Move Past a “Check the Box” Approach
and Create a More Inclusive Workplace
If you’re looking to move beyond a “check the box” approach to LGBTQ inclusion and create a more inclusive workplace, you won’t want to miss this important episode of Asking For a Friend.
Tammy Cravit is a data engineer, friend, and advocate for LGBTQ inclusion.
In this interview, Tammy shares candid insights and practical approaches for “seeing beyond the label” and building a more inclusive workplace one human being at a time.
How do we move LGBTQ Inclusion from a “Check the Box” exercise to an integrated part of our culture? #AskingForaFriend
More on Tammy Cravit and her Journey as a Transgender Woman and Inclusive Workplace Role Model
In 2016 I received this amazing note from Tammy Cravit on her journey of authenticity and inclusion. This email exchange led to a series of important and meaningful conversations on authenticity and LGBTQ inclusion. Those conversations sparked an important friendship. And, ultimately we were able to work together as we brought a leadership development program to her company.
An Excerpt from Tammy’s Important Letter
Here’s an excerpt (shared with her permission):
“I just finished reading Winning Well (it’d been on my Amazon pre-orders list for more than a month, and I devoured it as soon as it arrived) and wanted to reach out to thank you and David for a fantastic book.
Your book made explicit a lot of things I’ve been doing intuitively and highlighted some places I can step up and do even better. I’m super excited to put those things into practice and to continue to grow my leadership skills as a result.
I also wanted to share with you my story about the power of authenticity and vulnerability, because I truly believe it is the key to everything I have achieved in my career in the last few years.
A bit about me: I am presently managing a technical team of what are essentially technically oriented project managers (and she shares her very powerful work history and accomplishments.)
I am also a transgender woman, who transitioned while living in Silicon Valley 17 years ago, during the peak of the dot-com boom.
During the years my ex-spouse and I ran our consulting company together, I never talked about my past or my transition with anyone save a few close friends. My ex was scared it would cost us the respect of our clients and, ultimately, their business. It turned out that most of them knew anyway – and, as in your story in your book, it turned out that I’d damaged their faith in me and their trust in our relationship by hiding who I was.
The Power of Authenticity and an Inclusive Workplace
When my ex and I divorced in 2012, I vowed not to make that mistake again.
And, in fact, in my subsequent job search, I made the decision that I was going to be up-front and honest about all of my life experiences and how the lessons I learned from them – compassion, tenacity, determination – made me who I am.
If a company wanted to look at all that I had to offer and then not hire me because I am transgender, I reasoned, that was a sure sign that it was the wrong company for me.
The final of five interviews for my first role at my current company was with the CEO and co-founder. “He likes to talk about our Core Values,” the recruiter had told me, so when I came into the office I’d already reviewed and thought about those Core Values.
“So, tell me why you want to work here,” he asked me, and I just started talking.
I talked about my experience as a transgender woman and the obstacles I’d overcome to becoming my true and most fully realized self.
I talked about the myriad changes happening in my life at that time – 2013 was the year I divorced, moved to a new city for a new job, turned 40, and saw my adopted daughter turn 18 and move out on her own.
I talked about my personal core values and where I saw alignment with my company’s core values.
In all, I probably talked for about 35 minutes.
At the end of that time, the CEO looked at me from the other side of a small round conference table in his office. “I’ve scheduled an hour for our interview,” he told me, “and I’d like to spend the rest of the time getting to know you better.
But I have to tell you, you’re the most interesting person who’s walked into my office this week, and you have to come work here.”
He still says that his conversation with me is the most memorable job interview he’s ever done.
Authenticity and Career Success
As a result of my willingness to be authentic I’ve built relationships all over my company, I’ve been promoted twice in three years and have the respect of my leadership, my peers, the folks who I serve as a manager, and other employees all over the company.
And as a result of that, I’m able to keep achieving the results I do, for my team, for the company, and for myself. (One example: after 17 years of waiting, I finally had gender confirmation surgery last year – and, again, thanks to my willingness to engage in authentic dialogue, my company covered the cost on their health insurance.)
Authenticity is the key to relationship-building, I think, and relationship-building has been my superpower career-wise.
Anyway, since you talked at some length about authenticity in your book, I wanted to reach out to share a bit of my story, and to say thanks again for a terrific book. I really enjoyed it, and it’s definitely given me some new ways to think about what I do as a manager.”
Do you have a personal experience of the power of an inclusive workplace? What are your best practices for fostering genuine inclusion of LGBTQ employees?