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Growing up, I never thought I’d be able to bring my whole self to work.
As I moved from high school, through college, and into my early career, I thought being ‘out’ at work would mean I would get different treatment from co-workers, bosses, and potential clients. I never imagined being able to have a photo of my partner on my desk, be vocal about my weekend plans with her, or go to company-supported LGBTQ+ related conferences and events.
As a young professional, I’ve found there are three key ways to empower employees to bring their whole selves to work and continue to develop them throughout their career journey.
It Starts at the Beginning
My first experience realizing that bringing my whole self to work wasn’t just a dream, but could be a reality, was at my university’s event called “Queers Making Careers.” I met so many alumni who are proud and out at work, and who are successful in a variety of fields. Two of those alumni were from Publicis Health agencies. These open-minded, queer-identified individuals shared their professional experiences working for a company that has diversity and inclusion as a core organizational value.
When I knew there was a group of professionals from my community who openly stood in solidarity with me and made me feel welcomed, it piqued my interest in Publicis Health.
Development of queer leaders begins by going where they are and bringing them through the door through inclusive cultures, but you have to keep and engage them there as well.
Establish Business Resource Groups
Business Resource Groups (BRGs) are one form of employee engagement. After joining Publicis Health Media in Philadelphia, two of my co-workers introduced me to “Égalité,” Publicis Groupe’s BRG for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies. Beyond building workplace acceptance, Egalite also organizes events and development opportunities around their four key pillars: education, community outreach and retention, advocacy and business development. I don’t speak French, but I knew from the beginning Égalité was for me.
The Égalité BRG was engaging, fostered belonging, and provided an opportunity to be involved in something I feel passionate about while also providing a leadership development opportunity. I now serve on the board for the Philadelphia chapter! Being on the board allows me to engage people across Groupe, gives me a voice, and empowers me to amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ employees and their allies throughout the Publicis family of agencies.
This year, my focus as a board member is to continue the development of queer leaders by growing the Égalité internship program to demonstrate to students who, like me, thought they wouldn’t ever feel comfortable bringing themselves to work.
Égalité allows people to feel included as their most authentic and true self in the workplace. Having BRGs in your company, and in the cities across your network can attract employees, engage them and their allies, create safe spaces, and provide leadership development opportunities.
While my company’s engagement at my university’s queer career fair piqued my interest, and the inclusive culture drew me in, the opportunity to make an impact through a business resource group that fosters belonging is one of the key reasons I’m proud to stay.
Keep the Momentum Going
BRGs are only one way to keep the momentum going once you’ve brought queer leaders into your organization. There are many ways to continue driving employee engagement.
Last Fall I attended the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, an annual event focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace. Sponsored by Publicis Groupe, as well as other big names like Disney, Apple, and Boeing, the conference was a unique professional development opportunity that also exposed me to Publicis Groupe employees from across agencies and around the country.
The conference listed many ways companies can engage and empower employees to bring their whole selves to work. The first step they shared was looking at your organization and identifying “who is at your table?” and “who is leveraging the benefits?” To keep and then retain employees, an anonymous survey looking at why people are not out at work can provide insights into areas for potential growth.
Another way to drive momentum is to work with HR to rethink your benefits program and educational opportunities. These conversations can advantageous for current and future employees and could include transgender health benefits, LGBTQ+ parental benefits, and educational sessions for parents of queer youth.
If you want to attract and retain diverse talent, you have to take a holistic approach, and it matters beyond getting people in the door.
Starting at the beginning by reaching out to the queer community, creating BRGs that drive engagement, and continuing the momentum through engagement surveys, professional development opportunities, and benefits programs are crucial to cultivating an inclusive and engaged talent pool.
It’s worth the effort too—it is proven that 60% of employees who are not comfortable being out, or feel confident to “bring their whole self to work” show less productivity than those who are out.
Bring It All Together
Development of queer leaders begins by having an intentional approach and going where they are. It continues by creating groups like BRGs that allow them to find belonging and use their voice, and it’s perpetuated by keeping the momentum going and continuously identifying opportunities to improve.
Diversity is counting heads. Inclusion is making heads count.
Miranda Krause (she/her or they/them) started her career in the summer of 2017 as an SEO Content Strategy Intern at PHM, before becoming a full-time Associate Account Manager in February 2018. During her time at PHM she has gained experience working across a variety of health and wellness, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic brands across HCP- and patient-targeted websites.
She is a board member of the Philadelphia chapter of Égalité, Publicis Groupe’s business resource group for LGBTQ+ employees and their allies. Through this role she drives internal awareness and external partnerships with local LGBTQ+ community organizations.
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Culture + Talent