Red Ventures Is Reinforcing Its LGBTQIA+ Safe Spaces. Here’s How.
We spend a significant portion of our time working alongside fellow team members; differences and unique experiences help enrich the work environment, and all employees should feel safe enough to be their authentic selves. This can be difficult when an organization lacks the resources to foster a sense of belonging, regardless of how prevalent a particular identity is throughout a team.
On National Coming Out Day, it is important to both celebrate considerable progress in creating equitable spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community while also recognizing the work still to be done. After all, 46 percent of LGBTQIA+ people are still closeted at work, according to a 2018 Human Rights Campaign study. While disclosing this aspect of identity is a deeply personal decision, and one that should be neither required nor expected, the question remains whether the choice is due to company culture rather than privacy preferences.
One failsafe method for encouraging employee openness is providing a sense of safety, trust and inclusion. The team at Red Ventures keeps these values at the forefront of their work on diversity. Chief Diversity Officer Khemari Cook shared details about Red Ventures’ resources, which include partnerships with Identiversity for employee training on sexual and gender identity, an employee resource group that provides a voice and community for LGBTQIA+ employees, and benefits ranging from family planning to gender transitioning.
The value of a resource depends on its ability to evolve and grow to meet employees’ needs. To that end, Red Ventures provides the opportunity for all employees to complete an annual diversity survey. Most recently, those results led Cook and her team to create mentorship programs and additional employee resource groups. With the opportunity to review feedback from a position of intersectional awareness, Red Ventures is focusing on initiatives that holistically celebrate and elevate all voices.
Being open about one’s sexuality in the workplace is a deeply personal decision, one that’s often informed by the level of safety and trust a person feels at work. What are some concrete steps Red Ventures has taken to create a sense of trust and safety among your team?
We create a sense of safety and trust by helping all employees understand what it means to be inclusive, demonstrating how to consistently model inclusive behaviors, and providing resources that demonstrate our commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community.
This year we had the privilege to partner with Identiversity to provide a curriculum for topics such as the spectrum of sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity. Our goal was to ensure we’re all rooted in the same understanding of how those show up in the workplace. Our employee resource group supporting the LGBTQIA+ community at Red Ventures, Venture Out, helped to scale this resource so that all employees had the opportunity to review the training, ask questions, and more deeply understand why it is important to use inclusive language, pronouns and avoid identity assumptions.
Additionally, we are committed to supporting the LGBTQIA+ through our benefits, which include coverage and support for everything from family planning to the decision to transition. By being more deliberate in understanding the LGBTQIA+ community and their needs, we hope to create an environment in which all employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves.
How do you monitor and measure these types of sentiments among your team? How does this data help inform your people strategies?
Each year we send out a survey to all employees. We’re able to review this data on a variety of identity factors so we can understand perceptions of inclusion, belonging and equity for specific communities. This data shapes how we continue to support, elevate, and advance diverse communities at Red Ventures, including the LGBTQIA+ community. Most recently, we leveraged the results to create mentorship programs, additional employee resource groups, and training opportunities at all levels.
We hope to create an environment in which all employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves.”
What are some direct ways your company celebrates or supports the LGBTQIA+ community?
We have an employee resource group to serve as a place to advance and elevate the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community at RV. Additionally, we sponsor Pride events, participate in parades and celebrations, and provide employees with additional access to their local Pride activities. My personal favorite example of how we celebrate this community is the “RV Love Letters” on our corporate blog, which highlights employees’ stories about love and coming out across the LGBTQIA+ community.