Inside Aera
Featured, Aera At Work Jun 15, 2022

Getting the 101 on LGBTQ inclusion, diversity

Aera’s LGBT101 course facilitates conversations, empowers employees to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work

Aera Technology Manager Angie Gentry completed Aera’s LGBT101 course with a better understanding of the LGBTQ community and equipped with newly found confidence to support a colleague when they needed her the most – while they navigated through their personal journey to freely express themselves at work.

“It was amazing to see someone flourish at work once they felt like they could be their true, authentic self,” said Gentry, who felt the course helped her become a better ally.

Aera Engineering Technology Manager David Heisler and Aera Senior Geologist Emily Fisher teach a LGBT101 course

That’s exactly what the LGBT101 course was designed to do when it got its start in 2016. The course was originally started for leadership, managers, supervisors and then members of the LGBT+ Allies Employee Resource Group (ERG). Now, all employees are encouraged to take the course. Participants learn about LGBTQ issues and how to create an environment for LGBTQ individuals to feel fully included in the workplace.

“We’re not trying to change or adjust people’s beliefs,” said Kay Coodey, Aera geoscience technician and chair of the LGBT+ Allies ERG. “It’s about making all employees feel comfortable and changing behaviors in the workplace.”

Research shows creating an environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing their identity carries significant rewards. LGBTQ employees who are comfortable being themselves at work are more empowered, feel more comfortable about speaking up, and build close friendships at the office, a 2021 study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group shows.

The survey shows 53 percent of LGBTQ people who are partially or fully identifying as LGBTQ in the workplace believe that expressing themselves freely at work makes no difference professionally, and 24 percent see it as an advantage.

On the other hand, 23 percent see identifying as LGBTQ in the workplace as a disadvantage and expressed it as a potential risk to their careers, according to the study.

“LGBT101 is a place at Aera where we can be our authentic selves with no judgement. Everybody comes into the class with a different background and understanding of what the LGBTQ community experiences,” Gentry said. Nearly 200 Aera employees have completed the 3.5-hour course over the past six years.

Aera as a company embraces inclusion and diversity among all employees, and continually strives to create an environment where employees feel included and able to bring their whole selves to work.

“Creating a workplace where everyone is respected regardless of your own personal beliefs, aligns with Aera’s commitment to exceptional care for people, embracing diversity and inclusion. It’s about building an environment where people are respected and feel comfortable at work,” Coodey said.

DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy is a three-time recipient of the Forbes America’s Midsize Employer List, placing ninth in the 2022 ranking and securing its spot in the top ten midsize companies to work for in the United States.

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