Recently, I found myself having a short conversation with a man at the airport – we were both waiting to board a flight to Houston. Just in front of us were 2 men with 2 young children. The men had their hands full getting their family on the plane – the stroller, diaper bag, stuffed animals and a very excited little one about to take his first flight.
As we watched the family dynamic, the guy next to me leaned over and whispered “What a great looking family.” Honestly, I was taken back and found myself at a loss for words. The reason for my sudden speechlessness? I was not prepared to respond to his comment even though I was thinking the same thing!
It may be a leap, but I would venture to guess that many of you have also found yourself in a similar circumstance – maybe not at the airport, but at a restaurant, store, a school event or in the workplace. Perhaps one of your employees or a peer came ‘Out’ to you – letting you know he/she is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. And, maybe, you were not prepared to respond and therefor the conversation didn’t have the outcome you really wanted. I think many of us can relate. The issue is that when we’re not prepared for these types of conversations, we miss the opportunity to practice inclusive leadership. To ensure the success of our teams and ultimately the optimal performance of our business, it is imperative that every member of the team feels comfortable to bring their whole self to work.
I am pleased to share with you that Sodexo has recently released a new tool to support inclusive leadership – the LGBT Conversation Guide – an on-line resource that has tools, information, and answers to many of the frequently asked questions around the LGBT community. It offers direction on how to effectively support an employee that comes ‘out’ in the workplace as well as first-hand accounts from Sodexo employees on their experiences and perspectives on how to support workplace equality. The Guide is available to all Sodexo employees and I believe it will be an essential resource to helping managers create more inclusive, collaborative and successful workplaces.
The work environment can present many challenges for employees and managers, but Sodexo’s new LGBT Conversation Guide provides straightforward and easy to implement guidance on how to create a more inclusive and equitable work environment so that every person can fully contribute to the continued success of our business.
Jeff is director of training for the Sodexo Government Services segment.