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Paylocity's chief diversity officer on showing up for trans employees

Caroline Colvin (HR Dive)


Connecting employees to LGBTQ personal development resources can bring about critical change on their career path. However, gay and transgender professionals also need an environment in which they can thrive. Data from a 2018 Human Rights Campaign study suggests about 1 in 3 LGBTQ workers fear coming out due to stereotypes, the risk of making colleagues uncomfortable or losing co-workers.

Additionally, HRC's findings confirm hostile workplaces drive gay and trans employees to disengage: 13% and 17% of respondents said they feel exhausted from keeping their gender identity and sexuality, respectively, a secret. Likewise, 25% of respondents said that their unwelcoming work environment is distracting. Some went as far as to say they avoid office parties, happy hours, and lunches because they feel unwelcome.

Tauhidah Shakir joined Paylocity as its chief diversity officer and vice president of human resources in August 2020. But she had worked with the payroll and HRM software developer for two years prior as a diversity and inclusion consultant. In the year since she joined, Shakir has been advocating for honesty and collaboration between leadership and employees — especially LGBTQ employees at Paylocity.

HR Dive: In the press release about you joining Paylocity, something that stuck out to me was when you said you want to cultivate a workplace “where employees can bring their whole selves to work.” Can we talk about that in regard to LGBTQ identity?

TAUHIDAH SHAKIR: It's being able to talk about your partner and having more gender expansive policies. We're not just saying, 'Bring our whole selves to work,' and then we can't support that. Or we don't know how to have those conversations. It is not only saying that you are tolerant. But that you're welcoming and you're building an infrastructure to support them, which goes from benefits to policies to employee resources to creating that safe space for folks to be able to speak and talk and ask questions.

Can you tell me a bit about the LGBTQ employee resource groups at Paylocity?

It's really grassroots. All of our ERGs are funded by the organization, but we really want to make sure that they're employee-led. We don't want to have leaders get into a room and come up with things that we think would support the LGBTQ community. We started off having focus groups and listening sessions. Once the ERGs were established, then we really listened to our ERG leaders.

Anyone can have an event or have a moment. But it's more about legislation and making sure that we are supporting not just for our employees, but for the community as a whole. D&I is very broad and each community has specific needs. A lot of the work that we do comes from our ERGs sparking conversations and saying, 'Hey, have you thought about this?' or 'Is this something that we could do?'

When you talk about supporting LGBTQ folks outside of Paylocity employees, do you mean policy advocacy or volunteering? Can you speak some more about that?

When it comes to the [LGBTQ] business coalition, it's just being a part of a group of corporations that are saying, 'We want equality for the LGBTQ community. We want to make sure that folks in the community are treated fair and equally across the board.' So it's not just about wanting to do that and have that behavior within our organization, but we want to make sure that when we have an opportunity to support that legislation as well.

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    Company Culture
    Gender Equity/Diversity

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