By Valerie Milano
Las Vegas, NV (The Hollywood Times) 10/9/21 – Among ClexaCon’s most valuable contributions are their informative and candid panels. Their diversity and inclusion panel at the 2021 event was no exception.
Sy Bernabei does diversity and inclusion training for companies.
“It’s ongoing education,” she said during the panel. “We’re always adding letters (to LGBTQI). The key is education, working with your staff. Everyone needs to be trained.”
Liza Katsman said she was know as “the head gay” when she worked at Sony, heading up diversity. She said diversity training can be harder in some states because many offer diverse people no protection if their gender is revealed in the workplace.
“So we talk first about having a community of inclusion,” said Katsman. “Then we talk about diversity.” In any case, the attitude “has to come from the top down.”
Bernabei said it used to be thought that one out of 10 people were LGBTQ. Now it is believed to be about one in seven. It’s not that the percentage actually has grown, she said. “This means more people feel empowered” to give this information.
Companies that say they value diversity need to pay for it, Katsman said. That means putting your money where your mouth is, and giving capable employees promotions and raises.
Bernabei stated that it is easier to come out as diverse than it was several decades ago. In the ‘80s, aside from Elton John and Boy George, there were few celebrities who were open about it, she said. Not even Ellen DeGeneres at the time.
Katsman said diverse people need to ask hard questions of prospective employers, such as, “What is your diversity policy? What are you going to do to make people feel safe?”
“We have so much more power than you think,” she said.
Surveys say it costs companies in the $40,000 range to locate the top employees they consider worthy of offering a job to. If they do not promote diversity, she said, “Make it to the end (of the process) and then tell them to fuck themselves.”
Katsman also said that canceling people who have attitudes different from our own is not helpful. “Stop fucking canceling people and have difficult conversations,” she said. “When you cancel, you’re not doing enough and you’re not causing people to grow. Canceling people is not going to change their minds 99 percent of the time.”
Katsman added that the worst cancelers are the so-called “white social justice warriors.”
“A lot of people have pretty good intentions…Some people come after you on social media,” said Barnabei. “They’re just showing a lot of insecurity…They can’t control people and that really disturbs them.”
To sum up, cancel culture isn’t going to make lasting, meaningful changes. LGBTQ efforts should be educational and ongoing. And it’s important for companies to make people feel safe and empowered.