Last week the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBT Chamber of Commerce hosted a first of its kind, Diversity in the Workplace event, at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale.
One workshop included a panel with speakers from TD Bank, Northwestern Bank, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Gina Duncan from Equality Florida.
Keith Blackburn, the event organizer, said, “They talked about some success stories and how it was sort of a win-win when you when you include everyone in the community in your company, and your policies, and things like that.”
The all day event began at 9:30 a.m. and was divided into different sections, starting with some networking before moving into two sessions about inclusion taught by Equality Florida.
The previous year, GFLGLCC hosted a similar event focused on Transgender inclusion called “Trans-forming the Workplace.” Then, it was just a panel after work, but this workshop included much more and allowed people to connect with each other as well.
“I thought we should do an all day event. So when you do something like this it is a challenge to get people who are able to take a day off of work and basically the entire day and dedicate to this,” he said.
The main goal of the event is to educate employers on what exactly they are, how to treat LGBT people with respect, and what questions to ask and which to avoid. And Blackburn feels that this training and education is especially relevant with today’s politics.
“I think in a lot of ways that the business community has always been a leader,” he said. “I mean before the government or before the Supreme Court ruled on same sex marriage, leading companies, corporations offered benefits to same sex partners and things like that."
One aspect that he said many people seemed to connect to was the personal story of one woman in attendance who spoke about her transgender child.
“It put a human face on it for the people attending which was nice," Blackburn said.
According to Blackburn, there might be things for people to fear regarding religious freedom rulings and laws and the rights of the LGBT community, but it’s his hope that business can lead the way into protecting them.
The event hosted representatives from 29 different companies and Blackburn said that more said they wanted to attend, but had planned their vacations during this time.
The GFLGLCCsaid they’re planning on doing another Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace workshop next year around early September.