Last Thursday, in a collaboration between the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) and the Career Development Office (CDO), students had a chance to learn about strategies and resources to navigate the workplace as a person who identifies as LGBTQ+.
The workshop, titled “How to Come Out as LGBTQ+ at Work,” was facilitated by Lee Schott, associate director of CDO, and Timothy Bussey, assistant director of ODEI. The event took place during Common Hour in Chadeayne Dining Room. This was one of the first times the two offices collaborated on a project about LGBTQ+ issues, according to Schott.
“I knew that this was something that I wanted: To make sure that we did have a clear and distinct collaboration between the ODEI and the CDO in terms of having some LGBTQ+ career-related workshops and presentations,” Bussey said.
The workshop began with a presentation on statistics and data about LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, what types of issues queer and trans employees face and how those issues impact their careers. According to national data, about half of LGBTQ+ people in the workforce are not out. Each segment of the presentation was followed by a discussion during which the students who attended the event could express their own experiences, concerns or strategies.
“We wanted it to be more of a conversation than a prescriptive presentation, because career development in general is very dependent on each individual circumstance, so we can’t really say ‘Here’s the right way and here is the wrong way to do it.’ It was just an opportunity to get together and talk a little bit,” Schott said. “It wasn’t a huge group of students but they were engaged and they did offer input and ask questions.”
On a similar note, Bussey highlighted the situational nature of coming out. “We really emphasize the sort of individuality of peoples’ experiences and also making sure that people are aware of certain sorts of practicalities such as state non-discrimination protections.”
Bussey and Schott started planning this event in the beginning of the semester, and both noted that they plan on holding similar events next semester.
“Given the student interest and engagement, we would love to do maybe a workshop each semester and part of this was, we wanted to see kind of what the pulse was and if this is something of interest, and I think it is,” Schott said. “We sort of opened the floor for ideas too. If students do have ideas or topics that they want covered specific questions that they have, we would love to hear that feedback so we can customize.”