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In the corporate world

INCH BY INCH. Educator Krin Zook works with children's aid societies, but has been making inroads with the police, too. Credit: Joshua Meles

Corporations are slowly catching on to the need for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) training and policies within the workplace.

At Ernst And Young, a global firm best known for its tax and corporate finance services, they’ve recently created beyond — yes, that odd capitalization is intended to draw attention to the E and Y — for queers and their allies.

Ernst And Young was the first of the top four professional services firms to receive a 100 rating from the US-based Human Rights Campaign in their annual Corporate Equality Index which rates companies on their commitment to queer issues in the workplace.

“There are so many organizations that are trying to get started; where do they go and how do they make investments in LGBT issues?” asks Bruce Goudy, a partner with E&Y and Canadian leader of bEYond. “You can find piecemeal things. We thought, ‘Let’s get together and share best practices, so that there are resources readily available for people.'”

E&Y brought together other 100 HRC-rated companies including Xerox, Prudential, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, to create a template for other companies looking to become more inclusive. The result was the creation of a report entitled Making It Real, which they distributed at a conference in mid-September.

The report lists the top 10 ideas for creating a more inclusive and welcoming workplace. They include:

– Leading by example; CEOs and top management should be involved

– Adding A for ally to the LGBT acronym, so supportive straight employees feel included

– Shifting from a language of diversity to a language of inclusiveness, make it about “us” not “them.”

Goudy says the key to an inclusive climate is what you do on a day-to-day basis.

“We want people to put their energies into achieving results and career goals rather than worrying about someone finding out who [they are],” says Goudy.

At E&Y, each office develops tools and activities that work best for them, including informal and formal networking (that includes not only staff but clients and the LGBT community outside of the office), education and training, social activities and policies.

Goudy says that it is also important for a company to have a broad anti-discrimination policy.

“It’s not just, ‘Here’s what you can’t do,'” he says. “We have a value statement that talks about respect for each other at work and valuing our differences, respect for people at work.”