‘Meet the Board’ – Glenda Childress

Glenda is EQUAL!’s Treasurer and former Co-President, as well as the Columbus, OH Chapter representative. Get to know her, as part of our ‘Meet the Board’ series!

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

I have traveled so much for work that I feel that I have been to all of my top countries. However, I would LOVE to return to Greece, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, and Ireland. I don’t know if I will make any of those trips, but it is so fun to remember the great things I saw and was able to do there.

What sport do you practice?

For over 30 years I have ridden Dressage – this is an equine sport that you’ll find in the Olympics, however, you won’t find me there. I enjoy Dressage because no matter how much I train, I learn something new everyday. I own several horses and my greatest riding partner is named September. He was imported from Germany to the states and I love him dearly.

What job or task do you believe you have had your greatest impact at ALU?

During my years as Director in mobility, I had a large team at three locations and I feel that those were my years of greatest impact. Being able to work with a highly motivated and generally very happy team was rewarding for me personally. Being open, honest, approachable and clear in my expectations seemed to have a very positive impact with my department.

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

I started many years ago with the founding organization LEAGUE. I got involved with the then struggling organization as people were trying to obtain corporate recognition. It angered me how co-workers and corporate were responding as LGBT folks were trying to organize. I was at a great point in my career, was promotable, very well thought of, and I decided that I could risk being public about my support and challenging upper management. This was one of the best decisions of my life – and – career.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

Although I saw these many years ago, I can still remember laughing so loudly at Ghostbusters that people were turning their heads and looking at me my date. And as for crying, The Color Purple had me and a friend sobbing. And we couldn’t stop. His partner got up and moved away from us.

 

‘Meet the Board’ – Thierry Hochart

Thierry is EQUAL’s co-president and a member of the At Large chapter, based in Paris, France. Get to know him as part of our new ‘Meet the Board’ series!

What country is on the top of your list to visit? 

There are none which are really at the top of a list for the simple reason I don’t maintain a list and I like to travel where ever that is… That said, there are a number of trips I sometimes think about: driving through US Route 66, Roadtrip accross California and Australia “a-la-Priscilla”, Moroccan Desert Walk & Meditation, Trekking in Myanmar and Northern Thailand, Discovering North Korea and also travelling back in South East Asia with my spouse who has never gone to Asia yet, though I’m not sure it’s a good idea to go back to places I kept great memories of…

What is your link to LGBT?

Besides my job at ALU and my role in EQUAL!, I’m also actively involved in a French NGO by the name of CONTACT – the equivalent of the American PFLAG – whose role is to support parents of LGBT children to understand and accept their children the way they are, as well helping LGBT people who are not sure about themselves and do not know how to talk about their “difference” with their parents, and sometimes help them when this situation causes family troubles. Thanks of this involvement, I have a number of close friends who are LGBT or parents of LGBT. Oh and also my spouse is gay.

What job or task do you believe you have had your greatest impact at ALU?

I would think this was in the frame of contract negotiations with a customer in South East Asia back in the early 2000s. At the time, I was tendering manager and we were a rather small team, from tendering and sales organizations, very focused on this opportunity. We spent several weeks together in-country interacting with the customer on a daily basis until the final contract signature. This was a great experience and i was very fortunate to be part of it.

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

Before the merger, I had gone through a tedious coming out process at work, with a few selected colleagues. Because this started when I was working in Kuala Lumpur, it was making the process a bit harder as this topic was sensitive in Malaysia, a muslim country which is condemning homosexuality. When I came back in France, the company was going through the merger and soon after it, I discovered EQUAL! and from the start I thought it was great to have a (virtual) place to discuss and interact with people which had this particularity in common. And because this was volunteer-based, I wanted to contribute in making sure this network would remain active and known for those who feel isolated or who might need it.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

I don’t remember very well the story, but i remember very well how shocked I was during the movie “Dancer in the Dark”. Honestly I can easily cry when watching a movie or even TV series, but then I was crying and suffering so much that I wanted to leave the theater. Finally I stayed till the end, but it was really painful.

On a brighter note, I’d say I laughed the most with “Little Miss Sunshine”. I’m an easy spectator but rarely laugh, I usually smile and laugh only inside my head… For this movie, I was laughing for real and the whole theater room was doing the same. I watched the movie on DVD afterwards and I still had lots of fun watching the movie. If you have not watched it yet, you should give it a try !!

And since I started giving advice, you might also want to watch “Modern Family”, a very funny american TV-series. A really good TV show!

World AIDS Day 2011

 What is World AIDS Day?

December 1st is World AIDS Day – a call for a spirit of social tolerance and a greater exchange of information on HIV/AIDS. Established by the World Health Organization in 1988, World AIDS Day serves to focus global attention on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, bringing messages of compassion, hope, solidarity & understanding about AIDS to every country in the world.

Observed annually on December 1, a range of activities are organized during the weeks and days before and after the official commemoration. It is a day designed to encourage public support for and development of programs to prevent the spread of HIV infection and to provide education and awareness of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.

World AIDS Day Events at Alcatel-Lucent

This year the following Alcatel-Lucent’s Employee Business Partners are partnering together to host World AIDS Day events at Alcatel-Lucent.

  • EQUAL! (Supporting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Employees and Their Friends and Family)
  • ABLE (Leaders of African Descent)
  • IDEAL (Individuals Dedicated to Enabling Accessibility in Life)
  • LUNA (United Native Americans at Alcatel-Lucent)
  • HISPA (Hispanic Association of Alcatel-Lucent Employees)
  • WLN Chicagoland Chapter (Women’s Leadership Network – Chicagoland Chapter)

The following events will be held in Alcatel-Lucent on this occasion:

  • Status of the global HIV/AIDS day epidemic on Dec. 1st by Kristin M. Hartsaw, Case Management Supervisor, DuPage County Health Department in Illinois
  • World Holiday Bake Sale Fundraiser in Naperville on Nov. 30th in Alcatel-Lucent’s premises to raise funds for the  Annual EQUAL! Holiday Stocking Drive for the HIV/AIDS clients of the Open Door Clinic in Aurora and Elgin Illinois. Stop by to purchase cookies, cupcakes, cakes, fruit baskest, and nut baskets. More details on the stocking drive will be available soon!

We also invite everyone to light a candle at home on that day, wear a red ribbon throughout the day and/or participate in other local World AIDS Day events scheduled in your community.

The Red Ribbon Project

 

The red ribbon is a symbol of hope. Wear it to show your commitment to the fight against AIDS; it unifies the many voices seeking a meaningful response to the AIDS epidemic, serves as a constant reminder of the many people suffering as a result of this disease, and of the many people working toward a cure – a day without AIDS.

More Information

(images courtesy of worldaidsday.org)

National Coming Out Day 2011

Tuesday, October 11th is National Coming Out Day (NCOD) 2011. NCOD is a day when lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their allies are encouraged to take the next step in coming out of the closet or increasing awareness.

In observance of NCOD, EQUAL! invites you to participate in the following on-line educational events at any time:

  • Ally View of Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy
  • Coming Out Stories at Alcatel-Lucent
  • LGBT webcast classes (LGBT 101, LGBT 201, Creating a Safe Work Environment for LGBT Staff)

ALU Employees: go to Engage for additional information.

(photo courtesy of the Human Rights Campaign)

Being out at work: it’s also getting better

by Glenda Childress

In the July-August 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, the article ‘For LGBT Workers, Being “Out” Brings Advantages‘ presents some facts on the status of LGBT in the workplace. With an estimated 7 Million LGBT working in the U.S. private sector, 29 states say it is legal to fire someone for being gay.  On the bright side, 85% of Fortune 500 companies have protective policies that address sexual orientation—up from 51% in 2000. Additional analysis from this article is presented by one of the authors on the HBR blog, The Cost of Closeted Employees.

Workers are receiving mixed messages from corporations on the safety of being out at work and nearly half of LGBT remain closeted at work out of a fear that their career will suffer. Closeted employees spend energy and time at work hiding their identities and often are isolated from their colleagues. LGBT employees have the same talent, career goals, and aspirations as other employees.

What do you think about these articles and the implication for corporations and employees?

Freedom to Love – made in Singapore!

A week ago, on June 18th, Singaporeans stood united for the ‘Freedom to Love’ for the fourth year running. Ten thousand of them – all dressed in pink – and all celebrating diversity in the Lion City!

Having lived in Singapore several years ago, I was so thrilled to see the support shown by the families & friends of the Singaporean LGBT community. It wasn’t just an LGBT movement: it was much more than that – and I think that’s just amazing to see things are changing for the better.

Of course the situation isn’t perfect: consensual sex between men is still illegal under Singapore law, although it’s been years the government hasn’t enforced it. The official stance is just to keep the status quo; but many are hoping for this to change.

Kudos to the PinkDot.sg organizers, participants, supporters… It’s so inspiring to see such great demonstrations in Asia.

EQUAL! doesn’t have members (yet) in Singapore, but we have been steadily growing our membership in other Asian countries (in China and Thailand) – and we’re all for supporting other LGBT organizations, so get in touch with us to see how we can try and get involved!

(and if you haven’t checked it out yet, watch the great video the PinkDot organizers shared to raise awareness on this event!)

Jerome – for the EQUAL! team

LGBT Awareness Month 2011 (updated)

June is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Awareness Month. EQUAL! is planning activities to celebrate the contributions of the LGBT communities and raise awareness of the issues faced both within and outside the workplace that impact the lives of employees, friends or family members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

Events during the month will include live events and webcast presentations. All employees are invited to attend.

The following activities are planned:

  • Live events & webcasts (live events from Naperville, Murray Hill & Velizy)
  • Icon guessing game
  • LGBT webcast classes (LGBT 101, LGBT 201, Creating a Safe Work Environment for LGBT Staff, Transgender 101)

Detailed schedule can be found on the internal pages.

May 17th: International Day Against HOmophobia 2011 (IDAHO)

On May 17th 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses. Although homosexuality was decriminalized in many countries since the 80s, this day was chosen as a universal symbol for the fight against homophobia, later it was extended to also include transphobia.

This annual celebration started in Canada in 2003, and began developing on an international scale in 2005 under the impulse of Louis-Georges Tin, a French University lecturer and writer of the “Dictionary of Homophobia”, being then renamed “IDAHO – International Day Against HOmophobia”.

Growing every year with events in more countries and with official recognition from more countries, IDAHO helped bring to the United Nations general assembly a declaration signed by over 60 countries in 2008, asking for world-wide decriminalization of homosexuality, at a time when over 70 U.N. members still outlawed homosexuality, 6 of which can condemn it by death (more details on rights by country here). A new declaration was presented in March 2011 still asking for decriminalization and supported by the signature of 86 U.N. members.

Though generally not as popular as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride walks, IDAHO became very significant in many countries with a number of events that are hosted around this day, from discussions to conferences.

After this somewhat long introduction, although you understood there was a link with sexual orientation and gender identity, you might still wonder what is behind these weird words: “Homophobia” and “Transphobia”… Since these two words are covering very different concepts, we’ll start with “Homophobia” and offer more content on the other one at a later stage.

First of all, the etymology of the word… like many other phobias (agoraphobia, technophobia, xenophobia…), homophobia is composed of phobia (φοβία, Greek for irrational fear’) and also homoios (όμοιος, Greek for same). The word appeared in the late 60s, but was only frequently used from the 80s.

To define the word, we can say that homophobia includes a number of feelings and behaviors towards homosexual people – or people perceived as homosexual – with consequences ranging from discrimination to violence, be it verbal or physical.

  • Discriminations may include refusing a job, a rental, a service or anything else on the basis of perceived non-heterosexual orientation of the person.
  • Unequal treatments in terms of social benefits and recognition of dependants at work, or slower career developments on the same basis are also discriminations.
  • These discriminations are forbidden in most western countries although some remain in force, when they are not perceived as such by the ruling majority. However, discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation is still a common practice in many others, where gay and lesbian people tend to hide their sexual orientation to avoid being discriminated.
  • Verbal violence naturally includes harassment and all the insults we hear on a daily basis in the streets, public transportation, stadium… but it also consists of insinuations against perceived homosexuals (weakness, femininity, sickness, and any other stereotypes you can imagine for gay men, and their equivalent for lesbian women).
  • Physical violence can be institutionalized, as we mentioned homosexual people can be sent to jail, beaten or even killed in a number of countries, only on the basis of their sexual orientation! And in countries where this is not the case, there are still a lot of attacks against them, in the streets, in high schools, and sometimes in families where parents do not accept their child as homosexual…

Now you might wonder how relevant this is for Alcatel-Lucent. As a matter of fact, it is usually accepted that LGBT population represents between 5% and 10% of the overall population. have very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds are from all ethnic origins, are working in any sort of companies, including in Alcatel-Lucent.  Alcatel-Lucent’s Global Human Rights policy clearly states that [they] prohibit discrimination against any employee or job applicant on the basis of age; disability; race; sex; color; religion; creed; national origin; citizenship; sexual orientation; gender identity, characteristics or expression; marital status; covered veteran status; or any other protected class and will treat everyone with dignity and with full respect for their private lives.

Unlike ethnic or gender diversity, LGBT diversity is tricky to handle due to its “invisible” characteristic. Indeed, when you meet new colleagues, or even for colleagues you’ve known for years, you have no way to know for sure if he/she is LGBT until the person tells it! As a consequence, if you don’t want to risk insulting a colleague and/or a friend, you’d better show respect to everyone, including those people who are heterosexual who might have LGBT relatives and friends who could then be offended by a negative remark.

To support LGBT individuals, and help the company to be more inclusive and respectful towards LGBT individuals, EQUAL! – an employee resource group animated by volunteering employees to support LGBT employees and their friends and families at Alcatel-Lucent – is offering classes on basics related to LGBT issues and also classes for team managers to better handle situations that could be sensitive in that perspective. These classes and many more events/discussions are proposed during the LGBT Awareness Month in June. Events during the month will include live events and webcast presentations. All employees are invited to attend (see the content of the activities).

Thanks for your attention… and have a great “IDAHO”!

Becoming an EQUAL! member is free and easy, open to any employee who is supportive of EQUAL! objectives (LGBT employees and non-LGBT employees are welcome)… Simply contact one of EQUAL! officers or go to EQUAL! membership page (internal).

Video project to support equality for LGBT people

Some of you may have read about the “It gets better” project which was initiated last fall after a number of suicide among young students in the USA. Those suicides were following bullying attitudes towards LGBT and questionning youth.

Several thousands of videos have been created by individuals to show their support against bullying, from people like you and me up to President Obama and many other members of his staff. They can be seen here.

Other projects have taken off since then, one of them being “We give a damn” which mainly consists in rallying straight allies to show their support towards equality for LGBT people: http://www.wegiveadamn.org/

More recently, a similar project started off in France and it’s called “Projet Entourage LGBT“. It is rather similar to “We give a damn” where straight supporters are witnessing their support for equality, with a french touch as current videos have all been in French language so far: http://www.projet-entourage.org/

If you’ve been involved in any of this project by posting a video (or several), it would be great that you send a link so we can gather those videos and make an event out of them, for example during the coming LGBT Awareness Month – next June.

Thanks!

(photo by Michael Verhoef under Creative Commons licence)


Becoming an EQUAL! member is free and easy, open to any employee who is supportive of EQUAL! objectives (LGBT employees and non-LGBT employees are welcome)… Simply contact one of EQUAL! officers (http://alu.tl/21k) or go to EQUAL! membership page (http://alu.tl/21l)