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United Way Blog

Belonging, Being Seen & Understood

As a transgender woman starting my first new job since publicly transitioning, I was nervous. What sort of environment I would be walking into as a program manager with United Way of Greater Houston?

It can be exhausting to have to constantly explain yourself and your identity, but United Way and the work of our Diversity Cross-Functional Team helped lift the burden of having to educate others about my identity.

At first, I was comforted by United Way’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging statement and the nondiscrimination policy. Then, I was further reassured by the decision of our HR department to update our dress code policy to be more inclusive in not only its language but dress requirements as well.

I was still nervous, but the work that I saw the Diversity Cross-Functional Team doing internally for the organization gave me hope. They hosted a knowledge session featuring one of Houston’s largest LGBTQIA+ resource centers and United Way partner agency, The Montrose Center, which also did wonders to make me feel more comfortable working here. The presentation was LGBTQIA+ 101, introducing staff to different terms and concepts about my community. The session was led by a member of the transgender community, and after that presentation, I felt seen and understood by my colleagues.

The team also sent information about International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated each year on March 31. While it may seem small, that acknowledgment further reassured my belonging. 

By sharing resources, hosting knowledge sessions, and encouraging open and honest dialogue between staff, the Diversity Cross-Functional Team has cultivated an environment of reflection and growth within the organization, which helps us better serve our community.

I have worked at United Way of Greater Houston for the last 18 months. I came on as part of our education team and have since become a compliance analyst working with our funded agencies. Additionally, I now serve as a member of the Diversity Cross-Functional Team -- which helps bring a lens of inclusion and equity to all my work. Now, I'm part of United Way's effort to help every staff person feel like they can be their authentic selves.

It's all part of United Way's larger work, across 37 countries and territories, to galvanize people and organizations to build strong, equitable and resilient communities where everyone can thrive.  

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