News | July 15, 2022
In conjunction with Pride Month in June, Sands invited Holly Reese, director of community engagement and advocacy at The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada (The Center), to speak with Team Members in a virtual learning session as part of the company’s In Focus DEI Conversation Series.
Much of Reese’s comments during the Pride Month session were centered on the power of appropriate and inclusive language as a way to practice sensitivity and connection in the workplace. She outlined the meaning of various LGBTQ+ language terms to provide understanding and discussed why using preferred pronouns and descriptions for gender identity and sexual orientation is a show of respect and kindness. For example, she outlined the difference between gender identity – what gender a person feels they are, regardless of physical attributes – and sexual orientation.
“These are two separate attributes of a person – one does not affect the other,” Reese said.
“For example, our brains are designed to assign ‘he’ or ‘she’ when we meet someone and hear their voice, but those terms don’t necessarily affect how a person identifies with gender. If they describe themselves as ‘they’ or ‘them’ it means their gender identity is something they are choosing to determine, and because we’re then using a plural to describe a singular person, it becomes a more difficult mental process.
“But those terms are used all the time when we don’t know gender identity. When an unidentified repair worker is coming to our homes, we say ‘how do we pay them.’ It’s a common practice, but it takes some getting used to in new situations. These are important conversations to have, and when they are done in a safe and respectful way, using inclusive language can go a long way to demonstrating respect and dignity, which benefits everyone.”
Reese noted that businesses have an important role to play in facilitating these types of conversations, starting with giving employees the opportunity to use their preferred pronouns. She also discussed the importance of businesses creating a safe environment for questions, conversations and listening; providing training to stay current with changes and practices; and having a human resources team that looks for resolutions to stay on a path that values all voices.
Reese closed the session with the key takeaway that while Pride Month is a moment in time, organizations should make time and space for ongoing conversations and commitments to inclusive practices. “While it’s good to celebrate and acknowledge Pride Month, these are discussions that can be had throughout the year,” she said. “The more we can learn about and from each other in safe places, the more we will see that our differences do not have to divide us.”
The In Focus DEI Conversation Series is part of Sands’ diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program, which aims to build a collaborative and integrated environment in the workplace, at its resorts and in its communities by removing systemic barriers and creating opportunities for underrepresented groups.
In addition to the In Focus Session, Sands also sponsored other Pride Month events held by The Center including its annual PrEP Rally to educate the community about HIV prevention and harm reduction resources, as well as National HIV Testing Day. These events were part of the Sands Cares 2022 engagement with The Center, which is supporting important capacity-building initiatives at The Center’s Arlene Cooper Community Health Center, to expand the services it provides for its communities.
To learn more about Sands’ support for The Center, please visit: https://www.sands.com/news/press/sands-extends-its-partnership-with-the-lgbtq-center-of-southern-nevada/