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Power in Numbers | Monster

8/4/10 12:55 PM

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Power in Numbers Gay/Lesbian Employee Groups Are Good for Business By Barbara Dozetos, Monster Contributing Writer

One good sign that a prospective employer is gay-friendly is that the company recognizes and sanctions an employee organization for its gay/lesbian employees. The next best thing is an organized group working toward gaining official status from the employer. An employer may turn to this employee group to try to understand how a change in policy may affect the gay/lesbian segment of the company's population. The group can also serve as a resource for the employees wanting a safe place to network and socialize. It can be particularly useful to an employee new to the area or just coming out for the first time. In many cases, the gay/lesbian employee group lobbies the employer for expansion of personnel policies inclusive of the gay/lesbian community. Businesses in the high tech sector have led the way in sponsoring such employee organizations. For example: IBM's EAGLE Lucent Technologies' EQUAL! AT&T's LEAGUE Xerox sponsors GALAXE Pride At Work, and, according to member David Frishkorn, it was management's idea. "They actually opened our closet door and asked us if we wanted to come out," he says. Apparently, after hearing an executive from a Fortune 100 company claim there were no gays/lesbians among his 100,000 employees, Xerox's vice president for human resources saw how important it was for gay/lesbian employees to be vocal and visible. "So she approached our informal social network and asked if we would step forward to get formally recognized as one of the company's official employee resource groups," Frishkorn remembers. A founding cochair of the organization, Frishkorn can't say enough about GALAXE's positive effects. "I believe we have accomplished everything you could hope for relative to our workplace and in working with the company," he says. "We have comprehensive policies, training, outreach marketing, domestic-partner benefits, etc." The highlight was having management reach out to the group again when the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality index was adjusting to be fully inclusive of transgender issues. "The company actually approached us wanting to know what needed to be done to assure our high-level standing in this index," says Frishkorn. "I think it is great that they knew the bar was being raised and that action would be required to stay a leader in this area." And it paid off. Xerox is one of only 13 companies to receive a perfect score on the Index. Organizations for gay/lesbian employees are becoming the norm in most industries now. You'll find them at: Major airlines (American's GLEAM) Automobile manufacturers (Ford GLOBE) Oil companies (Chevron's CLGEA Financial companies (Charles Schwab & Co.) maintains a list of company employee groups and contact information, but don't assume it's comprehensive. If your research doesn't give you the answer, ask during your job interview if such a group exists. If you're already employed somewhere and would like the benefits of a gay/lesbian employee group, the Human Rights Campaign also offers some advice with the article "How to Start an Employee Network Group." The camaraderie can lift your spirits, and you may be surprised by the power of numbers. Related Services: Put your career in high gear with the right degree. Be prepared for your next opportunity with a professionally written resume. Find out what you're worth using our FREE Salary Wizard.

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