As a diversity consultant with a deep expertise in LGBTQ diversity, I have often heard of young transgender activist and media superstar Janet Mock, but had never seen her. Therefore, I was thrilled with our North Carolina Society of Human Resource Management Conference planning committee for scheduling Mock as this year’s North Carolina kickoff keynote speaker. And the timing was perfect as more transgender people are becoming visible in our workplaces and as North Carolina continues to struggle with the negative impacts of our horrific anti-trans, anti-gay HB2 bill. (See my recent blog on the five impacts of HB2 at goqnotes.com/47800/.)
Mock’s talk and her gracious telling of her personal story truly helped raise the awareness of what transgender lives are really about. I heard so many attendees exclaim that they were very moved and learned so much from her keynote. Particularly poignant was her vulnerability in sharing her personal story, including how she totally lived as a woman in graduate school and early career before even disclosing she was transgender.
Some of Mock’s key points included:
• Human resource professionals need to take the lead in embracing the differences of others, building coalitions across differences, building a culture where differences are valued … this can be a huge strategic business advantage.
• In our ever-increasing, multi-cultural world, being different is becoming “the new normal.” More people are embracing their difference instead of minimizing their differences to blend in.
• As a black, female, native-Hawaiian transgender millenial, Mock shared that she cannot fit into “one box” — which often happens in identifying someone’s diversity. Many people now incorporate several aspects of diversity and difference.
• Transgender individuals often have very difficult lives as they are thrown out of their homes, end up unemployed and on the streets and in prison.
• Issues are so often not addressed because people are afraid of differences. Instead one should ask “who is not in the room” and create a space where there can be open dialogue among a diverse set of people.
• Human resource professionals should invest time in reading and learning about people living in their “other-ness.”
I join many others in thanking Mock for making her first trip to North Carolina during a time when our state laws are unwelcoming to and creating a hostile environment for transgender people.
Take the test
Take the Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer 12-question organizational transgender awareness self-assessment at bit.ly/2fhtQNC to gauge your organization’s transgender inclusiveness.
About Janet Mock
Janet Mock is the New York Times best-selling author of “Redefining Realness” and the host of “So POPular!” — a weekly MSNBC digital series about culture. One of Oprah’s “Supersoul 100,” she is a sought-after speaker and the founder of #GirlsLikeUs, a social media project that empowers transgender women. Since 2011, she has become an influential media transgender woman and millennial leader.
info: Stan Kimer, Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, is a Raleigh, N.C.-based business consultant who provides corporate and organizational training on a wide range of diversity topics including transgender diversity.