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Fostering a Safe Workplace for LGBT Employees

By Terry Preston | On June 29, 2020

While the recent Supreme Court ruling that the LGBT community is legally protected from job discrimination is a huge win and a step in the right direction for our country, workplace discrimination still exists outside of the confines of the right to employment. In fact, despite these protections, there are a variety of ways in which the LGBT community faces discrimination at work, and they aren’t always as cut and dried as hurtful language or insults.

At a previous employer, I was challenged with overcoming this discrimination directly. On a smaller, project-based account that only required the ongoing work of one individual, I was assigned a senior director to oversee my work—but unlike my other accounts, would never be introduced to the client. Rather, I was informed that I was “not enough of a man’s man” to be featured on the account—and while the client had never expressed the slightest discomfort with the LGBT community, and my orientation had no impact on the work I produced, my superiors believed it was in the client’s best interest to keep my presence hidden. “When you work with men, you have to act like men,” my director said. “We just don’t think you have what it takes.”

This ideology soon seeped into other aspects of my job. Shortly after, I was routinely asked how I enjoyed living in the gay district (where I did not live), and upon receiving new office furniture, was told by the same individual that my department was lucky to have me because I was gay— “and all gay people are great with decor and interior design.”

Anyone who has met me or shared a workspace with me would beg to differ on my design or organizational skills—and these comments, paired with my behind-closed-doors client work, hurt. Despite my right to equal employment, when organizations do not actively speak up to ensure the equal and fair treatment of all employees, these comments are left unchecked and can have a lasting impact on the emotional well-being of staff.

This post originally appeared on O’Dwyers. To view the full article, please click here.

Terry Preston

Terry Preston is an Assistant Account Executive with more than 3 years of experience in media relations and brand communications. Prior to his role at Affect, Terry was at Paradise Advertising, where he was responsible for executing creative campaigns for numerous travel, tourism and luxury consumer clients. He holds a BA in Public Relations & Advertising from The University of Tampa.