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Credit: University of California

UC Virtual Career Series | LGBTQ @ Work

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Join fellow UC alumni online for a transparent e-conversation around LGBTQ and identity in the workplace. During this hour-long, online panel we’ll talk about everything from finding a support network (even when a formal one does not exist) and ways to determine if a company is inclusive to being a great ally and mentoring others as they navigate the intersections of identity and work.

Time: Jun 11, 2019 12:00 P.M. Pacific Time

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The UC Virtual Career Series is a monthly series produced by the University of California Office of the President and the 10 UC Alumni Associations. On June 11 we’ll host the next edition of our series focusing on being LGBTQ at Work.

As a sneak preview of the types of questions and insights you might gain through the online event, we asked UC Irvine alumna Krystianne Avedian, principal of strategy & transformation design thinking at Capgemini, to share her insights on the intersection of identity and career.

UC Office of the President: Tell us about what made a past environment a perfect place for you to grow professionally.

Krystianne Avedian: I am not sure that any environment is PERFECT and growth for me happens in chapters. Each chapter builds on each other. My own coming out story in the workplace was a chapter that the environment felt safe and inclusive. It was actually a subculture within the organization I worked with that I felt I could be my authentic place.

UCOP: How about an environment that did not allow you to thrive and how you came to recognize that?

Krystianne Avedian
Krystianne Avedian
Courtesy photo

Avedian: I’ve worked in environments which did not feel safe “to be my authentic” self. As I have grown, and the chapters have evolved, I have been at various maturity levels of my own BOLDNESS which has allowed me to push the envelope at times when I might have not previously felt it was safe.

UCOP: The focus of our June 11th session is looking at the intersection of identity and career. How can a candidate assess a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion during the job search process?

KA: There are the usual tools of HRC CEI Index, being partners with organizations such as Diversity Best Practices or National Diversity Council, Employee Resource Groups (ERG) or Business Resource Group (BRG) groups, etc. All of those are definitely things to check with the HR and Recruiting team. But I would also advise having an informal interview with someone of the LGBTQ Employee Resource Group to have a “what is real” conversation to really understand the culture you are walking into.

UCOP: How might one recognize discrimination at work, and what advice can you share with others who may be facing challenging situations at work?

KA: Discrimination various by situation, person and nuance. The truth is ... we all have unconscious bias. Some folks might not be aware what they are saying may be offensive/discriminatory. I would say that discrimination/bias is anything that does not allow you to be/bring YOUR FULL SELF to work. If your gut tells you that you need to hide something, that is definitely a red flag that should be addressed. Bring this to the attention of your manager, diversity & inclusion manager, employee resource group or even your HR leader.

UCOP: As a leader, you’ve served as a role model and inspiration for LGBTQ professionals. Often times we hear about the importance of finding a mentor, but it’s harder to find information on how to be a great mentor to others. As a successful mentor, what advice do you have for those who might like to serve as an ally or mentor to other LGBTQ professionals?

KA: There isn’t a one size fits all solution for mentorship. I know from my own mentors, I have always sought a diverse group of mentors — and frequently have a few at a time. The saying “it takes a village” is true! As a mentor, understand the needs of your mentee — what are their growth and developmental areas, help coach them in the areas that they need. Stay with them and stay consistent to watch their evolution and development. And celebrate victories!

UCOP: Are there websites, books or other resources that you’ve found helpful or have recommended to others on the topics of LGBTQ and the workplace?

KA: Human Rights Campaign (HRC), National Diversity Best Practices and Out & Equal all have great stuff!

Special thanks to Krystianne for sharing her insights and advice with fellow UC alumni through this online interview. Tune in on June 11 to hear from five other UC graduates as they share their experiences the intersection of identity and career, advice on finding a support network, tips to identify whether a company is inclusive and identify ways to be a great ally and how to mentor others. Register here: UC Virtual Career Series: LGBTQ at Work.