Forming an Employee GLBT Workgroup

We formed our LGBT group about 2 years ago here at our Milwaukee subsidiary of a Fortune 5000 company... so I can probably give you some very Midwestern suggestions... or at least how we got off the ground!

  1. Contact all of the LGBT people you know at work.  Make your contact as discreet as possible (we telephoned people and left our home numbers)... invite them to a brainstorming session.  We did it at one of our homes.   Of the 15 people we knew, 14 showed up.   It was amazing.
  2. Talk about what you want to accomplish:   a social network, a support system, an agent for changing corporate culture and policies, or all of the above.
  3. Identify a means of staying in communication.   Since we have email, we agreed to have 2 people (only) manage the private email distribution list. Additionally, we gave people the option of allowing themselves to be known to other members of the group as well as staying unknown.   In no case is anyone's name revealed to anyone else unless they permit.
  4. Identify your straight allies.   They're invaluable.
  5. Include partners in any meetings or get-togethers.   It's a great way to network, affirm relationships, and build a solid group.
  6. Assess your company's EEOC / employee handbook / diversity policies.   Where are the holes for LGBT people?  That is, is sexual orientation included?  Gender identity/characteristics/expression?  If not, it's a great place to start.  If you have protection in the policy, think about Domestic Partner Benefits.
  7. If you're in Milwaukee or Minneapolis/St Paul, there are LGBT Workplace Coalitions of local LGBT employee groups.   They can give you some pointers and support. See also Out & Equal
  8. Try to identify local LGBT employee groups... we had access to people from Ameritech and Wisconsin Electric, who gave us tons of help in defining our group's purpose, goals and strategies.
  9. Try to get together on a regular basis.   At first, we met on a monthly basis... but since we've now achieved many of our goals (in 2 years!!!), we'll be meeting every other month.   We've tried every permutation:  at local restaurant, someone's home, neutral office space...  people seem to be most comfortable at someone's home.
  10. Don't be discouraged if just a few of you are giving the group its direction.  Although we run our group on strictly democratic lines, there are only 3-5 of us who push forward movement.  The important thing is to remember the purpose of your group.


[Courtesy of Linda_D_Bradshaw]

For a more detailed description, and a list of existing employee workgroups, see HRC.

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