Empowering the LGBTQ+ Community at KLAS - Cover

Empowering the LGBTQ+ Community at KLAS

Full-time employees typically spend almost a third of their lives at work. We may spend more time with our coworkers than we do sleeping or with our families. With that in mind, KLAS wants to create a work environment where employees feel safe enough to bring their whole selves to work. Obviously, we all have to be productive and do our jobs, but hopefully, everyone feels welcome and supported.

Our History

Last June, a coworker reached out to me and asked whether I would like to start an LGBTQ+ employee resource group at KLAS. My answer was a wholehearted yes. As that group came together, it was determined that I had the passion and the bandwidth to lead the group. 

At the time, we were onboarding a new HR representative, Matt Giacalone, and he was 100% supportive of our desire to form this group. He brought with him knowledge and experience about Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and helped us mold the LGBTQ+ group after the ERG model. The LGBTQ+ group was the one of the first ERGs to be launched at KLAS and helped start a movement that would blossom into five different ERGs covering a range of topics.

Our first official meeting was in August 2021, and the room was packed. In fact, about a one-tenth of the company immediately joined the group as either members of the community or allies. I was amazed and moved to see so much interest in and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Our Mission

One of our first tasks was to create a mission statement for the group to unify our purpose. Our mission statement is as follows:

The LGBTQ+ resource group’s purpose is to provide a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and allies to associate and to, as a group, generate and consider ideas and recommendations for actions to help KLAS become a more inclusive and welcoming workplace for the LGBTQ+ community and other underrepresented groups.

The LGBTQ+ ERG stands as a place where people can come together and feel comfortable being themselves. It is also a place for people to ask questions and learn. More broadly, it is a vehicle for improving the KLAS community and finding opportunities to serve.

In every monthly meeting, we discuss a short historical lessons or current events related to the LGBTQ+ community. We have also organized service projects for that community. For example, last year, we wrote supportive letters to anonymous members of a group of LGBTQ+ young adults. In addition to our monthly ERG meetings, we have an LGBTQ+ media discussion group. In the media group, people pick various media representations of the LGBTQ+ community, whether that be a short film or a podcast or something else, for everyone to discuss. It is wonderful to have such deep, meaningful, sometimes awkward and unusual, and sometimes fun conversations at work.

Our Impact

It has been powerful for me and other members of the ERG to see the support that the LGBTQ+ ERG gets from our CEO, president, and other members of the executive team. Recently, KLAS held a company-wide training on diversity and inclusion with two guest speakers from Equality Utah. The entire second half of the training focused on educating employees about the LGBTQ+ community. 

That training and the mere existence of our group at KLAS has provided me and other members of the ERG with opportunities to answer questions and have positive, respectful discussions with people about gender identity and sexual orientation. To show their awareness and support of the LGBTQ+ community, many KLAS employees have begun to include their pronouns in their email signatures.

It can be difficult for anyone to be their whole self at work. I feel honored to witness and be a part of the journey KLAS is on to be more inclusive of everyone, including the LGBTQ+ community. I am excited to see the effect that our ERG continues to have as we strive to help everyone feel like they belong.

Photo Credit: golibtolibov, Adobe Stock