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Diversity PRIDE: Learning and growing from experiencing the LGBT community

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned about being true to myself was while serving on the HP PRIDE Executive Advisory Board. I consider myself an ally to the LGBT community, which means that I openly support the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender people. As an executive, I was asked to serve on the advisory council representing my business group at HP. Some colleagues asked, “Why would you take the time to serve if you are not part of that community?” or “What if someone thinks you are part of that community?”  These questions never crossed my mind when I was asked and accepted the position on the Executive Advisory Board. My intention was to do my best to understand and support the equality and opportunities of this group of employees. I had also been involved in mentoring and supporting many other kinds of employee groups throughout my career.

My participation was part of a journey of learning by truly listening to the employees that were part of HP PRIDE. When I traveled to various locations, I would have lunch meetings with folks from the local HP PRIDE group and ask them what challenges they faced in the workplace and in life.  I did not assume that I knew the answer even though I had friends, family and colleagues who were part of the LGBT community. Instead, I focused on truly listening. It paid off in a deeper understanding of each person’s individual experience.

The biggest lesson came when I was asked to go to the annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit. It was there that I listened, observed and learned. I was the minority in the mix, one of only a few straight people attending the conference. I learned what transgender means and what it’s like to go through the transition because of the refreshing openness and honesty of those willing to tell me their stories. Everyone was kind and willing to share their experiences so I could really understand their daily challenges. As the conference progressed, I found that I was accepted and welcomed by everyone. It was humbling.

What I realized is that instead of highlighting all of the differences and separating myself, I began to see the similarities. Each person, gay, straight, black, white, male or female is made up of multiple dimensions. The best way to relate to others is to find facets we share. I am a woman who has been discriminated against and isolated at various times in my life and career. I had been a single mother who struggled and was judged by others along the way. Being involved in the LGBT community as an ally has taught me about being myself and celebrating who I am. I relished this experience during my time at HP. I became involved to serve others and ended up benefiting from the experience myself far beyond what I ever could have imagined.   I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself the opportunity to be immersed in a group that is not like you in some way.  It is a powerful way to learn about others and their differences and to in turn celebrate your own differences.

One Response to Diversity PRIDE: Learning and growing from experiencing the LGBT community

  1. Kim Box says:

    Kim, I loved reading your insirational writings… I’m a 48 yr. old woman, Mother , and Granmother.. I was also a single Mom… My best work ever. I have been very successful in everything I have set out to do (Bussiness Owner, Realtor, Police Office ( even thou I was injured in the line of duty- not my fault… Long Story..) I from a very young age was interested in psycology and have taken several couses on psycology, and just about anything to learn more about people, and what makes them tic. (smile) I was also involved in Gay rights 20 years ago…Daytona Beach,Florida I did sales and Marketing for ways to increase revenue… I completely agree, more people need to learn to come out of their comfort zones. They might just find that, they may find out more about them selves, good and bad…LOL!!! let’s hope more good, then bad, or at least you learn something even if the Bad did come out…
    Kim, Thank you for your openess, and refreshing Insirational thoughts… Your one in a million… It’s hard to find people who are as open, honest, and refreshing as you… So may I once again say Thank you, you are, Refreshing……( Smile ;) )

    Respectfully,
    Florida Kim Box

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