Why – Book, Show, Consulting
People are divided about many things – politics, race, religion, sexuality, gender expression, race and ethnicity, immigration, economics and more. Yet, despite these sharp divisions in views and beliefs, society has become more open and accepting of diversity. Most large companies and organizations have made public commitments to Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Over 80% of Fortune 500 companies include Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in their US Non-Discrimination policies. Over 600 companies earned perfect scores on the HRC Corporate Equality Index! What do we do when some employees have attitudes towards equality that are incongruous or in conflict with the company?
Ten or twenty years ago, many LGBT people could not be “out” about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. If their employer or co-workers knew of their sexuality or gender identification, they might (and often did) lose their jobs. Employees often hid and suppressed their true selves to keep their employment. What was the cost to the person and the company while they were hiding in plain sight? What was the cost for an employee to never share personal information about their family and relationships? The simple act of putting a picture of your spouse or partner on your desk could lead to public shaming and loss of your job.
Fortunately, this situation has become rare in the United States and many Western countries in recent years. LGBT people can be “out” and even celebrated in public and in the workplace without fear of retribution by the company.
A similar situation exists, however, for people that might be racist, anti-LGBT, misogynist, or against one group or another. If, for example your company has LGBT inclusion initiatives for customers, employees and suppliers, and you are anti-LGBT, your personal views would be out of sync with your employer. If you speak out against LGBT people, participate in anti-gay advocacy groups, post your views on social media or so on, if found out by your company, you could lose your job.
What is the difference between an LGBT person being fired when they are discovered and an anti-LGBT person being fired for their views? Practically, both situations lead to anger, frustration, a toxic environment and a culture of secrecy – what some may call hiding and suppressing. Both are costly to companies that recruited, hired, on-boarded, trained and gave experience to valuable workers when the company must now terminate their employment.
What can an organization do to improve the situation? How can we help people change or adapt their views? Some of these views may be culturally and religiously based. For some people, it may be difficult to change long-held beliefs. How can people work together? Educating people, setting policies, and sharing facts rather than opinions may help, but I have found that personalizing the discussion and using humor may be more effective. And we must enable people to respectfully talk about their views and concerns without fear.
If it is difficult or even impossible to change someone’s views and beliefs, how can we help them be more happy and productive at work? Perhaps a more pragmatic approach can help. People can learn to work together in a productive and supportive environment.
The Show and Consulting
Left-Hander in London – The Earthquake is a one-woman show filled with stories, sarcastic humor and songs. JJ shares her experiences as a spouse, parent, grandparent, business owner, consultant, transgender woman and LGBT advocate. Her experiences are personal to her, but relatable to many. She uses her fun and casual style to help people learn to Enjoy Diversity rather than have the need to understand or judge.
JJ suggests a phased approach for companies and organizations looking to improve their culture and performance:
Assessment – Understand company culture, variation between locations and departments, learn about Diversity and Inclusion initiatives and policies, and analyze implementation into the culture and across levels.
Left-Hander in London – The Earthquake - Perform the show for executives, managers and employees. The show can be more effective than traditional workshops and education because it is unique, fun and interactive.
Facilitated discussion – JJ and GEI consultants can facilitate discussion about people’s ideas, company policies, culture and reaction to the show. Participation is encouraged and a variety of facilitation methods can be used.
Planning for the future – May include additional shows, workshops, vision and plan development and more. Companies can develop a plan to make Diversity and Inclusion initiatives important contributors to improved customer service and profitability.
JJ’s company, GEI Inc. is a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise and the first LGBT owned company in Indiana and the first transgender owned firm to be certified.
Other Diversity Consulting Services
Increased diversity in organizations is creating interpersonal challenges that some companies are ill equipped to handle. Many respected companies have formal diversity initiatives including IBM, Wells Fargo, Merck, Ernst & Young, ING, Kodak, and American Airlines to name just a few. In order to maintain a productive workforce, keep morale high, and avoid lawsuits arising from lack of understanding, organizations are promoting respect and understanding of a diverse population.
Diversity training is provided with the purpose of problem solving, treating diversity as an opportunity, and promoting the ability of members from a great variety of backgrounds to cooperate productively and to contribute to an organization's goals. As a certified LGBTBE and member of the NGLCC (National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce), GEI, Inc. offers services to organizations seeking diversity consulting:
Diversity Strategy Development – Through skilled facilitation, GEI, Inc. consultants can help an organization develop a strategy and plan, and initiate changes that can transform the cultural climate of an organization.
Diversity Training – Our experienced facilitators can train employees on how to interact with diverse employees, professional and acceptable behavior in the workplace, and create communication strategies for clients and customers. Our trainers facilitate train-the-trainer, employee training, and customized sessions. Our consultants know how to break down barriers, using truthful examples that allow for real dialogue to begin.
Supply Chain Consulting – GEI, Inc. can help organizations develop and improve suppliers, develop a supplier strategy, and set-up a supplier diversity initiative.
Transgender Consulting – If an employee transitions, we can educate organizations on how to cope with the changes and challenges that are presented. Our consultants can help an organization with the legal, administrative, medical, and social issues that arise as it pertains to the workplace.
If your organization is looking to develop a diversity strategy, train employees, build or improve a diverse supplier strategy, or educate employees on transgender issues, GEI, Inc. has the resources and experience needed to help your business. Our consultants are professional, knowledgeable, and understand what is needed in today’s business climate. Let us help your organization make a real change.
Entertaining, Education and Diversity Consulting
A Unique Approach
Most companies and organizations have made the public commitment to embrace diversity with their customers, workforce and suppliers. Implementation of these ideals varies by the organization as well as within organizations. Problems arise when individuals do not agree with nor accept the organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion (D & I). Many organizations are committed to D & I, but are not realizing the bottom line benefits possible through a commitment to diversity.
Ten or twenty years ago, companies might fire LGBT people when they discovered the truth about the employee. This caused some employees to hide and suppress their true selves and cost the company because they had to replace experienced, productive workers that they had recruited, on-boarded and trained. Fortunately, this practice is becoming extinct because of organizational commitments to D & I. Most companies and organizations now embrace and support LGBT people. A more recent, but similar problem however relates to workers that are not comfortable with the organizational position on diversity. If someone does not want to work with or associate with a certain minority or with LGBT people, their personal views are often incongruous with acceptable behavior for the company. Discrimination is bad for business. If you are a worker that discriminates for any reason, eventually you will have to hide or change your personal feelings to stay in the organization.
It is important to support these people - either by helping them evolve their views, or at least by finding a balance where they can be comfortable in the environment at work.
JJ wrote a book, Left-Hander in London: A Field Guide to Transgenders, Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals - In the Family, On the Job and In the Pew and a show, Left-Hander in London - The Earthquake to help people understand diversity and to personalize the discussion. JJ uses music and humor in her show to spread the message to Enjoy Diversity rather than needing to understand, explain or judge. Deeply personal views are not changed by logical arguments. They may change based on human interaction, personalizing the discussion and through humor. JJ does the show with a tongue-in-cheek style and uses sarcasm to share her experiences. JJ prefers to make people laugh rather than “preaching" or attacking anyone. If someone that attends the show leaves with a few ideas to consider, or even questions some of their own views, then we will have made progress.
Not doing anything is unacceptable. Companies, schools, colleges, churches, and organizations should not discourage discussion, but rather encourage and help people work through their concerns and problems.
The show is edgy and thought provoking. She talks about beliefs and experiences from her personal perspective. JJ was raised in a religious, ethnic family, attended Catholic grade school, high school and earned her Masters Degree from a Catholic University. She is transgender, so she has some understanding of both males and females. She has been married for over 40 years and has children and grandchildren. JJ is an advocate and was president of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce for several years, so she is familiar with people from many backgrounds and experiences.
People that are minorities themselves, people that are LGBT and allies will enjoy the stories and jokes and quickly identify with JJ’s message. It is critical, however for her to perform for a mixed audience including people that might be on the fence regarding diversity and people that are not accepting, and even hostile to LGBT people. If everyone can laugh - at least a little, learn about another person’s viewpoint, and see how we connect rather than only how we are different, then we are making progress.
The show is approximately sixty minutes long including music and original songs. JJ can adjust the time up or down for specific needs. JJ would like to work with organizations interested in improving culture to tailor the material to their needs and culture. She is comfortable being controversial, but uses sarcasm and humor to help people rather than attacking or criticizing.
JJ uses the show to facilitate discussion and to create a safe space where people can discuss diversity topics and their personal views. JJ can follow the show with questions and answers, team building exercises or discussion so people can get more information, share their perceptions, voice agreements and disagreements and gauge reaction from co-workers.
Much of the fun is in the delivery and JJ’s unique experience and style. Sarcasm and nuance are better in person than on paper, but we hope you get a sense of the show, through this description.
There are three original songs in the show:
I Am so Happy, I Don’t Have the Blues:
“The Bathroom Song” When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go original and a live versions:
JJ also sings a lullaby for her grandchildren. It isn’t recorded it yet, but she plans to post soon.
JJ would be happy to discuss with anyone that might be interested. This show is a good way to help improve how we work together, how we live with each other and our society in general. It is certainly more fun than a speech! JJ is very comfortable answering questions and discussing diversity with people. It is healthy and productive for people to share their opinions and views. JJ has been blessed with a sense of humor to be able to disarm people when they might be angry and help people see from a different perspective. JJ has over 30 years of consulting experience, working with many industries and many types of companies – from small family owned firms to Fortune 50 corporations.
Options on how to use JJ’s show and consulting experience:
See the show. JJ can perform for general audiences, groups, businesses, organizations and more.
Cultural and Operations Assessment (1 to 4 days) – short project to understand current D & I initiatives, culture, operations and environment. Report to top management/leadership with findings and recommendations.
Show – Use the show to have fun, open minds, encourage discussion and questions.
Facilitated discussion after the show. Questions and answers about the show content. Use tools and experience to encourage discussion and continued conversation.
Develop plan and implement as needed.
Other training and workshops
Review corporate or organizational policies
Incorporate new programs into existing structure.
Other TBD as needed
Schools and Churches
Develop custom programs and approach using the show for education.
Why Work With JJ and GEI?
JJ has been a consultant for over 30 years, so she is skilled and experienced helping people and companies change for the good. She has worked in many and varied situations and environments and with many types of companies – from small firms to Fortune 500 companies. GEI consultants have assessed cultures and operations in many firms, quickly gaining an understanding of the culture, business and environment.
Implementing effective Diversity and Inclusion initiative that help the company’s operations and contribute to the bottom line can be difficult, especially when an employee’s personal beliefs are not in synch with the corporate direction. JJ and the GEI consultants can pragmatically work with people do help improve the work environment and build a culture where people can be more comfortable at work.
IBIS Consulting, Inc.
International Precision Components Corporation
Jasper Engines and Transmissions
Kindel Furniture Company
Rolls Royce Corporation
SGL Carbon, LLC
State of Maryland
Synergistic Software Solutions
Yorktown Precision Technologies
Zimmer Custom-Made Packaging
GEI has worked with a variety of companies including:
30 Minute Mall Corporation
Bald Spot Sports
Bohn Aluminum Corporation
CSM Research, Inc.
Electrolux Home Products
Encore Capital Group, Inc.
Fibers of Kalamazoo
Ford Motor Company
Ford Tier 1 & Tier 2 Suppliers
Garage Doors of Indianapolis