Ask the White Guy: The Minority That Dares Not Speak Its Name

Question: I need to ask if it's appropriate to call you the Straight White Guy. Because my question involves the minority that often dares not speak its name in corporate America: the LGBT employee. In the eyes of Straight White Guys, are gay employees really Tier One minorities? I mean, we're not easily counted, the government doesn't require any accounting of us, and I've heard we inspire a certain "ick factor" in SWGs. Your observations, please?

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

At the risk of asking you to over-define yourself, I need to ask if it's appropriate to call you the Straight White Guy. Because my question involves the minority that often dares not speak its name in corporate America: the LGBT employee. In the eyes of Straight White Guys, are gay employees really Tier One minorities? I mean, we're not easily counted, the government doesn't require any accounting of us, and I've heard we inspire a certain "ick factor" in SWGs. Your observations, please?

Answer:

You raise a very good point. The de facto majority culture in this country is straight, white, male and without disabilities. That's not the real majority--not even close--but if you look at how our government and corporate cultures are formed, you'll see enormous overrepresentation of this group.

My creation of "Ask the White Guy" is intended to parody this situation while bringing understanding and clarity on best corporate practices and to answer some cultural questions from the perspective of this culture.

Underpinning the "ick factor," as you put it, is profound ignorance. I make it a point in my public speaking to point out that everyone knows someone who is LGBT. I continue the point by saying that if they don't think so, that's because something about them is keeping the LGBT people they know in the closet.

We have a list of the Top 10 companies for GLBT employees. In those companies, you are much more likely to find not only a safe place to work but a welcoming and nurturing place too.

A note of historic information: There was one government that did track LGBT people: Nazi Germany legally required LGBT people to wear pink triangles just like Jewish people had to wear a yellow Star of David. Those who wore the pink triangle shared the fate of their Jewish comrades.

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