At the start of fall, SpotX launched a company-wide focus on employee well-being and mental health to help combat burnout, stress, and anxiety. Our eight-week Fall Well-Being Campaign included multiple sessions focusing on mental health solutions. As we stepped back and assessed employee needs through a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens, we asked ourselves: how can an employee have strong mental health if they don’t feel included, respected, and understood in their workplace?
Looking back at our previous educational events, we realized we needed to provide more direct, explicit support for our LGBTQ+ employees and community members. Our goal is to create a more welcoming, affirming work environment in which employees feel they can safely share or express their gender identity, including their personal pronouns.
To help provide a stronger foundation of LQBTQ+ knowledge across our company, we partnered with One Colorado to host a Transgender Education series. Marv Allen, Health Equity and Training Director at One Colorado, led our trainings and spoke about why educating our employees and combating discrimination in the workplace is so important:
“We know that LGBTQ Coloradans experience anxiety and depression diagnoses at rates three times higher than the general public. This is largely caused by discrimination and harassment faced by members of our community. We also know that while transgender and nonbinary Coloradans have higher educational attainment than the general population and their lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer peers, transgender and nonbinary Coloradans are also more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. Again, this is due in large part to discrimination.”
Our three-part series focused on language and terminology, pronouns, and how to build an inclusive workplace. At the start of each session, we established (or built upon) group agreements that would allow us to talk openly, honestly, and respectfully, as we learned and grew together. With agreements including “assume positive intent,” “replace judgment with curiosity,” and “show appreciation for those that are here and trying,” we were able to create a safe and judgment-free experience from the beginning.
On the positive impact these trainings will have on our employees, Marv shared:
“Having LGBTQ+ inclusivity and diversity trainings will decrease instances of discrimination, provide people with language to talk about issues that come up, establish a safe space to bring those issues up, and educate your staff on how everyone can support your LGBTQ+ colleagues and customers.”
Emily Moore, Marketing Manager, Events & Experiences, attended all three sessions and shared why she felt the series was important to our employees and how it can help bring about necessary change at our company:
“The transgender education series represented a powerful opportunity to speak to sensitive, vulnerable, and absolutely essential topics in a safe space. Though the main focus was on transgender education, there were opportunities to touch on intersectional discussions about striving for equity for other underrepresented identities. It is so important that we at SpotX look at these issues holistically if we want to accomplish meaningful change. I believe this becomes achievable if we continue to work with highly informed facilitators like Marv to provide education at all levels of the company.”
In our third session, our employees worked together on ways we could build an inclusive environment by normalizing the terminology and language we learned and increasing the use of pronoun visibility at SpotX. Our brainstorming session discussed including pronouns on job applications, asking interviewers to share their pronouns in conversations with prospective employees, and displaying pronouns next to an employee’s Slack username.
David Spiro, Product Marketing Manager, participated in each session, asking questions to better understand terminology and ways he could support his colleagues and friends:
“I’ve always prided myself as someone who takes other people’s feelings into account and is sensitive to people different from me. The transgender class showed me there was more I needed to learn. I now understand the importance of adding pronouns to my profiles, so others feel more comfortable sharing theirs. And Marv shared some other tips that will, honestly, make me a better, more understanding person. It was an important class and I’m glad I participated.”
SpotX is committed to creating an environment in which all our employees can safely and fully express their gender identity. These transgender training sessions are part of our company’s internal knowledge base and we plan to reintroduce them throughout the next year, encouraging employees to watch (or rewatch) each session, and share additional ideas on how to build a more inclusive environment at SpotX.
Kirsten Rice (she/her) is the Employee Experience Specialist at SpotX, overseeing internal events, initiatives, and programs to create a culture that SpotX employees are proud to be a part of. In her free time, she loves breweries, bowling, sporting events, and traveling back to the East Coast to see her nieces and nephews.