Author and diversity trainer Dr. David Hall will be in Philadelphia next week to give employees and employers in the area tools to make their workplaces more LGBT-friendly.
Hall will host “Allies at Work,” a free session from 1:30-5 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Philadelphia office of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, 110 N. 8th St., Suite 501.
Hall, a native of Philadelphia who now lives in Bucks County, offers training sessions on LGBT issues, as well as other areas like sexual harassment and bullying prevention, for both workplaces and schools, having worked with such clients as JP MorganChase, the U.S. Department of Energy and Merck.
A college professor, Hall was recently named the runner-up for the 2010 Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network Educator of the Year.
Hall’s upcoming training session will be based on his 2009 book, “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender-Inclusive Work Environment,” which he says grew out of his work with students as the advisor to a gay-straight alliance.
“My work started with high-school students and, at the time, I had this laser focus on the students and wasn’t really thinking about workplace equality. But one of my former students graduated college and started sending me e-mails saying, ‘I don’t want to go back in the closet, what profession do you think I can go into now?’” Hall said. “And originally I was thinking of writing a book about addressing LGBT issues in schools, but I was told there was no market for that. So I thought another good approach to working on creating a safe environment would be to focus on the workplace and what work needs to be done there.”
A hostile work environment toward LGBT employees can have myriad consequences, Hall described, which can be more pervasive and permanent than even the loss of a job.
“When it’s difficult to be out at work, it keeps people from bringing their whole self to the workplace. Even with all the pain and isolation of the closet, it’s still there for so many people. Some people can manage to be out and it works, but for many others they feel they need to stay in the closet, because coming out creates this vulnerability that people want to avoid.”
The session is open to LGBTs, allies and employers, who will together examine the challenges of coming out in the workplace, look at the current state of the workplace for LGBT employees in Pennsylvania and learn practices that can be undertaken to engage workplace allies in creating an LGBT-inclusive environment.
Hall noted that the lack of both federal and statewide LGBT employment protections for Pennsylvanians further highlights the need for new approaches to promoting workplace equality, which he said area companies are increasingly embracing.
“Even with solid majorities of the country in favor, Congress can’t get ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] passed, and in the state we have our own struggles with getting a state version passed. But the most receptive audience we’ve found to these sessions is employers. Most Fortune 500 companies provide their own training, but there are only so many of them in the Philadelphia area; there are a lot of big businesses just below that level that don’t necessarily get evaluated by the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index but that are still interested in learning how to change the culture at their company.”