Kristin Leayman praises PPL for its progressiveness
Upon starting her job as a human resources specialist for PPL Corporation, Kristin Leayman quickly displayed photos of her wife and young son on her new desk.
For members of the LGBT community, this can be a nerve-racking experience. But, Leayman was pleasantly surprised by the reaction from co-workers – nothing but welcoming and support.
“PPL is the first company I worked for where I thought, ‘This is what it’s like to work for a company that’s truly inclusive,’” Leayman said.
Leayman shared her story during the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce’s LGBT Business Summit on March 6 at Moravian College in Bethlehem. PPL was one of many companies to sponsor the event, which was designed partly to instruct employers how to provide more inclusive workplaces for LGBT employees.
Leayman and two other presenters spoke during a breakout session called, “Transitioning with your transgender employees.” The panel discussed how to support transgender employees who are transitioning and their co-workers.
Leayman said PPL is committed to having the difficult discussions needed to get topics out in the open in the workplace. She said PPL’s leaders are “fully invested in diversity and inclusion.” That, she said, produces a trickle-down effect to employees, which creates a respectful and productive working environment, resulting in LGBT employees being comfortable and more productive.
“It comes from the leaders – the top down,” Leayman said.
The summit’s morning keynote speaker, Amber Hikes, offered some staggering statistics while urging business leaders to become more inclusive.
Hikes, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said one in four LGBT employees have reported experiencing employment discrimination over the past five years; the unemployment rate for transgender people is three times higher than the national average; and LGBT people who are closeted at work are 73 percent more likely to want to leave their companies within the next three years.
“Many of us spend long hours in our workplaces,” Hikes said. “So, it’s important to be welcomed and affirmed there.”