Webinar Recap: LGBTQ Cultural Competence

Moderator: David Rice, Senior Content Editor at DiversityInc


  • Jenna McGuire – Senior Risk Management Engineer and co-Chair of Abbott PRIDE at Abbott (No. 4 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021)
  • Melissa Engelstad – West Market Unit Inclusion and Diversity and LGBT Inclusion Lead at Accenture (No. 2 in 2021)
  • Jason Moses – Lead Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at AT&T (Hall of Fame)
  • John Lake – Senior Vice President Diverse Segment Marketing at Wells Fargo (No. 25 in 2021)

In our latest webinar, DiversityInc discussed cultural competence for companies in how they approach the LGBTQ community. Representatives from Top 50 and Hall of Fame companies discussed a variety of topics, including how to educate other employees on LGBTQ issues, vetting supplier policies and the promotion of acceptance when dealing with companies that have more conservative views.

Watch the full session below:

Key Webinar Thoughts, Takeaways and Highlights

Melissa Engelstad on creating a culture of inclusion:

“Folks have to see the most senior leaders really leaning into LGBTQ inclusion to set the stage for that culture of acceptance. You want folks to see it before they even walk in the door of your company. They should be able to research your company and see that you’re very public around your LGBTQ inclusion stance, which will really help then with the transition once they are a part of your company.”

Jenna McGuire on acceptance beyond leadership:

“A huge portion of that acceptance as well is going to have to come from their colleagues, their middle management, their director. Pronouns are really easy to encourage people to put on, because it’s a free way to say, “Yes, I acknowledge that this.” And just that communication that you think it’s worth recognizing automatically kind of signals you as an ally and someone who you can be yourself around.”

Jason Moses on promoting acceptance for the variety of gender identities and sexual orientations:

“What I found is through different webinars, lunch and learns, even international training with some of our overseas centers on kind of understanding the dynamics between gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, being able to kind of myth bust and talk and kind of about the topic and bring everything to light in a way that’s just more educational has been so overwhelmingly well received.”

John Lake on talking about LGTBQ issues openly:

“It’s about creating a safe space not just for the members of the community who are telling their story, but for those who have questions about it and can be safe asking those questions. We’ve rolled out a series of DE&I chats with the intent of educating and really helping to, for lack of a better word, normalize talking about sexuality and gender. I feel like if you treat it like it’s an uncomfortable subject, it will become an uncomfortable subject.”

Melissa Engelstad on vetting partners and clients and addressing employee concerns about their LGBTQ stance:

“We have a path of escalation. If one of our employees feels like we’ve entered into work with a client that maybe has some questionable stances on LGBTQ inclusion, we have to talk about it because we want our people to feel heard. We want to make sure that that concern is addressed and researched. We have a committee that comes together to look at that concern in a really holistic way.”

John Lake on how Wells Fargo handled Pride month during COVID-19:

“What do you do at a time like pride that’s about feeling a part of community and self-expression, and knowing that the loss of this outlet for connectivity would likely have a negative impact on the mental health of those in the community who were probably already feeling isolated during the pandemic?”

Jenna McGuire on creating an authentic environment of acceptance without feeling fake or disingenuous:

“You leverage your employees. When you want to create an initiative, get the people in the room with you and talk to them. I’m sitting here right now as a part of the employee resource group, the employee network. I can feel like what Abbott does, I see it every day. That environment of acceptance is genuine because I’m there. They’re talking with me. They’re seeing what truly the issues are and they’re listening. That’s the easiest way to make sure you come off as sincere is to do a little bit of the leg work, partner with professionals.”

Jason Moses on prioritizing LGBTQ populations beyond Pride month:

“It’s about what’s being done, but also are you actually launching initiatives throughout the year or are you only focusing on June and October? I think that’s a really easy way to kind of show your worth to that community and to continue to try and drive the needle and push the initiative throughout the year. You know that you’re actively working on being able to break that stereotype of just throwing on the pride label when it’s appropriate.”

Latest Best Practices