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Family structures have been shifting for decades. From the idea that “it takes a village” to raise a child to the more recent concept of the nuclear family, the definition of the unit of community that takes care of its own is constantly evolving. One thing, however, is clear: families, however the term is defined, impact the mental health of their members. With that in mind, to lead into celebrating Pride at Lyra this year, we explored the ever-changing concept of family structures for members of our LGBTQIA+ community.
At our Intentional Conversations meeting–a monthly, employee-led conversation series facilitated by our DEIB team–we discussed diverse family structures, including LGBTQIA+, multi-generational, and caregiver households, and how those family structures impact the professional lives of Lyra employees (Lyrians). The following Q&A echoes the questions from our last conversation, where two Lyrians discussed their own families, experiences, and policies they hoped to see at Lyra to support families in the future.
Has your family structure affected the way you show up at previous companies?
Drew: There are so many aspects and intersections of my family structure and identity that hold varying levels of power, privilege, and oppression. In previous places, I coped by becoming really adept at code-switching – alternating between multiple identities or outward personas of who I was depending on the people I was with. This often meant that many previous companies lacked the psychological safety for me to show up as my authentic self.
Lauren: I once worked at an organization operating under certain exemption laws that permited discrimination against LGBTQIA people. Disclosing that I was queer and partnered to a woman would have led to my dismissal, no questions asked. Working in that kind of environment breeds a kind of fear that completely derails your productivity and makes it impossible to build authentic relationships with your colleagues and supervisors. I was ultimately more concerned about hiding my personal life than I was the success of the organization.
What would a great company benefit or perk to support a “modern family” look like?
Drew: Leading an intentional conversation around this topic was an incredibly humbling and eye-opening experience for me. It allowed us to catch a glimpse of the stressors, challenges, and moments of the “modern family” of our fellow Lyrians. Overwhelmingly, I saw that we need parity for our LGBTQIA+ Lyrians in family building in comparison to our non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts (i.e. fertility and adoption support). We also heard the critical need to support Lyrians who are caregivers for family members as well.
Lauren: The most common feedback I have received is the need for more robust family planning and caregiver benefits. Individuals on the fertility or adoption journey and those acting as primary caregivers have expressed a desire for emotional support groups, flexible time off policies and additional financial assistance. Modern families face unique challenges that require innovative and compassionate solutions from their organizational leaders.
How is Lyra currently supporting you and your family structure?
Drew: At Lyra, I feel so privileged and grateful to have a team and leaders that support me in showing up as my full self. Our managers model appropriate levels of vulnerability that create the space for my colleagues and me to share our own stories, challenges, and feelings. More importantly, I’m able to express my needs in constructive and honest ways that allow me to receive the support I need to manage my life outside of work.
Lauren: At Lyra, bringing my whole self to work is my job! I have the opportunity to share my stories, identities and lived experiences and create programming that affords the same opportunities to others. I feel so supported by my coworkers and supervisor as we strive to make Lyra a place where every employee feels seen, valued, and heard.
How can we challenge our own assumptions, support our colleagues in different family structures, and generally be better allies to the LGBTQIA+ community?
Drew: Given recent events that are impacting the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s important for all of us to recognize and honor the vast diversity of the queer community more broadly. Our community is not monolithic and we each come with our own intersecting identities and life experiences. Kamala Harris says in her recent book, “[i]n the years to come, what matters most is that we see ourselves in one another’s struggles”. This starts with “Looking Inwards” and seeing who are in the light and who are in the shadows as we take individual and collective action to create a more affirming community for all Lyrians.
Lauren: Support and advocate for equitable policies, procedures, compensation and benefits for your LGBTQIA+ colleagues. Create brave spaces that decenter ‘traditional’ family structures and elevate LGBTQIA+ voices on your team. Speak out when your company’s products, services and supply chain partners miss the mark on advocating for LGBTQIA+ representation and rights.
Interested in learning more about our culture? Apply to work at Lyra.
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