Judy Ireland is a native of Waterloo Iowa where she attended Central High School and subsequently matriculated at the University of Northern Iowa for a degree in English. She later attended the University of Miami where she earned a master’s of science in management of technology.
In addition to her work at GE, Ireland has been an active member of the Bi, Lesbian, and Straight Together (BLAST) Meet-Up group since 2009. She is a published poet, and an adjunct professor of writing at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, so her special interests with BLAST are the writing groups and book groups.
Ireland has worked for GE Healthcare in Jupiter for ten years as a product manager responsible for the company’s growth in the national biomedical asset management and service business.
She is not only out at work, she’s an organizer in the work being done by the LGBT employees support group, The GE Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Straight Allies Alliance (GLBTA Alliance) http://www.ge.com/company/culture/people/glbt_alliance.html.
South Florida Gay News caught up with Ireland to learn more about her efforts for diversity at this major U.S. company.
SFGN - When was the GLBTA Alliance started?
The group was started about ten years ago, in the business in which I work – GE Healthcare. Today, there are more than 400 members in GE Healthcare, and more than 2,000 members across GE.
SFGN - Did you start it?
No, it was started by three employees who wanted to build a professional development network for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.
SFGN - How long have you been involved with the group?
Almost since its founding. I became a member right away, and then held leadership positions at the business level, and global level. I am still an active member and a hub leader for my employee group in Jupiter.
SFGN - How long have you been involved with equality for LGBT employees?
I’ve been working toward inclusion for LGBT employees throughout my entire (almost 30-year) working life, on an individual basis as a coworker and manager, and in my roles with employee groups. I think it’s so important for employees to be able to bring their whole selves to work, and I think companies benefit greatly in terms of productivity and growth through diversity.
SFGN - What programs/benefits does GE provide?
GE provides a wide range of benefits to all employees, and has had a written policy and domestic partnership benefits for many years. What’s even more important, though, is that GE fosters a day-to-day climate of inclusion that makes it a great employer for LGBT men and women.
SFGN - What do you see as the greatest impact the group has on your company?
The GE GLBTA Alliance is open to all employees and provides professional development opportunities to its members which helps GE attract and retain some of the most talented people in the world. That’s huge, for any company, anywhere.
SFGN - What do you see as the greatest impact you have had on the group and/or the company?
My being free to be “out” as a lesbian within GE is key to the welcoming atmosphere that GE creates for all people who come to work within its businesses. My ability to contribute, combined with the contributions of the many others who have led and are leading the Alliance, have been illustrative of GE’s commitment to developing employees professionally. We come to work every day knowing that what matters is how good we are at what we do. It’s very motivating to us, to know that we can be who we are as LGBT people, that our energies can be focused on our goals and the company’s goals, and that our achievements and rewards are based on the value of our work.