yes, I am supposed to be in the ladies restroom

I’m in Orlando right now at a Talent Management conference put on by the Society for Human Resource Management. There are about 1500 people, give or take, people that work in or near the human resources areas of their companies.

A thing in HR is diversity. I mean, it’s important. There are studies and articles and full on natural conferences devoted to the issue. Diversity is an amazing thing and the only thing that it can do is good. REALLY GOOD. 
The bummer is that HR professionals, as a whole from my experience, aren’t all that excited about it. There are always diversity specialists and folks that want to focus on inclusion. Those people are my favorites. It’s just not as prevalent as it should be right now. 

That’s why I’m annoyed right now. 

Here’s a picture of me and my grandma from a few years ago. Let’s first look at my grandma. She’s the most adorable thing in the world and the best ever. Not really the point of this post, but I just like everyone to know my grandma. 

  

Now let’s look at me. Short hair. Usually spikey. No makeup. Maybe some chapstick. Argyle. Sweater in neutral colors from Kohl’s or maybe Target. Jeans. Probably sneakers or other sensible shoes.

Side story: when I was younger, one of my grandmas once told me the boys were going to like my chest. (Don’t bother saying anything about how wrong that was because I will kick you.) Fast forward many years and while the boy thing didn’t pan out, OTHER THINGS CONTINUED GROWING. Point being: when you see me from the front or the side, I have things that females have. I have enough to share, if anyone wants to negotiate this. 

Back to this HR conference where HR people should have some elevated knowledge and awareness of those around them that may be diverse. Now picture me again right now: button up shirt, argyle vest, gray pants from the ladies department at Kohl’s and, as always, sensible shoes.

In the 1.5 days I’ve been at this conference, I’ve been called sir three times and had two people ask me if I’m the right restroom. I’m not counting the lady that I held the door for and watched her look at the sign on the door and looked back at me twice. 

Where are these people from? Have they never seen queer women? (Side note: if I’m stereotyping by physical appearance, I’m the only one that’s visably a lesbian.) Do they not have cable where they’ve watched one episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show? 

Two points to this post. 

  1. Do better, HR folks particularly at this conference, in recognizing diversity of all kind. I know it’s scary but we’re out there and you need to accept that and be nice about it. You’re different than me, but I open the door, pick up things you drop and say “please” and “thank you” to you.
  2. Tell me again why we don’t need gender neutral restrooms. I was born a female and still identify as one and yet I’m questioned about going into the right room to pee. 

how to make your employees want to come to work

I don’t write about work very much in great detail, because, you know, firing and stuff. However, today is a little different. Today marked my one year anniversary at my current place of employment. It’s been a year that’s flown by, but it also seems like I’ve been here forever. Both of those are awesome things. And there are awesome things that this company does for their employees that I’ve never seen done before. For me, they’re things that make an impact on me, make me want to stay here and would likely have made me want to stay at any employer. So, bosses, employers, managers, etc., here’s my advice, from both an employee and an HR standpoint, to you:

Recognize Your Employee: Not just at their yearly review, but regularly. Money and gifts and prizes are not required. A “hey, great job working with that customer!” or even just a “thank you so much for your help with this insanely boring spreadsheet” goes a lot farther than you think.

Use Manners and Be Nice: I get it. You want to tell me to do something and you’re the boss. Got it. But if you say things to me like “Do you have some time to help me with this?” or “Could you please type up these 540 pages of mindless drivel?”, I’m going to be happy about helping you because you were nice to me. You’re asking me and you’re not telling me, and it makes me feel like you really do appreciate my time and skills.

Offer Training and Growth: But only if someone wants it. There are people out there that are really good at one thing and they love it. They don’t to learn more things. As long as that’s not effecting their job or your company’s bottom line, that’s okay! Not everyone wants to be a CEO and we still need people like that. The employees that want to learn and grow just want to know that option is available. Let them shadow another department or visit another location if you have one. They don’t have to take advantage of any of that, but having the option makes a huge difference.

Help them Find Passion: Don’t think passion projects, because that phrase makes me want to hurl. My VP recently enlisted my co-worker and I into expanding our diversity. I’m passionate about that and I’m excited. Your employees may find they really love training people and that can work to your advantage – win, win! Maybe someone’s extremely into research, so take advantage of that, too, and have them do it for you. Passion -> excitement -> engagement. I promise.

Ask for and Listen to their Opinions: You don’t have to agree with them at all, but if you are truly hearing what they’re saying, it goes a long way. You might want to engage them a little bit, so they feel heard. Taking the time to listen to their ideas, opinions or concerns gives employees the feeling that they, along with their feelings, really do matter to their leader and ultimately to the organization.

This isn’t an conclusive list and I only play an HR person 40ish hours a week, so feel free to take this word for word or with a grain of salt. More than anything, treat your employees like people. The way you work it out is totally up to you.

the last year has seriously flown

My desk on the last day at my last job.

Exactly one year ago today, I was at the Imperial Room with co-workers from my previous job, and I was in the process of getting absolutely obliterated on drinks that I couldn’t keep track of at all. Later, I would puke on the back porch. My wife would probably tell you more about that if you wanted the details. The hardest part for me was leaving some of my co-workers (the non-homophobic ones) and the CEO, who was an enormous catalyst in my professional growth over those five years. The easiest part for me was everything else. I won’t go into detail, but I’m sure you can read them in my future memoir and it will likely take up 43 chapters with very few pictures.

And since then… man. You know how they say you shouldn’t do ALL OF THE LIFE CHANGES at once? Well, screw that. In the past 365 days, we’ve done some things.

  • I started a new very awesome job.
  • We celebrated Minnesota legalizing gay marriage.
  • We went camping.
  • I started going back to school.
  • We went to Vegas.
  • We got married.
  • We saw Macklemore.
  • We went camping again.
  • I went to Missouri in October.
  • We went to Missouri for Christmas.
  • Amelia started going back to school.
  • We went up north for a cabin weekend.
  • The Kid switched schools.
  • We got pregnant.

I don’t necessarily know that the next year will slow down with things on the agenda like going to Montana, graduating with my AA in Liberal Arts, going to New York, buying a new car, starting my Bachelor’s program, and having a baby all on the agenda for the next six or seven months.

When I put it all into perspective, I can’t wait to come back and look at this post again in 365 days when we’ll have an almost six month old and a 17 year old a month away from graduating high school.

This is probably a gimme, but I’m pretty happy with this life of mine right now.