In addition to sharing their personal journeys of how they bring their whole self to work, the panelists also discussed several key takeaways.
First, advocate for each other. If you are LGBTQ+, remember that your colleagues may have had a different experience than you in your organization. Support them, and as a leader, you can take charge in helping others. Get involved in your employee resource group, if available. If you’re an ally, be supportive and serve as a sounding board to your colleagues. Make yourself known and move your actions beyond neutral. Examples include asking questions, asking about pronoun preference or even something as simple as using a rainbow coffee mug in a meeting.
Second, having the backing of a company culture is incredibly important to allow employees to be who they are and bring their authentic selves to work. Create a culture of respect and inclusiveness. Ensure that behaviors and policies align and reflect the culture you want to have. Understand that it’s about family – work family, personal family, and bringing that together and sharing the joy and sorrows with each other.
Finally, employees and leaders can learn from each other to help bring their organic, authentic selves to work. Leaders must consider how to impact, influence and inspire to help create an authentic leadership position and environment for others. From updating old, forgotten or outdated policies to creating an inclusive environment to influencing others through leadership to acting as allies to providing support and inspiring colleagues to bring their authentic selves to work – there are many, tangible actions you can take to create a more inclusive environment. While some leaders will not be accepting, there is still a learning opportunity in the challenge - finding a group of supporters and going above your leader’s level to get the right answers may be the right path forward.
Thank you to all of our panelists and participants for joining an important and informative discussion.