June 2021 marks the 51st anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. Hear from Carmen Jandacek, President of the Arizona Public Service (APS) LGBT Alliance, about the current business environment surrounding the LGBTQ+ community.

How do you view the current business environment surrounding the LGBTQ community?

The business community understands that for Arizona to continue to be economically successful into the future, we need communities and businesses to be open and welcoming to everyone.  Employees want to relocate to communities that are inclusive and work for companies that share those same values. It has been shown repeatedly that diverse and inclusive organizations are more financially successful. Also, customers vote with their wallet.  In the age of information, I make sure, as a customer, that my money is spent with companies that demonstrate inclusive and diverse practices for their employees.

How has being a member of the LGBTQ community shaped your lens of the workplace?

I see daily, the power of diversity and inclusion at the decision table.  We must constantly question ourselves if we have the right people at the table that can really inform and interrogate the problem we are looking to solve.  I see my role at work twofold: one to do my job; and secondly to ensure I am being an advocate for LGBTQ employees and customers to ensure we continually grow our visibility and impact.

How can businesses be more inclusive in the workplace?  What needs to change?

The most important action employers can take to ensure employees have a great workplace experience is to create workplace inclusion.  Employees need to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work — when an organization demonstrates inclusive practices, it allows for that critical component of the employee experience.

What can individuals do to better understand the challenges of the LGBTQ community and foster a more inclusive environment?

Listen, learn, repeat.  Do not underestimate the power of listening and learning sessions.  This will build cultural competence and understanding. Also, provide ways to reverse mentor.  We always assume our leadership just “knows” or “understands all.”  Pairing a member from the LGBTQ community with a leader can help those leaders become better culture carriers for the organization.

What community resources do you recommend for businesses to support the LGBTQ Community and why?

There are so many different organizations doing great work in the Phoenix LGBTQ community.  Support Phoenix Pride and showcase your inclusion by having your organization walk in the annual pride parade.  Invite Angela Hughey from One Community to coffee and she will share the work her organization is doing to make Arizona a better and more inclusive state.  Equality Arizona also is working very hard in various forums for the LGBTQ community.  One n Ten, an organization very dear to my heart, serves the LGBTQ youth of our valley and ensures they have a bright and resilient future.  Engaging with one of these organizations demonstrates to employees and customers your commitment to inclusion and vibrant communities.

Posted by Annelise Patterson