Editor's note: June is Pride month. Each week, we're featuring one of our Pride Affinity Network members who are sharing their own stories. This week’s post is written by Tia Benton, Principal Design Engineer – RVAC.
In 2019, I was in the audience at the Inclusion & Diversity Summit when it was announced that GEA, for the second year in a row, had earned the title of “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.”
By the cheers alone, I knew this was a huge deal, but the magnitude of such an achievement did not immediately resonate with me. #CEI2019 and @HRC, which were shown above on the screen, were not something that I was familiar with, so I grabbed my phone to Google and clicked on every link available.
HRC, or Human Rights Campaign, “works to create a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.” At that moment, amidst the chaos and excitement happening in the auditorium around me, I froze.
I could feel my throat begin to harden and tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about what the alternative to “full members of society” meant.
I became a PRIDE Ally that day – both at work and in life. I pledged to myself that I would take an active stance to deepen my understanding of LGBTQ+-related issues and committed to supporting LGBTQ+ identified people throughout all walks of life.
Today, I am a member of the PRIDE Affinity Network’s leadership team and serve as Co-Chair for the Learning & Development subcommittee.
When the time came to update the company’s transition guidelines – essentially taking the old GE policy and incorporating recent learnings and best-practices to better suit GE Appliances, a Haier company, I jumped at the opportunity.
Transgender men and women can suffer discrimination (and sometimes violence and hate crimes) in various aspects of their lives, including employment or housing.
Discrimination may be as blatant as denial of access to a workplace restroom, or it may be more subtle, such as disapproving glances and unwelcome comments from coworkers.
For some, a transgender person will make the change to the other gender while employed, and the change may or may not include medical or surgical procedures.
Gender transition is a major life event that impacts both the employee and the company, and our updated Gender Transition Toolkit will be available later this year to assist employees, managers, and HR representatives during every phase of transition.
Additional information on gender transition or how you can support a member of the LGBTQ+ community can be found on the HRC website, https://www.hrc.org/.
Finally, I encourage all GEA employees to become a member of the PRIDE Affinity Network and join the email distribution list at firstname.lastname@example.org.