At Foundation Medicine, we are committed to fostering an environment that empowers employees to bring their authentic selves to work and provides a supportive space for employees to reach their full potential. The month of June provides us with the opportunity to highlight our year-round efforts to embrace unique perspectives and make space for all of our employees to share their passions. PRIDE month at Foundation Medicine was celebrated with a variety of events for employees, including trainings and educational sessions related to parenthood and allyship. Members of our PROUD employee resource network collaborated to host informative virtual events that were well attended by employees across our locations who were eager to learn and demonstrate allyship.
Ovia Health Event
The first event in the series, Pathways to Parenthood, was hosted in partnership with Ovia Health and facilitated by Molly (she/her/hers) and Maddy (she/her/hers), members of our Benefits team. Ovia Health is a family health benefits platform that provides its customers with support, answers, tools, and resources so that they can be best prepared for parenthood. The session focused on the many pathways to parenthood for LGBTQ+ employees, as well as others seeking fertility and adoption resources.
Ovia featured “Anthony,” a 36-year-old software developer, as a case example. Anthony had previously struggled with the birth of his first child, and he utilizes Ovia Parenting to prepare emotionally, mentally, and financially for the birth of his second child. Health coaches are available 365 days a year and are dedicated to responding to questions based upon the client’s individual needs, and those of their child. Community forums and lifestyle concierge services are engagement options for parents until their child is seventeen, so that coaching and connections may be available throughout the childhood journey. Each pathway to parenthood is unique, which is why Foundation Medicine saw the value in bringing Ovia Health services to employees to ensure that inclusive collateral is made available year-round, covering adoption, surrogacy, and LGBTQ+ families. One way for all parents to celebrate PRIDE all year long is with inclusive children’s books, and suggestions can be found through Ovia Health.
Foundation Medicine is dedicated to the growth of its employees, and one way this is achieved is through education. PFLAG is a national organization dedicated to providing support for families with LGBTQ+ youth through education, and advocacy. In two separate sessions, Tracy (she/her/hers) and Emma (she/her/hers), program manager and program assistant, respectively, from the Greater Boston chapter of PFLAG joined Foundation Medicine for a conversation on LGBTQ+ issues and identities. Topics covered included correct LGBTQ+ language and terminology, the difference between gender identity, sex assigned at birth, gender expression, and sexual orientation, and steps to becoming a more effective ally.
Tracy commenced the conversation by showing a video by the Human Rights Campaign about trans folks in the workplace, and the messages helped to guide the conversation. One key takeaway is that it is always professional courtesy to ask employees about their preferred pronouns, and this act also demonstrates a level of caring. The concept of intersectionality was then presented in order to illustrate why LGBTQ+ people may face different challenges in the workplace. Intersectionality is a term introduced in 1991 by Dr. Kimberlee Crenshaw, and it represents the notion that we all hold different identities that intersect with each other, and some identities hold more social privilege than others. Gender identity, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, and race are intersections to consider when trying to be the best ally in the workplace.
A more supportive workplace environment comes with change, which is driven by education about concepts and terminology. Tracy prefaced the conversation by acknowledging that the concepts presented may best be understood as being on a spectrum, such as gender identity. Gender identity is one’s internal understanding of their identity as a man, woman, both, and neither. For a cisgender woman, the sex assigned at birth matches her gender identity. For transgender folks, this does not hold true. This gender identity may be thought of as an “umbrella term,” which represents the many ways folks can experience being transgender. One form of etiquette when interacting with transgender people is the use of “gender neutral” language, such as “y’all,” or “folks,” which may create a more comfortable environment by not assuming someone is male or female. Pronouns may also be inclusive, such as using “they,” as a default. If a mistake is made, self-correction is key. While gender identity may be thought of as an internal knowledge of gender, gender expression is how this is demonstrated to the world. Folks may be described as “gender expansive” when gender expression differs from society’s expectations based upon sex assigned at birth. The proper usage of the word “queer” was discussed following the presentation of gender-related concepts. Queer may be used to describe sexual orientation and has recently been reclaimed as a positive word for folks who hold true to that identity.
The breath of information presented during these sessions reinforced for employees that there is room for constant discussion about LGBTQ+ identities, and that thoughtful questioning may be a conducive way to foster learning and acceptance. One consideration prior to asking a question is whether the information that may be requested is necessary to be respectful to someone.
Throughout the month of June, we were pleased to see employees’ engagement and desire to increase their education and become better allies to their colleagues, their friends and families, and their communities.
Towards the end of the month we are looking forward to a Pride-themed Zoom Party featuring Drag Queen BINGO, and a meet and greet with members of the PROUD steering committee.
- For more information about Foundation Medicine’s commitment to furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, click here.
- Don’t miss our Telly Award-winning video for Transgender Day of Visibility that highlights the importance of diversity in the workplace.
- Our senior head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Edwina Mays, recently recorded a podcast with Ovia Health about diversity initiatives at Foundation Medicine.