It has recently been brought to my attention that a dear friend of mine has been subjected to a Berks County work environment where bigotry, hatred and discrimination take precedence. This individual witnessed abhorrent behavior that was directed at members of the public as they exited the office after seeking services.
The behavior included expressions of racism, antisemitism, homophobia, ageism, classism and economic oppression. All but one member of the small staff participated in the continuous banter at the expense of everyone else who happened to be there.
My friend lasted only a few days in that position and walked out without notice. Identifying as part of the LGBTQ+ community as a staunch ally, they were mortified.
Discrimination, in any form, is a pressing issue that we must address at every level of society, including the places where people work. It poses significant challenges to our community’s values of equity and fairness.
It perpetuates division and inequality. It hinders the fundamental principle of equity, denying individuals their right to participate fully and contribute to overall growth and well-being. By marginalizing certain groups, we hinder our collective potential and restrict the diverse perspectives and talents that could enrich the work being done.
It fosters an atmosphere of fear, exclusion, and injustice. When individuals are subjected to bias and prejudice within their own community, they face emotional and psychological harm.
This not only diminishes their sense of belonging and self-worth but also undermines social cohesion and trust.
Businesses and government offices should be places where everyone feels safe, supported, and respected, regardless of their background or identity.
Our workplaces should serve as beacons of fairness and equality, upholding the inherent dignity and worth of every person.
By actively working to eliminate discrimination, we demonstrate our commitment to the values that define us as a community and pave the way for a more just and harmonious society.
Additionally, embracing inclusivity and dismantling discriminatory barriers enhance our local economy, boost productivity, and ensure a thriving and prosperous community.
My friend remains frightened of possible repercussions should they go public with the story and therefore will remain in the shadows. I respect that decision, but I have an obligation to the LGBTQ+ community — and our allies — to be a voice for those without.
We know this is just one office/business/organization in Berks County of many that perpetuate the same abhorrent behavior. The LGBT Center of Greater Reading pledges to expand our educational program outreach and advocacy efforts to mitigate the ignorance.
So, what can you do if you find yourself in a similar situation? You can contact the LGBT Center. We provide advocacy and resources for those facing discrimination. We also provide professional development, consultation and inclusivity audits to organizations, businesses, health care providers, higher learning institutions and more, to ensure a culture of diversity, equity, inclusivity and belonging.
Additionally, you can support our work in the community by volunteering your time, sharing information with your family and friends about our programs and services, or by donating.
Dech is CEO of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading.
Source: Berkshire mont