Before we get to our IDEA articles on Supporting the Coming Out Process at Work and Supporting Colleagues that Stutter there are a few announcements we would like to convey.
Let's start with some good news - CCDI Consulting is very pleased to announce that we have been recognized as a Canadian HR Reporter Best Places to Work 2022. This means a great deal to us because our employees are surveyed as part of the selection process. We appreciate that our people think we are among the best places to work.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it is with some sadness that we bid "farewell", to our respected founder and CEO, Michael Bach. Effective November 15, 2022, Michael will be leaving CCDI Consulting. We want to thank Michael for his service, and we wish him every success in life. While we search for someone to fill Michael's shoes, our COO, Zakeana Reid, has been appointed Interim CEO. Zakeana joined CCDI Consulting in 2016 and was appointed COO in January 2019.
As always, we hope that you enjoy reading our articles. We encourage you to share this newsletter with colleagues. If you have any feedback or comments for us, please write to us at Communications@CCDIConsulting.ca.
Director, Marketing and Communications
Supporting the Coming Out Process at Work
By: Mackenzie Pudwell
Coming out can be a hard and extremely slow process, especially in a professional setting. I remember at one of my first office jobs, it took me around two years to come out in the workplace. (Yes, it was and is a privilege that I could come out eventually, but it was a scary and emotionally taxing navigation nonetheless).
Coming out was difficult for me, not because of the staff – they were some of the loveliest individuals I had ever met. Rather, it was because there were many small moments that made it uncomfortable for me to come out, and a part of me wanted that comfort and ease of staying closeted in my professional image.
Brief comments made by colleagues, like ‘I don’t know what all the letters mean in that ridiculously long acronym’ or asking about my relationship status and “dating bio”, to see if I would be a good fit for their sons, nephews, cousins, etc. made it harder for me to come out at work. I also noticed that my colleagues would also not participate in queer-led initiatives at work and were unaware of organization-wide promotions of such events. All these small fumbles, assumptions, and disengagements with 2SLGBTQI+ initiatives built up, making me more hesitant to take that first step in coming out.
My story contains just a few examples of uncomfortable scenarios that can occur in the workplace. There are many other positive and negative coming-out experiences that have coloured my life, and the lives of other 2SLGBTQI+ members. These experiences combine to create our realities in the coming out process and greatly affect people’s decisions to come out at work.
- Do not assume you know everyone’s dimensions of diversity.
We should always strive to be respectful, but it is also important to remember that we are only human, and we can make mistakes. When it comes to someone’s gender and sexuality, remember that many dimensions of diversity are invisible.
This means that we should not make assumptions about an individual’s gender, sexuality, or assumed partners. When engaging in personal discussions with colleagues, it is also important to be mindful and respectful in our commentary, as some topics may be triggering or have a more significant impact on some people than on others. Being mindful of these ever-evolving dimensions is an important tool for office allies.
- Be diligent in asking and using personal pronouns.
As humans, we are always evolving – and this may also be true for the way that we choose to identify. Do not be afraid to ask someone what their pronouns are – and ask everyone! But also keep in mind that these things can change. Pronouns can be updated. New partners may have different pronouns. And policies like dress codes may affect people differently, depending on where they are in their journey.
- Do not rely on the 2SLGBTQI+ community to educate you – do your own research.
It is not the job nor the responsibility of your coworkers to educate you on inclusion, diversity, equity, or accessibility (IDEA) IDEA topics. And that includes queer folks! If you are unsure of the meanings of the letters in the acronym 2SLGBTQI+, or how to ask for a person’s pronouns, the difference between gender terms and sex terms etc. it is up to you to do the work.
Take a class. Read a few articles. Attend an event featuring 2SLGBTQI+ members. There is no shortage of resources available to support your own knowledge and development. Knowledge is power, and a great step in allyship is removing the burden of teaching others the language and boundaries of appropriateness for the 2SLGBTQI+ community, especially for those that are still in the early stages of the coming out process and may not have all the answers.
- Instill and clarify your safe space values.
Everyone deserves to come to work authentically and to feel safe while doing so. Being a builder of safe spaces is a powerful thing. Utilizing inclusive language, sharing your own pronouns, clarifying your boundaries on sharing personal information, and not pressuring others to share details that they may not feel comfortable disclosing – are all components of acting in allyship and creating safe spaces. And this does not only apply to members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, but to individuals who may be experiencing changes in their life. Being a truly safe, respectful person gives others a person to reach out to and reminds them that they aren’t alone.
- Promote inclusive language and 2SLSGBTQI+ initiatives.
Ensuring your organization includes equity-deserving groups in inclusive initiatives is a vital part of any IDEA journey. But these equity-deserving groups, including those who identify as 2SLGBTQI+, should not always be the ones who are responsible for getting the ball rolling.
Developing pathways of access for these groups, so they aren’t always having to ask for accommodations or pathways to navigate barriers, is huge. It could be as simple as having a Pride flag on your office door, to notify anyone coming into your office that you, and your organization, are committed to the inclusion and safety of 2SLGBTQI+ individuals.
What’s more – integrating inclusive practices and policies such as gender-accessible restrooms and dress codes, or tip sheets on how non-binary folks may navigate the benefits programs or parental leave at your company, or discussing whether your team should implement pronouns on your email signatures – these are all very practical and tangible ways to create an inclusive space.
The crutch of all of this is helping build an accessible and safe space to welcome your 2SLGBTQI+ colleagues to show up authentically at work. A safe environment is essential in supporting the coming out process of your colleagues and should always be your first step. Coming out is a scary, labour-intensive experience for many people. Reducing the emotional labour that they may have in the workplace by creating a knowledgeable and safe space is the basis of supporting your 2SLGBTQI+ colleagues on their journey.
By: External Contributor, Puneet Singhal, Founder of Ssstart
International Stuttering Awareness Day, or International Stammering Awareness Day, (ISAD) is an annual celebration which takes place on October 22nd. The objective of this day is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by those who stutter.
Stuttering, or stammering, is a communication disorder in which the flow of speech is broken by repetitions, prolongations, or abnormal stoppages of sounds and syllables. Speech may also be accompanied by unusual facial or body movements. While stuttering is common, there are many misconceptions about it. Here are a few tips to support your colleagues who stutter.
- There are variously internal and external factors that can affect one’s stutter.
The appearance and severity of an individual’s stutter may be exacerbated due to fear, anxiety, or stress, but it may also be genetic. Additionally, stuttering symptoms may vary between different people and under different circumstances.
- Stuttering does not indicate a lack of skill or intellectual competence.
Their stutter also does not indicate a lack of drive to be successful. People who stutter are capable of excelling in all fields, roles, and levels.
- An occasional stutter is not the same as a diagnosis of stuttering.
When speaking with individuals who stutter, saying something like, “I stutter occasionally too”, while perhaps well-intentioned, can undermine or minimize the struggle experienced by someone with a stutter.
- Individuals who stutter can still communicate effectively.
Communication does not only involve speech but also requires listening and active engagement between a speaker and their audience. When communicating with a stutterer, be open and patient with them, even though it may take some time. And do not assume you know what they will say or try to finish their sentences if they get stuck.
- Create an inclusive workplace culture, based on mutual respect and ethical literacy.
Individuals who stutter are more likely to succeed, and to be willing to take risks when they feel supported, included, and are without the fear of judgement.
An inclusive workplace for individuals who stutter can look like: having zero-tolerance policies for bullying; providing options and/or alternative ways of showing up (for example, having their camera off during a virtual meeting, or using the chat feature to share their feedback, rather than having to speak out loud); and not speaking over them or taking over, if they are stuttering.
Creating an inclusive workplace culture that promotes authenticity and is based on mutual respect and ethical literacy is essential to ensure that everyone on your team feels included, valued, and encouraged to be themselves and to do their best work.
Beyond the tips shared above, there are a number of ways you can support your colleagues who stutter. Taking the time to educate yourself about stuttering and implementing best practices to support those who stutter are just the tip of the iceberg.
About Ssstart: Based in New Delhi, Ssstart is a center that gives hope to revive the warmth in human communication through exciting and engaging workshops, activities, and events. We provide interactive spaces for people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds to be free, vulnerable, and patient human beings. Our main goal at Ssstart is to create authentic communicators who convey their message thoroughly and balance speaking and listening effectively. For more information about Ssstart, visit ssstart.org.