How to be Inclusive: METRO launches virtual inclusivity training for businesses in Tampa Bay

Image of laptop screen with trainer discussing topc

Now more than ever before, local business leaders are working toward creating inclusive environments for employees, clients and customers. For some, the path toward inclusivity and equity isn’t quite clear. Local nonprofit Metro Inclusive Health has developed an inclusivity training program to start and guide the difficult conversations. Amid the global pandemic, the nonprofit has also figured out how to offer such training virtually.

LGBTQ+ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Trainings have been proven to promote inclusive practices among staff and foster a culture of overall excellence.

Each session includes a no cost 15-minute consultation to discuss how our trainer can tailor the LGBTQ+ DEI Training to your industry.

Major organizations in Tampa Bay participate in inclusivity training 

Large organizations have taken part in the training to begin to evolve company culture. Those businesses include Franklin Templeton, Nielsen, PSCU, Raymond James & Assoc., and The General Insurance.

“From the executives to the frontline staff, everyone feels better equipped to embody empathy and respect for all people at the end of the training,” said Cole Foust, LGBTQ+ Division Manager for Metro Inclusive Health. “Every organization has blind spots in their policies and procedures that negatively affect the LGBTQ+ community, especially those who are transgender or gender non-conforming.”

Screenshot of a laptop during a virtual training session

Smith & Associates Real Estate joins virtual training session

Smith & Associates, a real estate brokerage in St. Petersburg, most recently completed the virtual inclusivity training.

“We had recently hired an employee that fits the status of gender-neutral which had our team learning the correct way of addressing this new employee,” said Bob Glaser, President/CEO of Smith & Associates Real Estate. “Being ‘inclusive’ means understanding an individual’s needs and their desires of a community, of a home’s features, and more importantly speaking to that customer in a way that provides dignity for who they are during what generally the largest financial decision in their lives.”

The Smith team features more than 300 associates and 40 staff spread among 6 offices throughout the region.

Prioritize difficult conversations 

For business owners wondering where to begin, Cole Foust has some advice about what you can do right now to make your organization more inclusive. It starts with prioritizing the difficult conversations.

“Whether it is booking a company-wide training to equip everyone with knowledge and awareness, or scheduling a meeting with senior level management to restructure procedures in a way that affirm diversity of gender, relationship dynamic, and sexual orientation.”

METRO received multiple inquiries over the years about inclusivity training, with major spike in 2019. “We identified that other social services agencies could benefit from learning about the best practices we’ve established over our many years of experience working with the LGBTQ+ community,” said Foust.

Screenshot of a laptop screen that reads "Deconstructing Gender Stereotypes"

Virtual training eliminates geographic barriers to program 

There have been a few iterations of METRO’s LGBTQ+ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training program over the years, each version with more or less focus on subpopulations of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the non-profit.

METRO has reconfigured its training and now offer it virtually to ensure the safety of all involved.

“In efforts to provide this information in safe way during the pandemic, we offer trainings on a virtual video conferencing platform which has eliminated geographical barriers and increased participation nation-wide,” notes Foust.

Learn inclusivity with METRO 

Those interested in learning more about the training can visit METRO’s website.

Follow Metro Inclusive Health on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on programs from the non-profit.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of ilovetheburg.com. Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to info@ilovetheburg.com.