“It’s a learning process for everyone and we are still learning and growing every day, trying to figure out how to navigate such a topic, especially in the workplace.”
In commemoration of Pride Month, Eliezer Timolien and Leo Lee discuss Diversity & Inclusion, approaching this important topic from the perspective of a professional from the LGBTQ+ community. In this open, candid conversation, Eli talks about his journey in commercial real estate: the obstacles, the notion of fitting in, his experience working in a predominantly homogenous industry – and overcoming such challenges to be his authentic self.
Eli and Leo tackle the concept of “making the uncomfortable feel comfortable” in an effort to improve awareness in the workplace and provide people both the ease and the environment to be their true selves. They talk about various training and resources (for both members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community) companies can design and deliver to further build on Diversity & Inclusion initiatives and maintain the momentum that has been collectively created – from inclusive benefits, to self-identification programs, to Employee Resource Groups.
Shedding light on challenges within the LGBTQ+ community itself, Eli says, “Even we face our own stigmas.” He goes on to speak about his experience dealing with implicit biases people have within the community that could create negative perceptions of certain identities. Looking back, Eli and Leo discuss the progress companies have made in fostering LGBTQ+-inclusive workplaces, and discuss what more can be done to bridge gaps, facilitate critical conversations and create a safe setting where people offer various perspectives.
In the long-term, Eli “would love to see the Diversity & Inclusion program shut down, but for good reason: that no one individual is considered marginalized; that everyone is considered equal in terms of the work that they are able to do, the skill sets that they are able to provide a company; that they’re able to secure appropriate salaries so we don’t have the wage gaps we’re seeing to this day…”
Eli and Leo agree “we have such a long way to go”, but are optimistic about the steps the company, the profession, have taken towards building a truly diverse and inclusive place for all.
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