OAW(ON) News, Volume 1 Number 1, July 1994

Letter from the Steering Committee

Out At Work is an organization dedicated to providing the resources
and tools for gay, lesbian and bisexual employees and member groups
to help them:

  - Organize, educate others, and develop as effective, productive
    people in their jobs and their overall lives, 
  - Achieve an open, supportive workplace environment where
    non-discrimination policies are actively enforced and supported,
    as well as finding ways to activate domestic partnership

Out at Work also fosters an awareness in the general and executive
business community of the existence, contributions, needs and
challenges facing gay, lesbian and bisexual employees.

Out at Work is very proud to publish this, its first, newsletter.
Inside you will find a short history of recent meetings, columns
about local companies, and listings of upcoming events.  We are
excited to provide this information for you and welcome your comments
and suggestions.   Future editions of Out at Work News will have
book reviews, photos, meeting highlights and more.  If you have
suggestions, please call the Out at Work Hotline at 312-794-5218.

Signed, your steering team:

  Daniel Barcus, Jason Cohen, Lea Dottke, John Kinyon, David Parker,
  Therese Quinn, Diane Rigney, Roger Sullivan, and Greg Ward.

Around the Organizations Here are recent accomplishments at some of the companies where Out at Work participants have been striving to create change. People are generally finding a great deal to symbolic, and some substantive, support from the management of their companies. Where there are negative stories (and there are some), they are generally not able to be included in print for reasons of confidentiality. Abbott Laboratories The group has had good success using the Out at Work Hotline phone number in the ads they have placed in various publications. After one recent ad, the group took four calls from Abbott employees who hadn't previously known about the group. AT&T Thanks in large part to lobbying from LEAGUE (Lesbian, Gays and Bisexual United Employees at AT&T), the company is proactively marketing the gay, lesbian and bisexual community in a big way. 70,000 people received direct mailings in June highlighting the company's support of events like the Gay Games and of LEAGUE itself. Same sex couples were pictured, with quotes such as "When Bob is away on business, we like to stay in touch. I love knowing what he's thinking." For the first time this year, LEAGUE marched in Pride Parades around the country as an official AT&T entry. The group recently held its third annual Professional Development Conference. As in the past, the company paid for most of the participants to attend. Look for the groups strong participation at the Northalsted Market Days, July 30-31. Ameritech Lesbians and Gays at Ameritech recently sent a letter announcing its existence to the Human Resources departments of all 33 divisions of the company. The response was positive, with the company asking the group to sit down formally and talk. The group meets monthly at Ann Sathers. Arthur Andersen/Andersen Consulting ANGLES (Andersen Gay and Lesbian Employees) recently met with the worldwide Director of Human Resources and the Director of Human Resources responsible for half of Chicago-based employees. Both discussions were good initial meetings, including discussions of substantive issues, and follow-ups are planned. The group has monthly social lunches, monthly steering committee meetings and quarterly general business meetings. Baxter Healthcare BAGLE (Baxter Association of Gay and Lesbian Employees) has been in existence for 18 months. A monthly newsletter is circulated to employees in Chicago and at other facilities in the US. The steering committee meets monthly. Recently, a dialog was opened with management to discuss human rights and benefit policy issues. Follow-up meetings with members of the executive management team are planned for the near future. CTA Lesbian and Gays at the CTA was a huge hit at the Pride Parade. the crowds loved the miniature bus that was included, and many people seemed genuinely happy that a public agency like CTA would be supporting its lesbian and gay employees and our community. The group, and its founder Spenser Cook, got great publicity in a front page article in Windy City Times. Thanks to the group, the CTA now has an employee newsletter and phone line that all employee groups can use to publicize their events. The group meets monthly at Ann Sathers. Commonwealth Edison The group once again marched in the Pride Parade as an official entry of ComEd, using the official company float. Thanks in part to the group's lobbying, the company is expected to amend its EEO policy to include sexual orientation to be implemented by the end of June. A couple of books about gay issues were purchased for the company library and put on the recommended reading list for managers. The group's leader, Greg Ward, was asked to serve on a high-level HR task force. The company is now forming a Diversity Council. There are also plans for a new diversity management training program, including focus groups. ComEd also recently published an internal document on diversity issues that included a section called The Lavender Ceiling. FAA / U.S. Department of Transportation / Midwest GLOBE GLOBE got the FAA to add sexual orientation to its EEO policy and has been meeting with senior management in the agency. Support has been garnered from the African-American and women's employee groups, and also from the union. There has been some backlash from religious right employees, but the agency has demanded that employees treat each other with respect in the workplace. Financial Institutions (First Chicago, Northern Trust, Continental Bank, Prudential) Based on gay employees talking to the diversity committee, First Chicago is hiring Overlooked Opinions (a gay-owned market research firm) to hold focus groups of gay and lesbian employees, to help the company determine the needs of these employees. Northern Trust's diversity committee asked a gay and a lesbian employee to submit information about gay and lesbian employee needs. They also hired a consultant on the issue. A group is in the planning stages at Continental Bank. Focus groups are being formed at Prudential to look at gay/lesbian issues after the announcement of group forming in Minneapolis inspired negative mail. Legal Assistance Foundation Employees of the Legal Assistance Foundation were successful this May in obtaining domestic partnership benefits in their new union contract, making them one of the first Chicago-based organizations to win the benefit. Lesbian and Gay Cultural Workers The group has gotten approval to facilitate a panel discussion about gay/lesbian programming in museums, and marketing to lesbian/gay audiences at the Midwest Museum Conference this November. The group usually meets monthly at Randolf Street Gallery, but will be taking a summer vacation. Meetings resume in the fall. Recent member-led efforts include conducting a survey of local cultural institutions to assess which, if any, have anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and/or domestic partnership benefits. None have, so far! Motorola A group of Motorolans concerned with gay, lesbian, and bisexual (GLB) workforce diversity issues established an informal electronic network. Realizing that some Motorolans may believe that their privacy could be violated by participating in such an electronic network, or that some are unable to access a computer, the GWD Newsletter was created. GWD Newsletter is a synopsis of these discussions. Quaker Oats The gay and lesbian employee group A Safe Place was introduced to all Quaker employees through an article about employee affinity groups in the company newsletter. The company stated its support for these groups and told how to contact the group. Thanks to A Safe Place's efforts, sexual orientation is about to be added to the company's EEO statement.
Recent Press Mentions Windy City Times and Outlines continue to help us publicize our efforts by running our calendar listings. Gay Chicago Magazine recently ran two large articles which mentioned us, "Gay at the Office", the cover story in the April 28 issue, and "Out on a Job Interview?", written by our own John Kinyon, based on the presentation Jim Phetterplace gave at our April Meeting. A reporter from Time Magazine came to our May meeting as part of her research for an article which is scheduled to appear in late June.
Summary of Recent Meetings Our recent meetings were Highlighted by excellent speakers. We hope to continue this in the future. February 94 David Parker, Benefits Manager for Britannica Companies, spoke about "Maximizing Your Healthcare and Other Benefits at Work". David stressed the importance of not missing enrollment deadlines, when enrollment can not be denied due to health. Taking the highest levels of benefits offered at that time is also important. March 94 We heard first hand accounts of "Dealing with AIDS at Work", with a human resources manager, health educator and person with AIDS, all from ComEd, addressing the topic. Their experiences have varied with location and time, but the atmosphere has generally improved as AIDS hysteria has diminished. April 94 James Phetterplace, Jr., who works in the recruiting department of Amoco Corporation, spoke on ways to "Enter the Workplace as a Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Employee". Jim offered ideas on how to gauge if a company is gay friendly: what to look for before the interview, which questions to ask the recruiter, and what's not being said - reading between the lines. May 94 The May meeting, "Fired for Being Gay -- NOT!", focused on legal issues relating to workplace discrimination, including the city, county and (hopefully) statewide anti- discrimination ordinances. Larry McKeon, Mayor Daley's liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Joanne Trapani of the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, and Rick Garcia of the Illinois Federation for Human Rights addressed the topic.
What To Do If You Experience Discrimination At Work The City of Chicago and Cook County prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The county ordinance is overruled by any other specific ordinance which a community may have passed, so in Chicago, the city ordinance prevails. If you believe you are experiencing or have experienced discrimination at work, you should contact the Chicago Commission on Human Relations (312-744-4111) or the Cook County Commission on Human Rights (312-443-3456) within 180 days of the incident. If you file a complaint, adequate documentation will prove useful. You should document all relevant events and keep the log in some secure place not in the office. That way, if you are suddenly terminated you will not lose your documentation. Document things like prior appraisals, notable differences between how you are treated or appraised versus others, i.e. "I was written up for being 5 minutes late, but I observed three other staff arrive late that month who were not written up." If you file a complaint, the appropriate agency will review the case and contact the offending company to discuss the matter. Both commissions have had excellent success in resolving these issues. Normally, companies are not aware that discrimination is illegal, or in some cases it is not sanctioned by the company. Reinstatement with back-pay and behavioral changes are two of the most common resolutions when complaints are filed.

Out at Work News is published by Out at Work (or Not), an umbrella organization of Chicago-area lesbigay employee groups. Please contact us at OAWon@aol.com for permission to reprint information in Out at Work News.

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