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This episode was originally recorded as an Advocacy in Action session and features a conversation between JBC Vice President Adrienne Lawrence and SIGBI CEO & Co-Founder Stacy Lentz.  Discover key strategies for creating inclusive workspaces for LGBTQ+ employees and best practices on how to authentically support colleagues beyond Pride Month. Stacy also reveals details about SIGBI’s new Safe Spaces Certification.

Listen in now, or read on for the transcript of our conversation:

STACY LENTZ: So we really sat down with some of the most marginalized community members in the toughest areas, at least in the United States, that we found to still be LGBTQ. So we partnered with folks in El Paso, Texas, because we wanted to hear what it was like from an immigrant LGBTQ person perspective and El Paso’s right on the border, it’s a border town right between Texas and Mexico. We partnered with an organization in Biloxi, Mississippi, because they don’t even have an LGBTQ center and maybe two bars in the entire state that are LGBTQ that qualify as a safe space. So for them, thinking about what defines a safe space is so vastly different than what I feel as defines a safe space as someone who has that geographical privilege of living in New York, or in LA, or San Francisco.

DOUG FORESTA: The Will To Change is hosted by Jennifer Brown. Jennifer is an award winning entrepreneur, dynamic speaker, best selling author and leadership expert on how organizations must evolve their cultures towards a new, more inclusive workplace reality. She’s a passionate inclusion and equity advocate committed to helping leaders foster healthier and therefore more productive workplaces, ultimately driving innovation and business results. Informed by nearly two decades of consulting to Fortune 500 companies, she and her team advise top companies on building cultures of belonging in times of great upheaval and uncertainty. And now onto the episode. Hello, and welcome back to The Will To Change. This is Doug Foresta. This episode was originally recorded as an advocacy in action session and features a conversation between JBC Vice President, Adrienne Lawrence and Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative co-founder Stacy Lentz, as they discuss key strategies for creating inclusive workspaces for LGTBQ+ employees, as well as best practices on how to authentically support colleagues beyond pride month. As they discuss, with ongoing attempts to erase LGBTQ+ identities and undermine civil rights, it is definitely important to know how to effectively anticipate issues that will emerge in your workplace and create welcoming environments for marginalized identities, and that’s precisely what Adrienne and Stacy talk about in this episode. Of course, all that and more. And now onto the conversation.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Adrienne Lawrence and this is Take Pride and Give Back creating inclusive LGBTQ+ spaces year round. And we are joined by the CEO and co-founder, Stacy Lentz for the Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. And I want to thanks Stacy for joining us. Stacy, if you could please share with our participants a little bit about your organization.

STACY LENTZ: Sure, absolutely. First of all, I’m excited to be here, and especially during pride month. And excited to be partnering with Jennifer Brown Consulting on a safe spaces program that we’re launching, not just here in the US, but also globally. And we’re super excited about, and I’m excited to be here with you all today. The Stonewall and Gives Back Initiative was founded in 2017, really out of the advocacy work that my partners and I, Bill Morgan, Tony DeCicco and Kurt Kelly, who all are co-owners in the Stonewall Inn. We purchased it in 2006, it was going to maybe even be a Starbucks, can you believe that, the Stonewall being a Starbucks? But we all purchased it to want to save history, and really use it as a vehicle to keep that global fight for equality going. That battle began in 1969, right out front of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher street. And for us, forming our own nonprofit to utilize that platform, which is arguably probably the biggest LGBTQ platform in the world, to continue to create change, is something we were all very, very passionate about. So with the Stonewall Gives Back Initiative, we like to say that we’re spreading the Stonewall legacy to the places, faces and spaces that need it the most. And we really work with grassroots activists all across the globe and some of the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ community, and it’s really been quite an honor to have this platform and to be able to use it to create a quality.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Stacy. And also thank you for all of your work and contributions and for partnering with Jennifer Brown Consulting, an opportunity that we will talk about later in our conversation today. But let’s go ahead and get started with why we’re here. I will turn it over to Stacy to talk about the certification requirements and the opportunities to be certified with the Stonewall Gives Back Initiative.

STACY LENTZ: So we really sat down with some of the most marginalized community members in the toughest areas, at least in the United States, that we found to still be LGBTQ. So we partnered with folks in El Paso, Texas, because we wanted to hear what it was like from an immigrant LGBTQ person perspective, and El Paso is a border town right between Texas and Mexico. We partnered with an organization in Biloxi, Mississippi because they don’t even have an LGBTQ center and maybe two bars in the entire state that are LGBTQ that qualify as a safe space. So for them thinking about what defines a safe space is so vastly different than what I feel as defines a safe space as someone who has that geographical privilege of living in New York or in LA or San Francisco.

We also then partnered with folks out in Park City, Utah, for the same reason that you kind of talked about, it becomes religious, right? They’re using religion against us now as well. So we wanted to hear from folks at a Utah pride center about what they thought was a safe space, knowing that a lot of their community members could actually have Mormon upbringing. And then we also partner with folks down in Birmingham, Alabama, Nashville, Tennessee, and Kansas City, Missouri, all for the same reasons of these are some of the most marginalized communities still in 2022. And to your point, those 200 laws that are being targeted right now against our community are coming from those states, those places. So that’s why we wanted to hear from them what makes a safe space.

So in addition to the National Survey, which you discussed some of the findings that we concluded with, we had focus groups with these folks on the ground to say, “What makes a safe space to you? What do you want to see from an organization that throws up a rainbow flag or a corporate rainbow logo in June and says their LGBTQ friendly? What kind of work do you want to have them go through to actually prove that they are LGBTQ friendly?” There’s such a thing as rainbow washing and rainbow capitalism and our community is hyper aware of that, especially during June. So what are these organizations really committed to in terms of the quality? What are they committed to in terms of their LGBTQ employees? And what are they committed to to diversity in general within their organizations?

So that’s why we really said, let’s set up an entire criteria. And what we did is we came across pretty much 10 criteria that we all agreed upon, and in reality it probably doesn’t even go deep enough, but it’s a starting place because I really believe no place is truly safe, especially in the crazy world we live in right now, but this is actually making it safer. And it’s an opportunity, whether it be someone like an AEG, who’s going to go through this training, or a JetBlue or a Brooklyn brewery, or it could just be a mom and pop in Mississippi. We wanted to make it accessible for all organizations, no matter their size and no matter their financial capabilities. So we really said, let’s sit down and have this conversation.

The first part of it was coming up and saying, you need to have a code of conduct, something that you mentioned. A code of conduct that talks about your LGBTQ employees, customers, and what you do to really truly make it a safe space. In addition, you need to have LGBTQ policies and procedures. A lot of organizations have that, but as you mentioned, it’s directed towards different minorities, but it may not be directed towards the LGBTQ community specifically, and that needs to be added.

We ask also then that you go through some form of training, which we’re partnering with JBC to create. And this is really a two 15 minute interactive training that will live on an LMS, so it’s really easy for folks to log on and utilize, you just get an email and a password. And to go through this training, that really talks about the difference between sexuality and gender identity, and really talks about making sure that you’re aware of why we need these safe spaces and how it affects folks in the workplace. So we’re super excited about that training component as well, because we want to make sure we’re not just saying, “Hey, you need to be a safe space, do this and this and this.” We want to give access to resources and training so that companies that want to be a part of this can be a part of this. So that was another issue of the criteria. A fourth issue of the criteria was making sure that you had gender neutral access, gender neutral bathrooms or access on premises to gender neutral bathrooms. We felt like that was a super important thing for our trans and non-binary and gender nonconforming folks. And at least somewhere on the premises, they had a place that they felt safe utilizing the bathroom. We also then said, again, you kind of brought it up, but what are you doing outside of pride to support us? What are you doing the other 11 months out of the year, the other 364 days a year, again, because the LGBTQ community is not just LGBTQ during June. So what are you actually doing the rest of the year to show that commitment?

In addition to this is something that was really, really important, put your money where your mouth is. Again, what are you doing financially to support the community by giving to an LGBTQ nonprofit. The language around this or the safe space criteria, this does not have to be the SIGBI. There’s some other great, incredible, especially grassroots organizations, maybe more local to your community, but we want to make sure that if you’re saying that you believe in equality and you’re a safe space and you need to be committed to that financially as well. So making sure that you are donating to an LGBTQ equality. And another big thing that we wanted to add to this, because of all the laws that are being acted all across the country is making sure that you’re not donating to an anti LGBTQ legislator. We see this a lot.

We see a lot of brands go ahead and they put their whole corporate logo up there in rainbow during June. And then we turn around and they’ve given $200,000 to somebody who wrote an anti-trans bill in Alabama. So that was really important about a safe space. If you really want to say you’re safe and inclusive, then you cannot be funding anti LGBTQ legislators. So that was another really important component of this. And then also vetting your vendors, making sure that some of your closest partners and allies, are also LGBTQ. I’ll give an example. If an organization might have a cafe that has Chick-fil-A in it, we can use them as a prime example, well, then that’s an issue. So really looking at your partners to make sure that they’re not anti LGBTQ. So these are just the basis of some of this criteria.

And also it’ll be getting re-certified every year. And they’ll also be kind of a area where people can report if it’s not safe, because again, if we’re saying your getting actually certified and you’re doing the work, but somebody in our community walks in and they’re misgendered, let’s say we want to know about that. So there’s an area where we can report that it’s not safe. And again, this is not to call an organization out. It’s to have a real conversation. Okay, how can we get better? What can you do better? You need to go back and look at your pronoun policy, because that’s one of the training things as well. What are you doing around pronouns? Don’t have to have a formal policy, but have you have that conversation with your employees to make sure they’re doing it towards their other employees and their customers?

So that’s kind of the basis that we came up with and we’re super excited because no one’s tried to do this on a national scale. A lot of people said, this is really ambitious and we think it is, but we think we’ve got the right partner in Jennifer Brown Consulting to do this. We also feel Stonewall’s the right organization to do this because we are actually considered one of our community’s original safe spaces. Back in 1969, it may be a mafia owned and run, but the reality is one of few places where the LGBTQ community could actually go in and be authentically themselves. And that’s really why the riots started because really our community was fed up with police raiding the only place that they felt like they could truly be themselves during that time period, which led to our modern day LGBTQ rights movement.

So we’re super excited. We’ve got some other community organizations. We built a solid coalition across the country of not just brands and organizations that want to do this. But like I said of community activists on the ground that have given input to this and it’s been challenging, I won’t lie to find that proper balance of what goes too far and what you can do. And like I said, we want to make sure every company can do this without facing some kind of financial, something that’s financially doable for them, I guess. And doesn’t have so many crazy things that they need to change. And we’re super excited about this.

JetBlue is going to be our largest organization rolling this out and they plan to roll it out to all 12,000 of their crew members. So I think it’s really going to be a game changer for our community just to even have this initial conversation around safe spaces and get some of these places certified. And I would imagine year two, year five, year 10, we would be adding even more things that we’d like to see from this, but it’s a great start and we’re super excited about it.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Fantastic. We are very excited as well at Jennifer Brown Consulting to be partnering with you and to have the opportunity to essentially making workplaces more inclusive for everyone across the board. So there’s so much to do and we will first start in doing that with our Q&A session. So I know definitely some of you have been submitting questions via the link in the chat. Please do continue to do so. I definitely have some questions for you directly, Stacy. I will also mention some interesting and it looks so far like it will be very good breaking news that President Biden will be signing an executive order advancing equality for LGBTQIA plus individuals.

And the executive order is going to address discriminatory legislative attacks against queer children and families, protect children from conversion therapy and create initiatives to help queer foster youth. So that is definitely a step in the right direction, but we definitely need to all stand up, step up and work together to make change because again, inclusivity starts with each and every one of us. So let’s go ahead and jump into one of the questions Stacy. So I’d love to know, here you go. What role would you challenge the employee resource groups to take, to respond to anti LGBTQ legislation?

STACY LENTZ: I think it’s really about finding a local organization that you can support in that particular state. For example, if you’re looking at Texas and what’s gone on there, it’s just been horrific. But again, the Rainbow Borderland Center that we’ve worked there does so much for, especially around trans teens in Texas. So I would say to that ERG group is either raise funds or see if you can volunteer within those states with local community activists on the ground, because those are the ones who can affect the local legislator’s process, right?

And also even if you can’t change legislation, what you can do is make them feel like they’re being affirmed. Their state legislators may be saying, Hey, you’re not valued. We don’t think what you have to offer. As an individual, you don’t know what you want. You don’t know what your body is. It’s our chance to say actually you do. It’s okay. Most people find out at a very young age, whether they’re LGBTQ and especially whether they’re trans or not. So have those conversations with local organizations and nonprofits on the ground so you can make sure they feel affirmed even though their state legislators are not making them feel affirmed.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Absolutely. And something that ERGs should be doing is being in touch with the community based on the affinity that they represent. So it should be something that the ERGs are already looking toward. And so creating that partnership is a very powerful way in order to make change. And I’ll also note that what we saw go on in Florida where Disney was making political contributions and investments in members of the GOP in Florida. And then it found itself in a situation where when the GOP in Florida was pushing the legislation of the, Don’t Say Gay bill, that it was not in terms of comporting with what Disney said is its DEI principles. And it also caused the uprising with the employees. And a lot of people lost their trust in Disney.

And so it put Disney in a position where it had to actually step up and align itself with its principles. And now it possibly could lose its charter and all sorts of other things. I bring this up for the fact of that you, as an organization must put actions behind your words. And so if you do have a DEI commitment, you should not be funding things that contravene that. You shouldn’t be in partnerships with organizations that contravene that, because essentially it’s going to blow up in your face without a doubt because you cannot keep the consumers happy as well as certain members of legislature happy and also have a DEI commitment if they don’t all align. So you do have to essentially decide who you want to be and what you want to represent and stick with it, because at the end of the day, all the truth comes to light and all the chaos definitely can come with it.

I’ll also note the next question, can you provide any resources that you pulled when it comes to the anti LGBTQ legislation? And so I will definitely recommend checking out the human rights campaign. Also, I know I’m sure The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative, it’s website has it, but the HRC is definitely on top of all of the legislation that is coming down. And it keeps a lot of research and conducts a lot of research and studies. So going there to that website, it’s going to be invaluable without a doubt.

STACY LENTZ: And I would also add there’s a resource tool that actually tells you, and I can probably pass it out in one of the links. It’s actually going to be on our LMS that we’re building out with Jennifer Brown Consulting and part of our training. It’s a resource at the bottom that tells you every anti LGBTQ legislator. And it tracks them. It tracks the politician state by state in terms of what they’ve done or not done for equality. So it’s a fascinating tool and it’ll be on the LMS that we launch through Safe Spaces, so you can know actually what politicians are doing what within your own state.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Fantastic. Thank you, Stacy. The next question here, how much does it cost and how much time would a business need to invest in order to earn the SIGBI Safe Spaces certification?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah, like I mentioned, we want to make it super cost effective. So it depends on the size of the organization and how many folks are going to put through training. But I think for an organization under 500, it’s $1,000. And then there’s a partial training component. And again, that comes back through SIGBI. So it’s a tax deductible considered a contribution to a nonprofit. And that’s how we set that up, because JBC was so generous to donate their time and their resources to do this. So it will actually be a donation to SIGBI that you make through this. And that’s how much it costs.

As far as time, every employee would have to spend a half an hour to 15 minutes to go through the training. And then as far as doing the uploading of documents to have your code of conduct, to have your resources and things like that, it depends how far along you are in diversity and inclusion if you have to change policies or not, but for a company that’s already typically doing the right things, just to show it, it would probably be about half an hour to 45 minutes of administrator’s time to upload the docs and demonstrate that there are actually a safe space. So again, we wanted to have this not to be too bureaucratic or too time consuming or too costly for an organization, because we want as many businesses to participate in this as possible. And again, start having these conversations around why safe spaces are important.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Fantastic. And who are some of the organizations, the companies, the people leaders who are out there leading the way when it comes to creating safe spaces for the queer community?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah. So right now, we’ve had lots of inquiries and a lot of organizations wanted to go through it. We wanted to beta test with the organizations that have been with us from the beginning. So, for example, that’s AEG and AEG Presents and AEG Global. I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, but they’re probably best known for putting on musical festivals, such as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Coachella. They also own venues like what used to be the Staples Center, which is now called Crypto.com. So really excited because it’s really important that concerts become safe spaces for our community. And I think that’s a really great starting place.

As I mentioned, JetBlue, they’re going to be the largest and first airline to go through this process and are committed to this. Brooklyn Brewery, who’s been a partner with us and some of the hotel partners and Carlsberg, which is their European division is going through this. And then a couple of other of our large soda beverage drinks are looking at this as well, and also Jagermeister, which is another liquor brand. But yes, there’s lots of different, smaller organizations and businesses that want to do this as soon as possible. We just want to beta test it on those that have been with us since the beginning first.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Thank you so much. All right. So interesting question here, as in, I guess, how do you, I guess, align the fact that the rebellion started in fighting back against a lot of the anti LGBTQIA action? And this person says that, that happened to be rooted in capitalism and bringing in these companies that may still have that capitalist motive. I guess, how do you balance those two?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah. And it’s hard and there’s a lot of people in our community that are very anti corporation and a lot of… There’s been coming queer marches across the country that are not allowing corporations in what would be pride marches. So I do understand that, and I think it’s a fine balance. But I think for us, and what we’re trying to do is say, you can have both. So you can have an LGBTQ company or mom and pop or small business or venue or store and make sure it’s a safe space if they’re doing the right thing. So as far as rooted in capitalism, it’s really tricky, but I believe that I would like to take that money and the power and the platform that these organizations have and use it for good.

Sometimes I say I’ve always felt like Robinhood in a weird way, because I get to go out and maybe take some money from what they consider bad corporations and turn them into good organizations and good corporations and give it out to grassroots organizations across the country. So I will take that money all day every day. And I’ll take the conversations around safe spaces all day every day, and try to work and call corporations in instead of calling them out and put that money and invest it back into our community.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yes, I agree with you. And I’ve been in situations in terms of the work that I do in terms of anti-sexual harassment workplaces. I have had organizations that I don’t necessarily align with my belief structure, but asking me to come in and help educate them so that they’re creating an environment that’s less gender policing, less gender harassment. And as much as I didn’t agree with their beliefs, I still saw the opportunity to reach these people and to hopefully create an environment there that is more inclusive. And so knowing that, that is your ultimate in game, if you get to convert some of the bad guys to good guys, why not?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah, I totally agree with that. Yeah. And I think that’s really, really important. And I think sometimes our community as a whole loses that sometimes in conversations, but that’s really, really a key element of this. And if you have that opportunity, I always say the difficult conversations are the ones that really matter. And these are difficult conversations sometimes. So if you can have them and win some people over, and still we need to win hearts and minds just as much as we need to win legislative battles still. So we just got to keep that in mind.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Absolutely. All right. So did the communities that were included in your research mention what individuals can do to help cultivate safe spaces at work?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah, a lot of that. It was fascinating. I’m going to give you an example. I met with a group of teens in Nashville, Tennessee, via Zoom because we had to be safe about it. And it was interesting. Some of them had jobs at 16, 17 year olds that were in stores or retail, hospitality. That’s typical maybe teen summer job. One of the things they really mentioned was absolutely around if I tell you my pronoun at work and you four or five times refuse to call me by my pronoun or dead name me, I do not want to come to work, I do not want to work for you. And that was a big thing. That was one of the biggest things I heard from the younger generation was like it’s okay if you mistake, we all make mistakes if you get the wrong pronoun, okay, sorry, just move on, don’t make it a big deal. But if you keep doing it and refusing to change, that was a big issue.

And I think that’s really it. Listening. They were all about listen. So if I tell you this how I identify, whether you understand that or not, I’m telling you, that’s how I identify. So respect that. So I think it’s about respect both ways and opening up that dialogue and conversation.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Absolutely. And when I educate people in terms of the training, I remind them that you’re not necessarily going to always get it right, but the thing is that you have to try, you have to create space and time for you to exercise greater self-awareness and… Go ahead, Stacy.

STACY LENTZ: Yeah, sorry about that. Yeah. I think it’s more about they wanted to show up authentically as themselves. And that’s really what a lot of them defined as safe space. That’s what I heard over and over again. Safe space is a place where I can authentically be myself without fear of repercussions of any kind, microaggressions, anything where I feel emotionally and physically safe. So if I tell you that, that makes me feel unsafe or I tell you that’s wrong and you disrespect that, that was the number one thing.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yep. And too often are individuals in positions of privilege the ones who want to define whether something is offensive or not. And that is not how it works at all. And so people need to exercise self-awareness, humility, as well as just putting in that effort. Realize that, again, you’re not always going to get it right, but my God, you do need to try. And I am trying every day, especially… I grew up in California. I generally refer to people as a dude, and I do it across the board, no matter what your gender is, but I realize that can come off wrong to someone. One of my colleagues is in the process of transitioning from a man to a woman, and I realize that can strike her in a way where she doesn’t realize that Adrian does this all the time. And so I need to check myself.

And so I do. I work hard at it and I work hard to realize, “Hey, I need to maybe either get that out of my vocabulary or be more mindful when I’m around people. Again, it’s about inclusive activities, as well as just being an inclusive leader, because we are all in control when it comes to DEI and truly being able to be a beacon of hope for inclusivity. And the change is something that we are all in control of. So I definitely encourage everyone to put in that effort. And there’s another question about the SIG V certification. When it comes to receiving a certification, is it something that’s granted on an annual basis and then it expires and you’re re-certified? How does it work?

STACY LENTZ: Yep. So it is on an annual basis and you do have to recertify because again, we just want to make sure that you’re continuing the checks and balances that we’re putting in place and that you’re continuing to train new employees every year that come into the organization. So yes, you do have to recertify. And that was, again, one of the biggest things that our community members and these places said, they said, “Well, we really want it to be, not a watchdog, but making sure that [inaudible 00:29:07] going to be certified as a safe space, they have to recertify every year, and that there is a reporting system that we can report if it’s safe or not safe, just to have that.” Again, we don’t want to necessarily police venues and shops, but we do want to make sure they’re actually safe if we say they are.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Fantastic. Also as well, what do you do when people look to interject their religious beliefs? We recently saw that five players on the Tampa Bay Rays, that they said they weren’t going to wear the rainbow patch, despite the fact that the rest of the team was wearing them for Pride Month, because they said it was counter to their religious beliefs.

STACY LENTZ: And this is really hard because I grew up in a Christian conservative, middle of a cornfield in Kansas. And then here I am in New York being a partner at Stonewall, which seems surreal at times. So for me, I’ve always said, “You can be gay and have God,” but that’s just my personal belief. And so I think when you get into the whole religious aspect, you have to remember that really utilizing that argument is the same utilization that people have used against other people that were different for thousands of years. So I think we’ve got to stop using religion as a tool to divide. And so I don’t think that using that factor and especially in that particular case, I think you have to say that your religion cannot interfere with my right to be a human. And I think that’s really what religion should really be about. It’s really about acceptance of everyone, of every walk of life, of every intersectionality. So I think really, I don’t think there’s room to use that religious argument, but that’s just me.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yes. And I would say that the way I approach it is, is your job something that involves your religion? Is that what your employment is required? And if it’s not, then it’s essentially, it’s not coming into play. And so the job requires that you have and reinforce the DEI commitment. So that’s what’s required of you. And if you don’t feel necessarily that you can do the job, then maybe there’s a better employer out there for you. But at the end of the day, what we need to do is ensure that everyone feels welcomed, valued, respected, and heard. And we don’t do that to the exclusion of others, simply based on our own religious principles. And I too was raised in the church with parochial school and whatnot.

And so to be able to see people use religion as a way to inflict terror or to exclude others is not something that comports with my personal beliefs, nor with my recognition of others’ humanities, nor with what I promised I would do for my employer. So I always very much encourage that employers, really, you can get down to just the basics of what the job asks for when you’re running into some of these complicated questions around people’s different religious beliefs, that it’s not something that should be imposed upon other people in the workplace. All right. So as it concerns, you have a question about military cultures that use things like, “Yes, ma’am.” “Yes, sir.” Any advice for that when it comes to non-binary individuals?

STACY LENTZ: Yeah. That’s super hard. Right? It’s funny. I’m going to speak next week at a Navy organization in Philadelphia. And one of the folks who is hosting the panel is they, she non-binary, and also considers themselves non-binary and trans as well. By the way, you can have multiple identities and a lot of people forget that as well. So that’s really important to mention. So I think that you have to be aware of making sure that those pronouns, again, when I’ve talked to them about this, I’m using them as an example, they will use she at work because that’s even easier than using they in a military sense, because that’s what they’re used to. Yes. Ma’am yes, sir. Those kind of things. So I think it’s a way of doing that.

And when it comes to non-binary, I think it’s going ahead and telling those, again, in the job, or if you’re in the military, what your pronouns are and hoping that they respect and understand that. And whether that’s a, “Yes, you,” a, “Yes, whatever.” I will also say, for example, with JetBlue, when you get on an airplane, you would hear, “Welcome ladies and gentlemen.” We’re changing that. So we’re changing that to, “Welcome everyone.” So I hope, the military is not there, but I hope that they all get to the point where they too use gender neutral language in all offices of the military as well. I know that’s not happening. So you may have to use whatever pronoun you identify with, but that’s one of the things that I would love to see the military do. I think we’re a ways off.

ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Yeah. I think you are right. There are some cultures in the United States where ma’am, sir, is very much reinforced, particularly in the south, and I guess the Midwest as well. And I was raised that way, as my parents were Midwestern. And so one thing I have done is changed it to the person’s title. Yes, boss.


ADRIENNE LAWRENCE: Sometimes it seems to be a bit easier. Or a, “Yes, friend,” whatever can work in that moment, as long as I’m respecting others. So I want to thank you all again, and I hope that you all continue to celebrate Pride and invest in ways to do it year round. Thanks so much and enjoy the rest of your day.

JENNIFER BROWN: Hi, this is Jennifer. Did you know that we offer a full transcript of every podcast episode on my website over at jenniferbrownspeaks.com? You can also subscribe so that you get notified every time a new episode goes live. Head over there now to read my latest thoughts on diversity, inclusion, and the future of work, and discover how we can all be champions of change by bringing our collective voices together and standing up for ourselves and each other.

DOUG FORESTA: You’ve been listening to The Will to Change, uncovering true stories of diversity and inclusion with Jennifer Brown. If you’ve enjoyed the episode, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. To learn more about Jennifer Brown, visit jenniferbrownspeaks.com. Thank you for listening. And we’ll be back next time with a new episode.