Changing The Workplace Environment And Becoming An Ally
Contributor, Laura McNamara has more than 20 years' worth of healthcare experience, with the past twelve years focused on compliance and ethics. She is currently the compliance officer for a clinical practice management plan and accountable care organization of an academic healthcare system. She leaped healthcare after many years in the food service industry, where she honed her sharp wit and strong customer service skills. Once in healthcare, she weaved her way through various healthcare roles, beginning as a scheduler at a dermatology clinic to an orthopedic clinical ward clerk, where she developed solid relationships with the healthcare providers she served. She caught the compliance and ethics bug when she became the new clinician compliance educator for a medical group in Eugene, Oregon. Her career has taken her to many places, including Seattle and Boston, before finding her professional home on Long Island, NY. In her spare time, Laura enjoys being by the water with her wife, Peg, and cuddling her four rescue dogs. You can find Laura on LinkedIn.
As Pride Month continues around the world in splashing colors and joyful celebration, we at WEC Global want to show our unwavering support for the LGBTQI+ community. It is upon us to show our allyship by celebrating this month to support our community and educate one another about what we can do to build an ecosystem where everyone feels heard, proud, and loved.
As professionals from ethics, compliance, governance, and HR, it is crucial to continue to push for cultural and political change. We still have a lot to do to abolish ignorance, harassment, and discrimination against the LGBTQI+ community.
Below is an interview we did with Laura McNamara, a member of WEC, who shares how we can support and help to create equality.
What does ethics mean to you?
Ethics is based on general standards of right and wrong that prescribe what one should do, typically in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, or specific virtues. For me, I keep it simple and describe ethics as doing the right thing. I act ethically by living by a personal credo based on integrity, honesty, accountability, fairness, and respect.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride Month means a lot to me. I take this time to make sure I am visible as a member of the LGBTQI community in my personal and professional life and on my social media platforms. The rainbow flag and my pronouns are displayed with pride year-round.
It's a time to remember that a riot started this movement. On that historic night at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, LGBTQI folx had enough of police brutality, and a revolution was born. We have come a long way, but there is still so much more to go, even in our own community. We must continue the hard work so that our Black, Latinx, Trans, the disabled, and other marginalized groups within the LGBTQI community feel supported, heard, and valued.
Which international issues affecting the global LGBTQI+ community are particularly on your mind?
A lot of progress has been made to secure protections for the LGBTQI community globally. But still, around eighty countries continue to criminalize us, with penalties including the death penalty. Moreover, across the globe, abuse and murder of LGBTQI individuals are often ignored and can be perpetrated by police, gangs, and even family members.
Mainly on my mind are the LGBTQI people in Central America who face high levels of violence, have limited protections under national law, and have fled home in significant numbers in recent years, undertaking perilous journeys to seek asylum in the United States. I believe the US government should vigorously protect these asylum seekers' abilities to safely cross the border into the United States and apply for asylum.
What do you think people can do this Pride Month to raise awareness about important issues that impact the global LGBTQI+ community?
I think there is a lot one can do this Pride Month to raise awareness, but first and foremost, it's vital to have a voice and visibility. Marching and attending demonstrations or protests, showing up at community events, and speaking out on social media platforms is a great way to discuss important issues that impact the global LGBTQI community. It's also vital to take some time to learn more about international organizations in the fight to end LGBTQI discrimination and consider how you might support their work. Get involved or donate to groups such as ILGA, LGBT Freedom Asylum Network, and Amnesty International, to name a few.
What are some strategies companies can follow to promote a positive and welcoming environment for colleagues who are LGBTQI+?
Pride Month is a great time to promote employee resource groups as they provide a safe space for employees to affirm their identities and empower staff to share their perspectives with the organization. Within these spaces, like-minded individuals can exchange ideas and advice, share resources, and show solidarity.
Employee resources are a way to ensure that the needs of all team members are addressed. However, if your organization is too small to host robust employee resource groups, you can point staff to industry or community organizations.
What's a question you never get asked that you'd love to answer?
"Would you like a larger budget?" To which I would respond, "Of course"! But all kidding aside, I think if I were given a blank check, I would be very judicious about my budget, investing in emerging training platforms and more professional development for the team. For example, I would love to dive deeper into producing microlearning videos and interactive training that result in higher trainee engagement.
And I work with an incredible team who do great things, and I want to ensure the organization continues supporting their professional or career goals so they can be our future leaders.
What are the dos and don'ts for corporations during Pride Month?
Do a lot! Highlight your LGBTQI employees and those in the community you serve. Donate to LGBTQI non-profit organizations and participate in community events. Patronize LGBTQI own/run businesses and highlight those businesses for your workforce to support. Be visible to LGBTQI youth and express your commitment to inclusivity.
Do not do anything! Don't do the bare minimum and just change your branding to rainbow for the month. And certainly, don't limit your support to the LGBTQI community to just June. Incorporate your support throughout the year.
What are some ideas for celebrating Pride Month in the remote workplace?
I've been loving all the LGBTQI virtual town halls and lunch and learns put together by organizations for their workforce. And it's even better when they are made available for the public to attend. I know I have joined several of these myself to understand better a company's commitment to the LGBTQI community and their support of issues we face. Another idea is to create company-specific rainbow logos for employees to use as Zoom or Teams backgrounds. Also, consider team-building events, such as LGBTQI trivia or bingo, or even a lunch hosted by a Drag Queen!
What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
It's a marathon, not a sprint. So fully embrace the space in which you are not a novice nor expert and seek more mentorship as you don't have to go through this alone.
If you had to choose an alternative career, what would you be doing now?
I would be working in healthcare operations, helping to build new service lines to reach a larger patient population. Sometimes in my role, I feel like my nose is pressed up against the window, watching all the action happening and seeing great things come to fruition. Luckily, I actively participate in this work as a compliance officer, but I miss the thrill of creating and directing new initiatives.
At the end of your career, if you were to sit and reflect, what one hope do you have?
I hope to reflect and see that I made a positive impact. I want to be remembered as someone who is helpful, intelligent, honest, and trustworthy. My professional legacy should be that I led with integrity and was always of service to others.