Employee Resource Groups
Education, Advocacy at Heart of SPECTRA
Education, Advocacy at Heart of SPECTRA
SPECTRA hosts its annual LGBTQ Brown Bag Discussion and Ice Cream Social, but members of the employee resource group take pride in their tireless advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer/questioning employees year-round.
"Many people are not aware of the difficulties that LGBTQ employees can face in the workplace," said Elaina, a member of SPECTRA's communications team. "Our goal is to educate employees and interns, and raise awareness about some of the barriers they have to overcome. It's a broadening experience, learning about other populations in Corning."
Doni said the goal is to create welcoming and inclusive spaces for all employees. "We hope to increase awareness about issues that touch LGBTQ lives, and in turn, enable all employees to be more effective and comfortable talking about these issues," said Doni.
One of the barriers for people is fear of harassment or discrimination in the workplace. One of SPECTRA's key activities is to educate. Through education, we make progress and reach a state of appreciation for our differences.
SPECTRA is Good for Business
SPECTRA, founded in 1999, welcomes all employees and has many members who are allies, people who do not identify as LGBTQ, said Christine Heckle. "We hope to create more allies by providing them with tools they can use to combat harassment and discrimination when they see it," said Christine.
In addition to being able to help contribute to the group's goals, allies bring a different perspective and life experience to the table, said Amy, one of the group's founders. "There have been many occasions where LGBTQ members of SPECTRA were concerned about a course of action, and ally members were able to help them see that their concerns were unfounded."
Many people are not aware of the difficulties that LGBTQ employees can face in the workplace. Our goal is to educate employees and interns, and raise awareness about some of the barriers they have to overcome.
There are many economic, business, and personal performance benefits when making the business case for inclusion, Elaina said.
"Inclusion results in higher levels of enterprise, creativity, and innovation, and diverse and inclusive companies are better able to attract and retain talented employees," she said. "Individuals working in inclusive environments are able to bring their whole selves to work, fostering higher levels of productivity and job satisfaction."
Being inclusive enables Corning to hire the best people, Amy said. "Including more perspectives and experiences leads to better decisions and outcomes and higher-quality innovation."
Corning One of the Best of the Best
Corning was recognized recently for its commitment to diversity and inclusion by receiving a Best of the Best Award for the second year in a row. Corning was one of 45 companies nationally to receive the award from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and its National Business Inclusion Consortium, a coalition of diverse business organizations. The winners were selected based on their responses to a detailed survey about their inclusion programs.
Annette, a member who was in Washington, D.C., in April when Corning received the award, said she was proud and honored to be one of about a dozen employees representing Corning. "SPECTRA's focused mission and vision, along with the many accomplishments over the years, has contributed to Corning's ability to be viewed as industry leading in this area," said Annette.
Reaching out to Employees and Community
SPECTRA reaches employees in many ways. It provides training opportunities, including brown-bag lunches, and has booths with information at diversity fairs across the corporation. There are also events that are open to the community.
Bob joined SPECTRA five years ago because he admired the group and its members. He has helped organize the group's Stepping Out events, in which LGBTQ comics perform in a public venue. The group sponsored comedians the last four years but was unable to schedule one this year.
"Joining SPECTRA is a great way to learn about LGBTQ issues and their communities and show your support," Bob said.
SPECTRA's focused mission and vision, along with the many accomplishments over the years, has contributed to Corning's ability to be viewed as industry leading in this area.
Corning is also a sponsor for the AIDS Ride for Life, a bicycle ride – riders can go from 14 to 102 miles – around Cayuga Lake near Ithaca, N.Y.
"I sponsor this event with SPECTRA because it is a great way to connect with other employees and contribute to a great cause," said Christy Pambianchi, Senior Vice President, Human Resources. "I have personally done the ride four times, and each time I've made new friends at Corning and learned more about how to advance equality and inclusion for our LGBTQ community."
SPECTRA's Amy is among the riders, and she recruits others to ride. "It's a great way to get many people together to have a great time, enjoy some fantastic scenery, and support the Southern Tier AIDS Program," she said.
SPECTRA's vision of a safe and inclusive workplace is gradually getting closer, Amy said.
"I am proud of what SPECTRA has accomplished," she said. "It's great to be part of an organization that participates in making the world more inclusive, that fights for the rights of all of its employees. There is more work to be done, but we are making strides."