When I looked up at the calendar and realized it was already July, I couldn’t believe it. How is Pride over already? I didn’t make it to 1 parade. Not one party. Not even a gay bar.
I blame it on the whirlwind I’ve been living in the last few weeks. Almost every day in June, I was on virtual stages – with old friends, new friends, and all on my own to speak about pronouns, allyship, inclusive candidate experiences, and trans awareness.
As May was ending, I remember time spent worrying if I was ready for this. Was I prepared to sacrifice my story in front of strangers? Did I know enough to speak as an expert?
Fact: I signed the contracts, so I was going to find out whether I was ready or not.
I booked my June calendar as if I was booking an entire month to talk about job postings. It’s truly unlike any speaking I’ve ever done. I didn’t fully acknowledge that before engaging in these events.
It’s not just what I do but talking to people about who I am. Do this, check that, all set? Not so much when we’re talking about policy, healthcare, and my life.
I cried every single day in June that I spoke on this topic. I’m not a crier. It takes a lot for me to break the proverbial crying seal. Not this month. Not as I was reliving the traumas and moments that fueled my fears for years. Years of lived experiences in a series of stories.
It was also insanely healing. I got to listen to parents advocate for and love their children so hard. I saw the joy in stranger’s smiles. I had the opportunity to be there for folks who sent follow-up messages about how they lived the change. I mean, the panel helped an entire healthcare system in the South incorporate pronouns into patient records. How freaking cool is that?
I am teaching people how to help someone feel safe in a world that makes many feel helpless. That’s everything. Because the truth is, every audience member may not 100% understand pronouns or the anti-trans legislation after going to the presentation. They may not know what it feels like to be gay. That’s not my point.
I am in these workplaces to teach them how to make other people feel safe being who they are. Imagine what it feels like to be safe and work in an environment where we know we can thrive and are supported. That’s what I want to teach people how to create, not some “do’s and don’ts” list for bathroom etiquette and pronouns.
Safe: An Exercise
With that said, I’d like to teach you today. This is how I start my presentations on this topic and what I’d like to leave you inspired by this week.
I’d like you to think of someone who makes you feel safe. Maybe someone who impacted you early in your life. Perhaps it’s someone you work with today. They make you feel safe.
Who just popped into your mind? Write the name down on a piece of paper. Your goal from here forward is to help other people feel 1% of the safety and warmth that person made you feel.
How? This is work we can do year-round, not just during Pride month. Read that blog. Add pronouns to your signature. Hire me to teach your team (and you) how to make people feel safer to be who they are.
Anything you can do to put that feeling out into the world for even one person? That makes you an ally. That’s how you get to change the world. It has to happen more often than that one event every June.
While there have been many trophy moments in June, the real wins are when I know this work is changing the world a little bit while it’s changing me. I feel more hopeful about what’s next as I surround myself with companies that care about how their people walk in this world, not just at work. If they’re able to make someone feel 1% safer because of something I did – whether it’s at work, in their community, at their house, or anywhere else? I’m fulfilling my life’s purpose, not just creating content. I’m making the world safer for people, especially those who want to be out of the closet.
Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.
Katrina has written for Monster.com, HR.com, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.