NOTE: This post might be interpreted as “political.” That’s cool. Remember, my opinions are my own. And goodness knows…I have opinions.
There is plenty of material out there discussing the laws, the impact it will have on local communities (Paypal and Bruce Springsteen put their money where their mouths are…with more to come, I’m sure). I’ll leave the social discussion and moral outrage to others who can articulate it with such dexterity (like this incredible post by Jay Kuhns).
Through all this, I started thinking about everyday employees who had to hear that message from their government. And when Ed Tsyitee tweeted “HR people in Mississippi and North Carolina must be doing a collective facepalm right now,” I realized…he’s right. How messed up is this? Here we are – a nation of businesses supposedly obsessed with employee engagement, now confronting a message that we care about our people…as long as our people are exactly like we say they should be.
Employees are just trying to make a living. They want to live their lives. They want to fit in in a way that feels right to them. For god’s sake, they just want to go to the bathroom.
Leaders (true leaders) know how important it is to allow people to be authentic. And no…I don’t mean they have license to be assholes. I mean that people have the right to live as they are – male, female, gay, straight, furry, LARP-er, Star Wars nerd, Star Trek geek – whatever makes them who they are. Leaders sometimes face ridicule (or worse) for supporting their zany crew. These leaders are simply trying to keep their team motivated to do the work the business needs to do.
For those leaders of employees who face this challenge on a daily basis, here are some things you can say to impacted employees:
You make a difference in the organization. You a person worthy of respect. You are a human being – with the same strengths, flaws, quirks, foibles, and greatness as everyone else.
You will be held to the same standard of work as others. You will be praised when you knock it out of the park. You will get a talking to when you goof up. After all – we have a job to do.
You can share who you are with this team, because we support you. And you are free to hum the theme song of ‘Dallas’ when the spirit moves you (unless it’s during a presentation to the executive team – that could be bad).
I’m so glad you’re on the team.
You. Are. Valued.
No matter what the outside world throws at your employees, you have the power to remind them they are PEOPLE first. They are YOUR people. They are the lifeblood of your team. They are the reason your business gets things done.
Leaders – you can set an example for others. You can show the fearful people that “different” isn’t something to punish. We’re all different.
And we all have value.