Kofi Darku:On this episode of the Skill Up Build Up podcast, we have Tiffany Hanson. She's the outreach and engagement manager for Luna Language Services and the director of communications and marketing for Indy Pride. She's going to help us go deep on people with disabilities and the LGBT community. Let's do it.
Kofi Darku:Welcome back to the Skill Up Build Up podcast. We've been doing some deep dives into different population segments that we need to see better representation of in our workforce. And today we're going to talk about people with disabilities and our LGBTQ population. And to help us do that, we have Tiffany Hanson, outreach and engagement manager, from Luna Language Services. And she's also the director of communications and marketing for Indy Pride. Welcome Tiffany.
Tiffany Hanson:Hi. Thank you.
Kofi Darku:And sorry, Adam, I overlooked you.
Adam Scholtes:Oh, it's okay. I'm here too. Hello.
Kofi Darku:Our co-host Adam is still here pestering all of us.
Adam Scholtes:Kofi, you love me.
Kofi Darku:I love you so much. But enough of the antics. We've had some phenomenal examples around the country in terms of celebration of Pride. We've had some Special Olympics focuses. Al Roker was really praising his son and, and bringing prominence to our people with disabilities population. So we wanted to do a better job of focusing on that. So, before we do so, Tiffany, I think the audience should just get a better understanding of you. I've introduced you based on your titles. Can you tell us your background and how you got to be in these, these positions that you're in now?
Tiffany Hanson:Yeah, so my background has been kind of this pathway of organic growth. For a period of time I was contracting, just kind of putting together different clients, different projects, and kind of working on a lot of passion, passion projects. I was, I actually met Adam when I was still working with a local law firm. They were positioned to be able to work with a lot of minority populations because they did employment law, but they had four partners and each partner had a couple of different practice areas. And so they were positioned really well to be able to help people with, who faced discrimination. But those people in those communities typically have a lot of other ancillary legal challenges. So that's really how I got into a lot of the work that I was doing, was I felt like that was kind of a centralized way to reach people who would need legal services, but that can't go to a big law firm downtown that has crazy overhead, right? You can go to a small boutique law firm in Greenwood, and not pay crazy prices that you'd have to pay somebody downtown. So that's really where everything started. And I started working, working against employment discrimination -- instead of being like a smarmy person, that's like, "have you been discriminated against? Call our law firm," right? Like the commercial that you see at three o'clock in the morning if you're still up.
Kofi Darku:That was a great voice for it too.
Tiffany Hanson:Thank you.
Adam Scholtes:That was really good.
Tiffany Hanson:Thank you. So what I was doing instead, was saying, "this is what discrimination looks like for these different populations" is like, this is how like, even going to employers and saying "don't do this." And just giving good counsel to people. Cause some things are, a lot of things fall kind of in a gray area. But also teaching people within those communities like this is, there's a difference between someone that's just being a jerk and someone that's doing something unlawful. So I may be a jerk to you just because that's who I am. But there's a line that people cross sometimes and there's ways that you can track things that are unlawful rather than someone just being rude. And so part of my education was teaching communities what does, what unlawful discrimination actually looks like and then teaching them how they can take action against that. So that's kind of where everything in my kind of activism work started was that education. That's really where I started my relationship with Luna Language Services. The law firm was working with members of the deaf community because the deaf community has an even harder time finding work than a lot of other communities that have language barriers. And I think that's because when, when people are talking to somebody that doesn't speak the same language, what do they naturally do? They talk louder and they talk slower. Right? And if you're a deaf person, that's clearly not going to work. And so I think people have this like mental block of, "I don't know how to communicate with people who are deaf" rather than where it's like even more so than people who just speak a different language. And so they have an unusually, even more unusually hard time finding work. And so that's where a lot of my activism work with people with disabilities started. I built a relationship with Luna and then ended up coming onto their team. Last year, I worked with them, part time for about a year. And then this year I came on full time in January. So that's where I kind of entered the world of understanding discrimination against people with disabilities in the workplace. But because I teach, take such an educational spin on it, it's really more of that like advocacy for the hiring-of, what are better practices, and things like that. So while the work that I specifically do with Luna focuses on helping employers to understand how to overcome communication barriers to work with the deaf population, I am immersed with a whole group of people that works on trying to advocate for the hiring of people with disabilities as a whole. And so it kind of gives me this more well-rounded kind of education about that. And then with Indy Pride again, starting back with the law firm, the LGBTQ community faces a lot more legal challenges than the rest of the population. Even when you think about just things like family planning, like if I'm an LGBTQ couple and I want a child, most of the time I have to go through adoption or surrogacy. They have to have a lot tighter wills and trusts. You know, obviously just a couple of years ago marriage equality became legalized. But before that, like what do you do when you and your partner have been together for 50 years and all of a sudden someone's in intensive care and the family wants to fight back? And so there were all sorts of just ancillary legal challenges in general that go along with that community because they face so much of that societal discrimination. And so I joined the board of Indy Pride, and, and I was recruited to do their, their marketing communications. Chris Hamburg is the executive director and he's like, "you're really good at social media, will you be our director of marketing communications?" And I was like, "well what does that entail?" And he said, "well, you just have to, like, post on our Facebook and stuff." And I was like, "okay." So since then, I, so right now I manage Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. So I manage four platforms for them. I also helped with a total rebranding of the organization in addition to building a new website. Yeah. Lot more than, like, posting on Facebook, Chris. Yeah. Yeah. I am, I'm a total sucker, but it worked out. I learned so much and, I really got to... Holding that position, I got to really quickly meet a ton of influencers in that community and that touched that community. And it's allow me to do some really great work. So I came on with them as a staff member last year. So I'm a part time contractor with them too. So I still maintain that. So I still do all that stuff. So anything that you see online is basically something that I've put there.
Kofi Darku:And it is prolific, you're, you're doing some good work for Luna and still for the project you have as well, so.
Adam Scholtes:I can barely manage my Facebook and Instagram account, let alone...
Kofi Darku:So, Indy Pride did have it right when they said you're really good at social media.
Tiffany Hanson:Thank you.
Kofi Darku:So let's, let's unpack what a person or the types of people with disabilities are. Oftentimes we, we think of, autism or some types of behavioral disabilities. And there's some physical ones too. I loved how your story in terms of how you got involved, you were helping the deaf community. So let's do that. Tiffany, help us understand the expanse of what are people with disabilities.
Tiffany Hanson:Yeah. And that's a really interesting thing because it touches on so many different ways. I mean really it's just people who interact with the world in a different way than, than people who, I mean, that's basically it. Right? So, and I have seen there are so many videos out there of people, especially when you look at people with physical disabilities. I saw, I was at the Indiana Civil Rights Commission conference last week and there was a presentation about people with disabilities in the workplace and they showed this video, this woman who basically her arms stopped like, just a little bit past her shoulders. And they just showed a video of her completely navigating the office by herself, typing emails, signing contracts, like all these things where you're like, how can someone who doesn't use your arms or your hands, how could you do those things? And she was so innovative, some of the ways that she did things. And the other interesting thing was the accommodations that she needed. Like she's been navigating the world by herself for her whole life. Right? And so a lot of times people with disabilities will already come into organization where they understand how to, how to do things or how they might accomplish something. But I'll take that back just a step. So there's all sorts of ways that people interact with the world differently in a physical way. So that could look like the deaf community. It could look like the blind community. It could look like, people who use their extremities in a different way. That could look like the neurodiverse population, which is typically something that like autism falls underneath. It could look like someone who has a really hard time just interacting socially with people. They have a hard time interviewing. They need to take more time to process something before they can answer a question. That doesn't mean that they're not capable of answering a question, just means they need a little bit more time. It could also be, you know, people who have mental health challenges. So there's this huge spectrum of, of what disabilities look like. Some of those, especially, you know, physical disabilities are clearly something that can be seen. And you can identify, but it's the hidden disabilities where people may not come forward with that. So you may not understand that someone that is taking a long time to answer a question just needs a little bit more time to process it because they haven't told you ahead of time, because they're afraid if they do, then you won't give them consideration. So it's a huge spectrum of just the way that people interact with the world in a different way or kind of navigate the world in a different way.
Adam Scholtes:And if we turn this around a little bit, whenever we talk about inclusion or diversity, we've had, we've had folks on this show, Kofi, that you know, we've talked about diversity, inclusion and it's always been like a national origin, right? Or where folks are from or maybe skin color, but to incorporate people with disabilities and, and everything else, saying that should be included in inclusion and diversity. I think sometimes we, we forget that. Maybe not intentionally, but...
Kofi Darku:I'm glad you articulated that. I think often it's, they are overlooked, you know, even though they should be included, but they are often overlooked.
Adam Scholtes:So I wanted to ask you about... We spoke about this, I call it the Walgreens example, right? For folks out there who maybe don't know the story behind Walgreens and what they did, I think this might be able to make a correlation with maybe some of our listeners inside warehouses now. And can you add some color around what Walgreens did in their warehouse and their business and why, to help increase inclusion and diversity?
Tiffany Hanson:Absolutely. So, first off I will say, so the gentleman's name that started this whole initiative is Randy Lewis and you can Google Randy Lewis, TED Talk, and he's got a whole 25 minute TED Talk that he tells his whole story. So it's really good. Yeah, it's really compelling. So it's been awhile since I've looked at it, but I can articulate some of the main points. So, Randy is a very high level executive with Walgreens and he has a son who's autistic. And so he was taking a look at how can we start to integrate, like "how can I make a better world where my son is going to have, is going to have the same opportunities as somebody else?" And he's like, "well, I'm a person of power, so why wouldn't I start with where I am?" Right? "I've got influence, so let's use it." Hey, all people of power out there. You should consider that.
Kofi Darku:If you're listening.
Tiffany Hanson:So, if you're listening. So--
Adam Scholtes:She whispered that by the way.
Kofi Darku:Oh, they heard it.
Tiffany Hanson:So what Randy decided to do, was he, I think it was the director of operations or something similar. But what he wanted to do is he wanted to make a very intentional initiative to hire more people with disabilities into these production facilities, right? So a lot of times when I hear people talking about like the percentage of their workforce that they want to be, people of color or women or whatever these groups are, people with disabilities, it's like, "Ooh, if we can hit like 2 percent, we'll be solid." Right? Like, let's just hire a person or two people or let's just get a few people on board. Right? Yeah. And I mean that's a, that's that, that's a realistic thing that, you know, those are baby steps and I'm all about anything that takes a step forward. Right? But Randy was like, "I want to hire like 40 percent. Like I want it to be close to half, if not half, of people with disabilities into all positions. I don't want this to be just low level entry level positions where people come in and it's just really, you know, marginal work. I want it to be something that's meaningful to people and that truly matches their skill sets." So he started this initiative and I want to say he got close to 40 or 50 percent in this, he started at one big production facility. And one of the things that he mentions, is that when he started this and putting it out there, people with disabilities literally relocated to be near that facility just so they could apply for jobs there. Because yeah, there was, it was so powerful. I mean out of state, people were moving several states over.
Kofi Darku:Think about that.
Tiffany Hanson:Yeah, there was, it was so powerful. I mean, out of state, people were moving several states over.
Kofi Darku:That just speaks volumes about people looking for opportunities, but probably historically just being overlooked or denied--
Adam Scholtes:It's a whole talent pool.
Kofi Darku:--because they realize, "oh my gosh, they are hiring over there. I want a job. I can't get one here. I will move there to get a job."
Tiffany Hanson:And I think the big part of that wasn't just like, "well you can come and be a low paid hourly worker here," but it was all levels, all positions, apply for what you think you're appropriate for. And so in the interview process, one of my big takeaways from that TED Talk from him is he says, "one of the, the quote-unquote pieces of technology that we realized during this whole process was something that we call ATP: ask the person." He said, "every single time we came across a person that interacts with the world differently, we would just ask them, how would you, how would you perform this task? How would you do this?" And because I have such a focus on the deaf community, my favorite example is one that he gave of the people that are oftentimes in the manufacturing and production world are worried about deaf people in their facilities because they think that it's going to be less safe and there's like, to drive like forklifts, or you have to be able to like test the horn. That's like one of their requirements, right? So he said, "well let's just ask them how they would do that." So they asked two different people, "well, how, how would you test the horn for this machine?" And one person said, "well, like I can still feel vibrations, so if I just put my hand where I know the sound comes out of, and I push the button, then I can feel whether or not it vibrates." Like that's just science. The other person was super funny. He was like, well, he's like, "I would drive up behind a group of people who I knew were hearing, and I would push the button, and if it startled them, then I would know" that, yeah, that's total science. So, but it was like two very different approaches, so it shows innovation, but two very real ways that someone could accomplish that task outside of being able to just hear it. Right? So, people are coming up with, like I said, people with disabilities, because they navigate a world that is typically not set up for them, they already have all of these accommodations, innovations in place for most of the things that people require for them to do. So just fascinating. So the other things if you look up Randy, is you'll start to see, it's been long enough where they have, they have the data behind how that affected their organization. So that actual facility had the highest level of productivity in the country. They had the least amount of sick days taken, the least amount of just time off taken, which--
Adam Scholtes:When you say in the country versus their other Walgreens...
Tiffany Hanson:So comparing to the other production facilities in the country, they had the highest safety numbers, and they had the most workplace satisfaction-- and it wasn't just the people with disabilities who were satisfied. But like, imagine if every day you come to work and the person that's next to you is just super jacked up to be there and really excited about doing whatever task it is they're doing. You naturally just really enjoy your work more. Yeah. And so it affects the whole workplace culture and that has been proven time and time again with people with disabilities, unless you have people who are resistant to that. Typically once that becomes built into solid workplace culture, everyone benefits from the positive nature of working with people that see the world differently, so.
Kofi Darku:That was a great explanation. And it's true, after that, I don't know how, if you're an employer out there, you don't start considering "maybe I should invest a little more heavily if I can get all of those great stats that Tiffany just dropped," in terms of less calling in, less sick days, productivity being much higher than the other warehouses across the country.
Adam Scholtes:Have you used that example with any of your, I'll say customers, where you or maybe a customer has implemented that strategy, like the Walgreen's strategy, into their warehouse?
Tiffany Hanson:I haven't seen very many people. Everybody wants to take-- there aren't very many people like Randy out there who just will go, you know, full-out in a big initiative like that. Especially in a large company that's like that. You again, you have to be in a position of power to be able to do something that's that big. But there are people, so we were talking earlier about Scott Wise with Scotty's Brewhouse. So Scott and the restaurant industry, it's a great industry where, people especially like, people who are neurodiverse, who are very detailed-oriented and really focused on things--
Adam Scholtes:Hey, real quick, can we pause? What's, what's neurodiverse? You've said that twice. What's neurodiverse?
Adam Scholtes:Well, yeah, what else falls under that?
Tiffany Hanson:I couldn't tell you everything that falls-- it's just people who their brains process things differently. And so it's--
Kofi Darku:I mean, Asperger's is, similar, obviously.
Adam Scholtes:Okay, that makes sense.
Kofi Darku:But it's true. I can't off the top, just think of other neurodiversity... Tiffany's helping expand my vocabulary because I did not refer to them as being neurodiverse. So yeah, welcome. You're welcome audience.
Tiffany Hanson:It's kind of an umbrella term just for people that-- most, most of the time, people think of autism when they think of the neurodiverse community. Yeah, so Scott Wise hired, I think he was at like 10 or 15 percent of his workforce he wanted to be people with disabilities. So he kind of, he started a little lower than Randy, but much higher than a lot of other folks. And you know, there are people who would love to sit and roll silverware all day long. There are people, who are amazing, they're like so detail-oriented, and they want to clean everything. And so they're really good in the kitchen or bussing tables and these are really great, I mean the restaurant industry is really great for people to get their career started anyway. So when you're looking at an autistic 16-year-old kid, that maybe he may have a hard time interacting with customers really quickly, but he may be amazing to go bus tables and to roll silverware and do all of this support work. And it's a really great way to teach people about workplace culture: how to show up on time, all those things. Well, and Scott was, you know, again, we talk about all of these really feel-good fluffy things, but you know, looking at the business case for this, just like with Walgreens, they had taken a look at data, and what does that do? And again, the restaurant industry is very well-known for a high level of turnover. People go in and out, or I know, I worked there, worked in restaurants for a long time-- Olive Garden, Joe's Crab Shack. The last place I worked was Harry and Izzy's downtown. So I worked in restaurants for a long time, and people go in and out all the time, and they saw their retention rates were insane in the restaurants where they had people with disabilities working. And I think it goes back to you come in, and you are sitting next to a kid who's super excited to roll silverware, and that you're fully supported by more people, and it just, it changes your workplace culture, and people loved it, it created-- You also saw more people, like, rallying around these people to support them. And so you create this family aspect of people wanting to support one another. And it was just incredible. So.
Adam Scholtes:So in high school, when I worked at TGI Friday's, right, we had, we had, a person with Down Syndrome on our team and, and I can completely and 100 percent, I just can't even, I don't know why I didn't think about this, vouch for what you just said. When we worked together on a shift, I mean it was, it was just a different feel, a different vibe from a positive standpoint. Right? It was just more fun, I mean the customer interaction was different. So yeah, I can 100 percent relate to that. I don't know why I didn't put that correlation together in the pre-show discussions. So, and he was, he was a power, he was a power lifter too. Like I'm thinking back, I was like, "oh, I wonder what happened," like, you move away, you know, after you go to college, so.
Kofi Darku:You've jumped into some with Scotty's Brewhouse and Walgreens, but while we have you on the show, Tiffany, can you help us also understand any other best practices that you've seen where employers are engaging either people with disabilities, or let's expand it, the LGBTQ population too?
Tiffany Hanson:Let's start with people with disabilities. I think that especially when you're looking at hiring practices and interview practices, you know, for the deaf community on your, and this works for all multilingual people, but on your job descriptions, or where people are applying, very clearly stating that you'll provide a language interpreter for someone if they would like it. That's something that's a huge signal to people that "we really want to talk to you." Right? I have a lot of intersectionality in the work that I do. And last year I planned Indy Pride's very first career fair, it was the first LGBTQ career fair, really in the state.
Tiffany Hanson:And because I had a relationship with Luna Language Services at the time, and Adam was there, we had, ASL interpreters and Spanish-speaking interpreters. So we had a language access station as soon as people walked in. And then we, we clearly posted that on all of our marketing materials to the community, just that we would for, to create more language access, we are going to have these, these folks here. And then we translated a poster into Spanish. That was all that we did, and we had a swarm of deaf people. We are going to have more American Sign Language interpreters this year. We had a swarm of deaf people around the American Sign Language interpreter because that's never provided for them. And American Sign Language is very different. A lot of people think American Sign Language is English with your hands and so you just have to seriously, you just have to like write it down. But it's very different. I mean it's literally like the grammatical structure, like grammar in American Sign Language, like might be how you raise your eyebrows or, or where your shoulder placement is or like if you lean forward. Is that a question or, yes. So there's a lot of these nuances with body language that people that use American Sign language, use that contributes to grammar or like small words like "a," "that," "the," you know what I mean? Some of the things that we're used to. So anyway, it was interesting because at that career fair, I had multiple recruiters who are like, "I've never had a person, a conversation with a deaf person before." Yeah. And they're like, "this is amazing. Like I always have to write it out or," and I'm like "now imagine from the deaf person's perspective, that's literally like their whole life," right? Anytime they go anywhere they have to do that. And if you want to have a meaningful conversation with someone about their skillsets, about what they aspire to, whether to, communicate your own company culture, imagine trying to do that by writing notes back and forth on a piece of paper.
Adam Scholtes:Or talking louder and slower, like I do to a deaf person. I mean, and I, I seriously, like we, our entire group at our table there, I mean, none of us spoke Spanish. I mean obviously if we don't know sign language either and to be able have even, let's just, even a Spanish couple or Spanish family come up looking for a job and, ugh, we can't, we can't help. And I'm, and I'm talking, working for the Morales Group, we just didn't have somebody who could speak Spanish, but you guys had an interpreter there or a Spanish-speaking person with them. Like walking up to them going, what do you all like? And I knew it was getting translated perfectly.
Tiffany Hanson:They want to be able to ask, just like everyone else, they want to make sure they're clear about the questions they're asking, how they're answering. They want to be able to articulate everything and come across as just as they are. And the same thing for the recruiter. Like you want to be able to articulate exactly what you have to offer and really get to the heart of what their skillsets are, so that you can place them. Right? And so, but it was that little thing. It was like, you know, an interpreter is essentially $50 an hour. You get a couple of interpreters for a career fair. It's a tiny investment to be able to have conversations and to be able to open that up to so many more people. So, best practice: have interpreters at your career fairs. I get people who ask me all the time, "should I have a career fair just for people with disabilities" or just for whatever. And I'm like, "no, just make the things you're doing more accessible and inclusive and let people know that. Like you don't have to brag about it, but let people know: ASL interpreters, Spanish-speaking interpreters, Burmese interpreters will be at this event and your community partners will advertise that for you."
Kofi Darku:Now also, I mean in making sure that you have this variety of interpreters beyond communicating that at career fairs and letting the audience or the people that would be attending know that you have those interpreters, employers also have to start thinking about making sure they do have that variety of interpreters as well. So, or I should say, event organizers because this isn't really for the employers, so sorry.
Tiffany Hanson:See, but it's a super easy, there's companies like Luna out there that have those services or I mean a lot of people will try to use their internal employees. But just making it very intentional is a big deal. Like I said in the the job applications, making sure that you're putting on there then that you'll provide interpreters or, putting your anti-discrimination policies, being, having those be very forward-facing like in big places, where people are applying for jobs. That's a really big cue for people to be able to say "this company cares enough about this to make it like front and center." What else? Just making sure that you're asking people questions about how they would do something rather than assuming that they can't do something. Being able, with people with disabilities, being able to be a little bit uncomfortable to say, "Oh, so can you just tell me the best way to interact with you or tell me what your challenges are or tell me how you overcome those?" Or like just acknowledging the situation, and what's going on, so that the person can let you know how you should interact with them, is the best way to do it. And I think that's in all walks of life. You'll find that with the LGBTQ community as well, especially with the Trans Community. But, just asking people. Yeah. And just trying to be candid and honest and genuine about wanting to know the answer, I think, is also a very good, best practice for that.
Adam Scholtes:People don't ask the question, like they don't, they don't ask, they just assume, nope you're going to do it. But nobody will go like the extra step, or even the extra half step I'd call it, just to ask the question.
Tiffany Hanson:Say "how would you do this?"
Adam Scholtes:Is that cause it's uncomfortable?
Tiffany Hanson:Yes. Cause I'm saying, cause essentially by saying, "how would you do this?" People are like, "I'm telling you, I don't think you can do this." Yeah. But the person really wants to tell you "no, no, no, I can." Right? So, but like just putting it on the table and saying, "how would you navigate this challenge?" I mean you do that in interviews anyway, right? So just framing it in a way that you would frame a normal interview question, but just saying, "how would you accomplish this?" You know?
Adam Scholtes:That's a paradigm shift in the question. Cause I would totally just go, "here's the job. Like you're, you're, if you're qualified, you're just going to do it." And I'm not going to ask the question.
Tiffany Hanson:Well that's the other thing too. People with disabilities know they have disabilities and they, right? They're very real with themselves about what they can and cannot do and they want, they aren't going to apply for jobs that they don't think that they can do.
Adam Scholtes:Just like we would.
Tiffany Hanson:Exactly. Right. Yeah.
Kofi Darku:So, so we were, I love how we focused on the career fair. And I know there's a lot of discretion. I do think that we're entering a part of this episode where we're trying to peel back layers of why has there been behavior like this up until now? It's, it's not easy to ask the person. It's not easy to ATP. But it's, it's, it's instrumental in us making some type of progress. I'm saying all this to try and refocus on LGBTQ and see whether or not as a result of that career fair, were there any employers that somehow connected with the population in a different way, that they were now approaching that population differently? Just based on some exposure and having some understanding? Or I'm really trying to get--
Adam Scholtes:Took it back home.
Kofi Darku:Yeah. Yeah. And like is there any nice story ending or a change in practice that could be an example of a better practice, as a result of how they're approaching the LGBTQ population?
Tiffany Hanson:Well, with the LGBTQ community, one of the things that, myself and Chris Hamburger, executive director, one of the things that we've done is-- Chris has actually worked really hard on this-- creating a group of folks that are in companies around the area that run or support employee resource groups, business resource groups, affinity groups, however you want to label it, to be able to, because these groups are typically a way for organizations to drive more inclusive change within, within the organization. So we're bringing them all together to talk about best practices, where they've failed, where they've come up against challenges, how somebody else has overcome that, what are some of the cool interactive things that you've done? So we've created a group of people that kind of originally started with a lot of this like anti-discrimination work and this inclusivity work. So anti-discrimination is kind of like the negative side of it, but if you reframe it as far as like "how can you not discriminate" versus "how can you really be inclusive and welcoming." And that's a whole spectrum, right? But really a lot of that came out of like, "how can we start to teach more of the companies that we're working with, that sponsor the parade, all the events, right? And that show up to all the events. How can we teach them best practices" where we know that they want to try? Right? And they may be already doing a lot of these things, but how do we bring them together to be able to effect more change across their organizations? So that's one thing where we've literally created a group just to do that. And it's different for every company. There are some companies where people just want to feel safe. They just want other people in their company to know, like I get like posting an anti-discrimination policy for LGBTQ people, but it is still legal to fire someone because they're gay or because they're transgender. That's still a legal thing. And so, and a lot of people are fighting against that. But posting in your anti-discrimination policy, technically sexual orientation and gender identity is, are not protected classes, but if you put that in your anti-discrimination policy and very outwardly say that "we will not discriminate against you for your sexual orientation, we will not discriminate against you because of your gender identity" is a huge sign to people, and putting that right up front. So it's simple things like that where, how much money does it cost to add that to your anti-discrimination policy and to post that somewhere where people are, you know what I mean? Like these are very affordable changes people can make. Other things like I'm thinking about your benefits packages for LGBTQ people, whether that looks like, a health insurance for same sex partners or for long-time same sex partners, a lot of people still haven't gotten married. A lot of people have gotten married, but sometimes old school benefits don't recognize that. Right? So making sure that you're intentionally stating that you'll be covered on that. Or again, lots of LGBTQ people end up needing to adopt or go through surrogacy or, just have a, a different way of building a family. So are your benefits packages inclusive to that? What does that, what does paternity leave look like for you? Healthcare benefits for transgender people. Transgender people have some different health needs. Are your healthcare benefits gonna cover any surgeries that they may need to have or, I mean there's, there's all sorts of these things where there, you can be inclusive with just the things that you're offering and stating that to people that it's very clear in your policies that these are all for you, reiterating that to people. And if you're constantly educating all, your entire employee base about all of the benefits that you're offering them, and that's just something that's included, it's not like you just have to have a meeting to be like "you're gay, so we're going to make sure that you have paternity leave," you know, but making sure that you're communicating company-wide, "this is what our maternity and paternity leave policy looks like" and it's just communicating everything to everybody to make sure that they're included in what you're already doing. Right? Those are the big ones. I think too, pronouns is, being able to allow people to let you know how they would like to be addressed. Right? So one thing that I do in every email signature that I have, I have my pronouns there. A lot of times if you go into LGBTQ spaces, people will announce themselves when they introduce themselves. "My name is Tiffany Hanson. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I work with Indy Pride. What's your name?" You know what I mean? In networking meetings and business meetings, things like that, an interviewer can do that to every single person that they interview. "Hi, my name is Tiffany Hanson, my pronouns are she, her, hers. It's so nice to meet you." People who are part of the community or allies recognize that. And then if you're a transgender person, it makes you so much more comfortable with the person that you're talking to because you know, they understand just a, at least just a little bit about gender, enough to be able to say, "this is how I identify so you can address me correctly." And giving someone the space to do that because if someone presents very masculine but they need feminine pronouns, that's challenging for them, like they have to like make the space to tell you, right? Or if someone's nonbinary, or there's this whole spectrum of gender, right? If someone uses "they, them, and theirs" pronouns that they, they really need to do some education with you unless you already know just a little bit about it and that it's a thing. So I think that just recognizing people for who they are and saying, "I understand a little bit about you and I really want you to talk to me. Like I'd really love to learn more about you." That's a really easy way to let people know that.
Kofi Darku:Fantastic. Well, Tiffany, you have given us a treasure trove of info. I love this. I think hopefully our audience will understand how we can better engage both of these populations, but if someone wants to go a little bit deeper and understand more, how can they get in contact with you, to learn firsthand from you?
Tiffany Hanson:The work that I do with Luna Language Services, most of what we do is helping people to overcome language barriers. So if you're interested in that kind of work, working with the deaf community, working with people who have limited English skills, you can email me at Tiffany@luna360.com. If you want to talk about the LGBTQ community, and the work that I'm doing with Indy Pride, you can email me at email@example.com. I will say too, we are doing the career fair again this year. Adam, I hope you'll be there.
Kofi Darku:What, what date?
Tiffany Hanson:This is August 20.
Adam Scholtes:Is that the same timeframe as last year?
Tiffany Hanson:Yeah, it's going to be 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM so that people have kind of like a big lunch hour to be able to come down there.
Kofi Darku:Definitely the last Monday in August.
Tiffany Hanson:Yes. And we're doing it at the Indiana Historical Society. Thank you for that support, Kofi. We're going to do it at the Indiana Historical Society so we're centralized to a location downtown that's also really close to bus routes. But last year we had 20 of the area's largest employers there. This year we're hoping to have between 30 and 40. We're about halfway full right now. So that'll be another thing that we'll be putting out soon and starting to advertise to the public.
Kofi Darku:If you're an employer that's curious about being a part of this career fair, I think, she just let you know, space is filling up. You need to contact her. Well Tiffany, thank you so much. We all have a lot of learning to do. I can be humble and I'm grateful that there are friends like you that are helping us learn and helping us do a better job of making sure there's more representation in our workforce for these very deserving populations and communities.
Tiffany Hanson:That's my pleasure.
Kofi Darku:We had another great episode. Tiffany gave us so many stats, and she also shared best practices. So that's my first takeaway, as a best practice, be very upfront with your anti-discrimination policy. Make sure it's in bold letters or a larger font so that people can easily read it. Put it towards the front of the communication. And in doing so, you're making individuals that may be hesitant, or not know if they're going to be accepted in your environment, know that you do not discriminate and that will do wonders for them in reaching out to you. Another best practice: acknowledge the situation. If you know there is something a little unique about what they're doing, acknowledge it. Try and make sure that, you're trying to help individuals. Who may identify in a standard way, you can model for them by using your, "they them theirs" and try and help make the environment more comfortable. And lastly, I love how she referenced ATP, ask the person. I mean the Walgreens example. And then also what's happening with the LGBTQ community. Asking the person, having a conversation, I think, you know, cuts away some of the awkwardness or uncertainty and lets you get to the actual situation. So, thank you for listening to this episode of Skill Up Build Up podcast. I'm Kofi Darku, I identify as "he him his." Please be sure to check out future episodes of the Skill Up Build Up podcast wherever you get your iTunes, or download podcasts. And we'll see you next time.
Speaker 4:podcast and we'll see you next time. Thanks.