When you hear the term “training and development,” your first thought is likely about going to a class regarding the improvement of a technical skill, such as a system or process, or a soft skill, like leadership or public speaking. At MJH, our associates have access to LinkedIn Learning, which houses over 10,000 videos and courses on a wide variety of topics; LinkedIn Learners can learn how to play guitar, create a pivot table in Excel, or develop almost any other skill. As a training specialist, I am constantly looking to help associates strengthen both hard and soft skills, but we don’t have to stop there. Each month, the MJH training team hosts learning challenges to help broaden our associates’ horizons. The thing I like most about these challenges is the fact that they encourage associates to watch videos on topics they may not have considered researching before.
In honor of June’s recognition as Pride Month, this month’s learning challenge focuses on themes of diversity, equity, and inclusion, including unconscious bias, being an ally, fostering inclusivity, and other topics specific to the LGBTQ+ community. While I encourage all my fellow MJH colleagues to complete the learning challenge, and for those outside of our organization to find alternative educational resources, I wanted to highlight a few takeaways I learned while watching the different lessons.
What is covering? Covering is hiding or downplaying a part of yourself related to a stigmatized identity at work. People cover many things, such as appearance, affiliations, advocacy, and associations. Someone who covers at work is filtering their identity, which can take a lot of their time and energy. Those who are covering are basically doing double the work; they work their actual job and work to cover part of their identity while at their job.
Here are some questions to consider: How do you cover? What do you filter out? When someone asks you about your weekend, do you keep it vague and only share information that you think won’t upset the status quo? Do you alter your speech or appearance?
If you aren’t covering, think about those around you. It is likely that someone or multiple people you work with are covering.
What are microaggressions? Microaggressions are verbal and nonverbal behavioral or environmental acts of disrespect targeting people perceived to have less power. These actions can be intentional or unintentional and can be subtle or obvious. Some examples of microaggressions include misgendering, using the wrong pronouns for someone, using offensive language, invalidating families of the LGBTQ+ community, and excluding colleagues from social activities.
We can all do our part to interrupt microaggressions by using these 4 steps:
- Before doing anything, be sure you are safe from harm.
- Make the invisible visible. Ask the other person what they mean by their comment or action; they may not even be aware it is a microaggression.
- Educate those around you. Help inform the other person why what they said or did was a microaggression and ways they can avoid the same mistake in the future.
- Be patient. Change cannot happen overnight, but each step we take means progress.
What is allyship and how can I become an ally? An ally is someone who openly commits to supporting other people who may feel underrepresented or marginalized. Anyone can be an ally, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc. Allies are more likely to be heard when advocating for diversity and have the power to transform the lives of individuals they meet.
Here are a few ways to be an ally:
- Get to know and understand the issues.
- Speak to LGBTQ+ colleagues about their experiences and try to understand the challenges they face.
- Ask questions if you are worried about saying or doing the wrong thing.
- Avoid assumptions about people and think about the language you use (e.g., say “partner” rather than “husband/wife”).
- Listen for cues from others who may want to open up to you. Be open to being their confidant and respect that they chose you.
You may be asking: why should I be an ally? Not only is allyship the right thing to do, but it leads to personal growth and provides you with allies should you need them.
These are just a few of the lessons presented in our June LinkedIn Learning Challenge and there are plenty of other videos on LinkedIn Learning. In the workplace, there are countless opportunities to create a positive and inclusive environment. I know I am going to commit to creating an inclusive and welcoming onboarding process for our new associates. It may feel overwhelming at first; you might not know where to start, but just remember that even starting small is better than doing nothing. Many individuals making small adjustments to their behavior can make a huge difference and change the workplace culture for the better.