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Did you know that:* 

  • Nearly two-thirds of self-identified LGBTQ Americans reported experiencing discrimination in their personal lives 

  • 46% of LGBTQ workers are closeted at work 

  • 13% felt that they would be fired because their workplace was unwelcoming of LGBTQ people 

Today is National Coming Out Day, which marks a time to recognize the LGBTQ community and create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ and Ally employees at work. This week also marked an important announcement for us at Dude Solutions. 

During our first LGBTQ+ Pride Panel on Wednesday, we announced plans to form our first employee resource group, specifically geared toward Pride, to form a more inclusive culture.  

The objective of this group will be to “build a network that brings together employees who identify as LGBTQ+ and Allies, and reinforce The Dude’s core values, for the benefit of all Dudes, our clients, our investors and our communities.” 

How the Idea for the Group Got Started 

This resource group will be led by Nicole Klemm, Director of the Office of Growth Initiatives, who also came out to the company at the event. 

Nicole said she was motivated by a Dude Talks with Stan Kimer on LGBTQ Diversity that Dude Solutions hosted in June. She said during the Q&A portion of the talk, someone asked how employees could make Dude Solutions better for LGBTQ people. Stan responded that having “out” executives on the leadership team is one of the most effective ways to foster LGBTQ inclusion, so employees can see a path to the leadership team that isn’t stopped by them being a member of the LGBTQ community. 

“Visibility helps foster inclusion,” Nicole says. “As [Stan] shared that, it really resonated with me. I thought back to earlier in my career, and my experiences at companies lacking diversity and with companies who were diversity champions and had ‘out’ members of their senior leadership team. As I realized what a difference out leadership make for me, I felt inspired to come out at The Dude as a member of our senior leadership team, with the hope it will be helpful to LGBTQ employees and Allies at The Dude who may be experiencing something similar, or who would love to advance their career but are not sure if they can do it here. The moment led to a conversation with Pam [Rose, Chief People & Culture Officer], which culminated in our National Coming Out Day event and Pride Panel, and the launch of our Pride Resource Group.” 

Here are some more stats that Nicole shared at the panel: 

“What’s really exciting to me is the opportunity to connect with those who may not know someone who is a member of the LGBTQ community. I believe most people are truly accepting, and for those who are not, it’s a matter of not having exposure,” Nicole says. “I see our Pride Resource Group as an awesome opportunity for us as a company and local community to start the conversation, put the issues on the table, and work together to make The Dude and our local communities a more inclusive, and welcoming environment.” 

She also punctuated how much productivity we could gain by making Dude Solutions a welcoming place to all. 

“This initiative is an important one to punctuate the Dude’s philosophy of being a welcoming place for everyone,” CEO Ed Roshitsh says. “By specifically supporting this day and other important initiatives, it is my hope that we continue to attract and retain the best and brightest folks.” 

Goals of the Pride Resource Group 

Specific goals for the Pride Resource Group will be to: 

  • Foster an inclusive work environment that inspires all employees to do the best work of their lives 

  • Provide advice, guidance and recommendations to HR and leadership for workplace policies and practices related to the LGBTQ+ community 

  • Serve as a support network for LGBTQ+ and ally employees, ensuring all have the opportunities to succeed and develop at The Dude 

  • Recruitment initiatives to target top talent from LGBTQ+ communities 

Another specific goal is to achieve a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2022 Corporate Equality Index. 

“I want The Dude to be one of the most welcoming places on the planet as an employer,” Ed says. 

The Panel & The Future of the Group 

The panel included Stan Kimer, President & Founder of Total Engagement Consulting; Laura King, Senior Account Representative at Dude Solutions; John Schobel, Founder & CEO of RegEd; and Nicole Klemm.  

During the panel discussion, these are some of the topics that were discussed: 

  • Personal coming out stories 

  • How being out has impacted their careers and challenges faced 

  • How allies have helped and offered support 

One goal of the panel was to start the conversation about coming out in the workplace and supporting the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Dude Solutions is a place where you can bring your whole self to work and you can advance as far as your desire and talents will take you,” Nicole says of Dude Solutions. “The company has a unique characteristic of truly caring about each other as a community, more than just a company. I think this becomes another thread of fabric to add to that community, and our first step on that journey is to start the conversation.” 

How Dude Employees Can Get Involved 

Every Dude employee is welcome to join, whether they’re a part of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally and advocate for them. 

“I would love it if every single employee was a member of this group. It’s not just a Dude issue. It offers an exciting opportunity for us to set an example and lead from the front in our local communities as well,” Nicole says. 

“I hope people walk away from this day with an understanding, a more open mind and a consciousness that at the core, we are all just people trying to live, work and play like the next person without being ostracized, judged or minimized for any reason,” Ed says. 

Nicole sums it up well by sharing how this initiative could shape The Dude’s future. 

“I think we’re at this unique inflection point as a society where corporations and companies are really starting to step up and go beyond their profit-driven mission to be social responsible leaders in the community, including advocacy for LGBTQ+ and other marginalized groups, in their recognition that all people deserve and want to be treated equally. I am proud that we can count Dude Solutions as part of this group.” 

*"A Workplace Divided," Human Rights Campaign

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