Leslie McMurray, left, moderated a panel discussion on transitioning during employment with Jacqueline Evans, Lisa Tenorio and Rick Wilson, all from AT&T. (David Taffet/DallasVoice)

Embracing Different, presented by the North Texas Commission, was a day of presentations and workshops held on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Irving Convention Center. The North Texas Commission is a public-private partnership advancing North Texas as a great place to do business.

Joe May, chancellor of the Dallas County Community College and chairman of the North Texas Commission, said the day’s events would “go deeper into diversity topics than last year.”

He suggested that employee resource groups should work together to get better results, to help companies remain competitive and attract the diverse workforce companies need.

Amy Philbrook, director of diversity at Fidelity Investments, said change comes from small, individual actions that people take every day rather than just from big corporate policy changes. She said diverse companies are 20 to 30 percent more profitable than those that are not and suggested executives look at who they are mentoring and make sure that group is diverse.

AT&T’s chief of diversity Corey Anthony spoke about his company’s leadership that is “a value of the corporation.” He said his company has clear policies about “what is acceptable and what is not.” He said standing for equality is a value of the corporation.

AT&T’s LEAGUE was first LGBT employee resource group when it was created in the late 1980s and its nondiscrimination policies date back to 1975.

Resource Center’s Leslie McMurray moderated a group of AT&T employees who spoke about best practices for transitioning at work. The company begins with a discussion on how to handle the transition most respectfully for all sides. That includes recognizing the discomfort some people will have with the transition without compromising the rights of the person who is transitioning. The goal at AT&T is for every employee to bring their whole selves to work.

Other speakers included executives from Liberty Mutual, Citi, Parkland Hospital, American Airlines, American Heart Association, BNSF, Texas Health Resources and more. Some of those were interesting choices since BNSF received a 30 percent rating on the latest Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index and on the HRC Hospital Index no Texas Health Resources hospitals participated. Until recently, Presbyterian Hospital had no policies protecting LGBT employees or patients.

— David Taffet