The Myers-Briggs Company Welcomes Guest Speaker Laila El-Metoui for Pride Month
Author Melissa Summer, The Myers-Briggs Company
Read time 4 min. read
This June in recognition of Pride month, the LGBTQIA+ employee resource group at The Myers-Briggs Company brought in a guest speaker to educate, enlighten and bring a perspective that employees may not have been aware of.
Inspirational Equity and Belonging Consultant, Laila El-Metoui has been promoting greater acceptance for the community in education, businesses and society for over 25 years. An award-winning role model, Laila combines personal experience as an Arab lesbian, with industry-leading strategies to champion more inclusive teams and environments.
Dedicating her career to educating on LGBTQIA+ rights, Laila is the Founder and CEO of Pride in Education, Educating Out Racism and an Equity and Belonging Consultant at LEMeducation. Through these roles, Laila has established LGBT+ training and support in school curriculums, held conferences that promote inclusivity and provided a queer education for hundreds of clients. Passionate to support employees in the workplace, she aims to raise awareness of the challenges women going through menopause may face in all aspects of life.
Some of the many topics covered included the difference between sex and gender, gender identity and gender expression, and sex and sexual orientation, as well as intersectionality, privilege, power and inclusion.
Privilege isn’t about what you’ve gone through, it’s about what you haven’t had to go through. ~Janaya Khan
One video that Laila shared that resonated with many employees was this video about privilege. In it, 10 people participated in an activity called the privilege walk. During the activity, 35 social advantages or disadvantages are read out loud, and people either take a step back if they benefitted from that privilege or took a step back if it was a disadvantage they experienced.
“It’s important to engage with issues around privileges and power,” said Laila after all attending watched the video together. ”It’s about asking who may be excluded or marginalized as the result of privilege.”
But some of the most powerful parts of the presentation came from the authentic and open stories that Laila shared about her own experiences.
For example, Laila shared that as a lesbian women, before she goes on vacation she has to check whether she might have an issue with her sexual orientation in a country she’s visiting. Why? Because homosexuality is still illegal in over 40 countries, and is punishable by death in 11 countries (as of the date of this post).
If you’ve never had to think about your sexual orientation being illegal, that’s privilege.
Intersectionality is a way of looking at social systems, and that many forms of discrimination might be there in multiple ways in everyday life. Understanding and addressing all potential roadblocks to someone’s well-being. ~Kimberle Crenshaw
Laila also talked about intersectionality, the definition of it and then shared her own personal experience that many found powerful.
“If I think about being a lesbian and an Arab, I don’t see myself represented in the media at all,” said Laila during the talk. “As a result of that, I have a lot of anxiety and have a hard time accepting my accomplishments. I feel like I have to work harder, and often doubt my ability…”
We’ve covered a few different topics around inclusion as it relates the workplace previously, such as the below articles and podcast episodes:
How to foster an inclusive culture in a diverse organization
To be an inclusive leader, you need to understand and respect personality preferences
How can you help managers develop an inclusive workplace for employees?
And we know from our own work as well as other training that inclusivity isn’t just about visible characteristics (color of your skin, gender identity, how you dress) but also about invisible characteristics (lived experience, sexual orientation, religion, personality and more).
“Words have power. Inclusive language is really important,” shared Laila during her stories about real people who’d experienced both lack of inclusion and inclusion in the workplace.
Personally, listening to Laila’s presentation made me think about my own privilege and lived experience. It also made me aware of struggles that I hadn’t considered previously, struggles that I never had to go through because of the privileges I have based on being cisgender, white, and in the socioeconomic middle class.
And I wasn’t the only one who Laila’s words made an impression on.
“The brilliant engagement initiated by Laila’s speaker event demonstrated the power of influential DEI speakers and changemakers,” said Tatum Cornille, Sales Representative for The Myers-Briggs Company and member of the employee working group. “Interactions such as these reflect The Myers-Briggs Company’s commitment to being our best as a community and the significance of diversity, inclusion, and development. As Laila illuminated, systems are ‘complicated, and growth happens when we welcome diversity by listening to others and remaining gentle with ourselves throughout the positive change.”
“As an LGBTQIA+ individual, I appreciated how Laila challenged us with an experience full of honest reflection and fostered an element of vulnerability that I believe will continue to enhance the change we aspire to support.”
Learn more about Laila El-Metoui and LEMeducation
Read last year’s Pride Month blog by CEO Jeff Hayes
Listen to The Myers-Briggs Company’s podcast episode on Inclusive LeadershipLearn more about the Inclusive Leadership Workshop