Newsletter: Best Practices in Inclusion and Allyship

We hope that you had an incredible Pride month in June, and we’re excited to be able to share our latest resources to help you and your teams continue to celebrate LGBTQ+ professionals year-round!

Topics in this newsletter include:

  • Trans Workplace Inclusion Series recap and resources
  • Reflections on Pride season
  • Allyship best practices and resources
  • PIOW Blog updates
  • Sponsor Spotlight: Careers at HarbourVest Partners

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

The Do’s and Dont’s of Trans Allyship

In May and June, we were joined by two panels of gender-diverse professionals and industry leaders to explore best practices in workplace inclusion. We learned that allyship is an ongoing practice of educating oneself, listening to understand the needs of others, and taking action to advocate for those in the community you’re trying to support. However we identify individually, allyship is something that we all must work towards together. Take the next step on your allyship journey with PIOW’s Do’s and Don’ts of Trans Allyship.

“There’s no one right way to be an ally and being an ally should be a verb. You’re taking action.”

Trevor Boylston (he/him)
Learning from Lived Experience Panelist

Allyship Do’s

  • Treat people as they want to be treated.
  • Clarify the names and pronouns that should be used in different professional contexts.
  • Follow the lead of the trans person.
  • Reflect internally on what it means to be an ally.
  • Normalize sharing pronouns in meetings, conversations, and email signatures.
  • Practice allyship authentically and consistently across all spaces.
  • Be brave and speak up in support of trans colleagues.
  • Take proactive steps to create and signal inclusivity.
  • Take action by voting in favor of legislation supporting trans professionals and communities.
  • Leverage corporate responsibility programs to advocate for progressive policies on a larger scale.

Allyship Don’ts

  • Don’t out people without their permission.
  • Don’t assume you know what trans people need.
  • Don’t assume all people have the same transition goals or timelines.
  • Don’t offer suggestions or comment on physical appearances unless your input is requested.
  • Don’t single out coworkers based on gender identity or expression.

We would like to thank Trevor Boylston, Ryan Rasdall, Cheryl Katon, and Irene Brank for sharing their allyship best practices during our recent programming.

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Balancing the Burden of Education with Trevor Boylston

On May 20, Trevor Boylston joined us for the first installment of PIOW’s Trans Workplace Inclusion Series. As a panelist on the Learning from Lived Experience Panel, Trevor spoke to the challenges of existing as an out transgender man in professional spaces, as well as the opportunities for learning and change that can present themselves when you choose to share your identity with those around you. Watch the Balancing the Burden of Education feature to learn about Trevor’s story.

Balancing Emotional and Professional Work

It should never be the responsibility of trans employees to share personal information or educate coworkers about gender identity, expression, or related topics. With that in mind, it is a reality that the burden of the “educator” role often falls on trans professionals’ shoulders. Because of this reality, individuals should be prepared to set boundaries with coworkers and companies should be held accountable for providing accessible resources to train staff and alleviate pressure placed on diverse employees.

Written nondiscrimination and trans-affirming policies alone won’t guarantee that a space is safe for transgender and non-binary professionals. In Balancing the Burden of Education, Trevor shares that a coworker repeatedly chose to make transgender jokes in the office and nearby managers failed to implement existing policy to shut down this behavior. Trevor adopted the role of a mediator and educator by pulling his coworker aside for a one-on-one discussion. Engaging in vulnerable conversations and listening with empathy can catalyze personal and organizational change. In Trevor’s case, this moment led to his coming out and inspiring others to commit to allyship and share their own stories more openly.

For trans and non-binary employees: If you choose to educate those around you or advocate on behalf of trans communities, find ways to ground the emotional work you’re engaged in. Differentiate between what can be addressed on an individual level and what topics or incidents should be escalated within your organization. Ask your HR or DEI departments for resources or trainings that match the intensity of requests being made by coworkers. 

Trans employees are often forced to find a balance between protecting themselves, performing emotional work, and performing the job for which they were hired. This balancing act can be taxing, demoralizing, and will ultimately lead to a loss of productivity if adequate support is not provided by allies and company leadership. 

Organizations can make educational resources and scheduled trainings visible so that trans professionals aren’t positioned as the primary educators within a company. HR departments can work with DEI and ERG teams to clearly outline procedures for reporting or escalating incidents internally. This can help trans employees offload the weight of sharing their own stories and taking on the personal stories of others. Sharing our experiences and learning from each other can be incredibly rewarding, but this level of emotional work should not be expected of trans employees or established as a norm. Interested organizations can find specific support strategies in our Do’s and Don’ts of Trans Allyship blogpost

For allies: Allyship is an ongoing commitment to support the needs of transgender and non-binary individuals and communities. If you hear somebody making transgender jokes or using transphobic language, speak up in the moment or report such instances to an appropriate team or supervisor. Whether or not you’re aware of affected transgender employees in the room, leverage your privilege, shut down inappropriate conversations, and educate those who are making insensitive comments. Hold yourself accountable as an ally by downloading our LGBTQ+ Allyship Checklist and Educational Resources.

We would like to thank Trevor for taking the time to share his story with our team and event attendees. To hear more from Trevor and all of our event panelists, watch full recordings of our Trans Workplace Inclusion Series online.

Meet Trevor Boylston

Trevor Boylston (he/him) is a Sr. Analyst, Source & Procure, for Boston Scientific, providing procurement support for OEM material in the endoscopy and urology business units. When he’s not focused on supplier diversity, Trevor also acts as the Global Lead for Boston Scientific’s LGBTQ+ ERG called “PRIDE” –  Promoting Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, & Equality, and volunteers his time as an  LGBTQ+ Inclusive Workplace Speaker. Trevor is a member of the Board of Directors at Fenway Health, serving on the Finance Committee.

Watch the Learning from Lived Experience Panel to hear more about Trevor’s career and LGBTQ+ inclusion work.

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Trans Workplace Inclusion Series – Recap and Resources

Drawing from the lived experience of trans professionals and industry leaders, PIOW’s Trans Workplace Inclusion Series explored the complexities of coming out and transitioning in professional spaces, strategies for seeking and signaling allyship, and the need to back inclusion policies with consistent trans-affirming practices. Watch the Learning from Lived Experience Panel and the Implementing Policy and Best Practices Panel below or on PIOW’s YouTube page. Continue reading for our series recap, best practices, and a digital download to share with your team.

Supporting trans professionals

Companies should be proactive, not reactive, in creating trans-inclusive policies and resources. If a company waits until hiring trans employees or until someone comes out to develop training and implement inclusion policies, the organization is already behind.

  • Allyship is a constant practice of supporting others and is something that we all work towards. Commit to connecting with trans professionals, learning more about community needs, and leveraging your privilege to advocate for equitable spaces for all employees.
  • It is not the responsibility of trans employees to educate coworkers or company leadership. The experience of educating can be exhausting or triggering and will take away from office productivity. For trans professionals, set boundaries about what you’re comfortable sharing and what resources you need to protect your own mental health.
  • Believe and support trans people when they choose to share their experiences. Follow the lead of trans employees in keeping shared information private and using appropriate pronouns across various professional contexts.

Policy vs. Practice

While it is important to include “gender identity and expression” in your workplace nondiscrimination statement, companies must go deeper than written policies to adequately support their employees with inclusive and affirming practices.

  • Embed diversity, equity, and inclusion training in the employee onboarding process. Provide resources addressing transgender and non-binary identities, pronoun usage, and allyship strategies. If you don’t have the ability to develop these resources internally, hire a consultant to write policies and train staff. Make these resources easily accessible online.
  • Communicate to employees, clients, and external stakeholders that your company has a zero-tolerance policy for transphobic jokes, language, and harassment. If you notice a pattern of transphobic behavior, alert the appropriate department in your organization or, depending on the context and frequency of comments, confront individuals directly.
  • Continuously recruit and track the retention of gender-diverse employees. Offer surveys and exit interviews to understand how you can better support current and future staff.

Event Recordings

Panel 1: Learning from Lived Experience

5.20.21 Trans Workplace Inclusion Panel

Our first session aimed to amplify the voices of trans professionals speaking to the current state of trans inclusion and (in)equity at work.

We would like to thank Cheryl Katon, Ryan Rasdall, and Trevor Boylston for sharing their stories with us. We would also like to thank Tori Kaufmann-Paulman for moderating this discussion.

Panel 2: Implementing Policy and Best Practices

6.02.21 Trans Workplace Inclusion Panel

Our second session featured industry leaders and consultants diving deeper into best practices in implementing impactful trans workplace policies and fostering cultures of belonging.

Pride in Our Workplace also thanks Ellen LaPointe, Irene Brank, Jennifer L. Levi, and Colleen Simonelli for sharing their insights in the second part of this series.

PDF Digital Download

Stay informed about best practices in workplace inclusion.

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

LBGTQ+ Allyship Checklist and Educational Resources

The end of June marks the end of LGBTQ+ Pride month, but it shouldn’t mark the end of LGBTQ+ allyship. As this month comes to a close, PIOW encourages everyone to commit or recommit to supporting all members of the LGBTQ+ community year-round.

Not sure where to start? Our team created an LGBTQ+ allyship checklist to meet you wherever you are in your allyship journey. This guide outlines actionable steps to better support LGBTQ+ professionals, paired with educational resources for those interested in continuing their education. We invite you to download this sheet, share it with your team, and begin integrating acts of allyship into your day-to-day life.

PDF Digital Download

Stay informed about allyship best practices.

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Expanding our Board

Pride in Our Workplace is run by a passionate group of LGBTQ+ professionals, advocates, and allies. Collectively, PIOW’s Board of Directors brings together decades of DEI experience and industry leadership to influence LGBTQ+ workplace equity on a larger scale. Our signature programming is made possible by the time and expertise volunteered by this leadership team. We are grateful for everyone’s dedication to this work.

After a year of organizational growth, our team is excited to announce that we have welcomed six members onto our Board of Directors. Without further ado, join us in welcoming the newest members of the PIOW team!

We would like to welcome Bryan Vermes, Cheryl Katon, Dimitri Makris, Emma Callahan, Jonathan Allen, and Katie Martell as the newest members of PIOW’s Board of Directors. It is an honor to have each of these individuals joining our team. Their voices have already begun to shape our work and we look forward to the impact they will have on our organization going forward. 

To meet all members of PIOW’s Board, visit our leadership page. You’ll find each person’s bio, along with additional insight into the role they play in our organization. If you’re interested in connecting with anyone on our team, email

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Celebration, Education, and Accountability on Juneteenth

June 18, 2021

Juneteenth is recognized as a pivotal day in the history of the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect nationally in 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, that slavery was abolished in Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth, alternatively referred to as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Liberation or Emancipation Day, now commemorates the official end of slavery in our country. It allows for the celebration of freedom and progress, while prompting reflection on historical challenges and institutions that continue to perpetuate racial violence and discrimination today.

Progress towards a more equitable future can begin when we center Black LGBTQ+ individuals, experiences, and histories in our collective advocacy. In recognizing Juneteenth, we stand against information injustice — the disproportionate distribution and access to information and resources across communities. By deepening our understanding of the systemic oppression faced by Black and marginalized communities, we become better equipped to push for larger workplace and societal change.

Revisiting: Courageous Conversations on Race Equity

In recognition of Juneteenth and its new designation as a federal holiday, we are revisiting our racial equity programming to frame the intersection of LGBTQ+ equality and racial justice in a more historical context.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your advocacy, start here. Educate yourself and hold others accountable. Transition away from circular conversations about racial inequities and make a commitment to develop or influence impactful inclusion policies.

This video includes clips from PIOW’s 2020 Racial Equity Programming. Featured panelists include Gary Bailey and Jonathan Allen. Gary Bailey (he/him) is a Professor of Practice at Simmons College and Jonathan Allen (he/him) is the Co-Founder and Director of Philanthropy and Partnerships at Leadership Brainery. Since recording this panel, Jonathan has joined PIOW’s Board of Directors. We are grateful for their perspectives and thank them for sharing their stories with us.

This Juneteenth, we encourage you to celebrate the progress we have made while acknowledging the racial equity work that still needs to be done. See below for actionable steps you can take to educate colleagues and promote accountability in your own organization.

For Companies and Organizations:
Companies and organizations have the visibility and resources needed to facilitate change in our society. By supporting racial justice initiatives, you can shift public discourse while building a more equitable environment for your employees internally. Make proactive choices to incorporate education on race into your leadership development processes. Invest financial and social capital in the uplift of Black communities, creating career pipelines for Black students and professionals. Prioritize the recruitment of Black talent and track retention data. Learn the difference between dialogue and debate, and listen to those highlighting the need for change within your organization. Intentionality is key in fostering a supportive environment where all employees can thrive.

Acknowledge Juneteenth (June 19) as a paid holiday. Pair any public statements or internal emails about Juneteenth with insight into how your organization’s strategy aligns with key priorities of the Black and African American communities. Consider selecting Juneteenth as an annual day of accountability, during which you measure the progress of your team’s diversity initiatives or organize opportunities for employees to continue their education and volunteer within the community. 

For Employees: 
Driving noticeable change within your organization requires both grassroots momentum and senior leadership support. Organize your peers through the creation of an employee resource group or leverage your existing ERG’s executive sponsor to gain credibility, visibility, and access to decision-makers within your company. Identify allies on your team and tell them how and when they can support your goals. Collect numerical data and employee surveys to create trackable outcomes that you can present to leadership. Combine this data with elements of educational storytelling to make a more compelling case for the development of programming or broader inclusion policy. If additional support is required, connect with organizations or consultants specializing in diversity, equity, and inclusion to help communicate your needs to your employer.

Our Commitment: 
We stand as a board and an organization for freedom, racial equality, and justice and against racism. We are committed to continually amplifying Black LGBTQ+ perspectives in our programming and resource creation. We will challenge ourselves to center intersectionality at the forefront of our work to ensure that our organization is reflective of the community it serves and seeks to represent.

We would like to thank the following PIOW Board Members for their contributions to this piece: Bryan Vermes, Karen Young, John Basile, Jonathan Allen, Matt McTygue, Tori Kaufmann-Paulman, and Wendell K. Chestnut.

If there are topics you would like to see us cover in the future or if you have any feedback to offer our organization, please reach out to 

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Newsletter: Spring Updates and Events

April 21, 2021

The PIOW team has had a busy first quarter. Learn more about what we’ve been up to and what our organization has planned for the future in our most recent newsletter, linked below.

Topics in this quarter’s newsletter include:

  • Announcement of the upcoming PIOW Trans Workplace Inclusion Series
  • Coping & hoping as a community
  • Reflecting on racial equity
  • PIOW Blog update
  • Organization growth and updates

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Opening Dialogues on Racial Equity

April 16, 2021

“Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or that fail to eliminate them.” 

Source: Racial Equity Tools, CAPD

How can individuals begin to address racial inequities at work? What steps can we take to ensure the creation of more equitable spaces for all employees in our organizations? 

In June and October of 2020, Pride in Our Workplace posed these questions to community leaders in the two-part virtual panel series titled, The Intersection of LGBTQ+ Equality and Racial Justice. Key takeaways from our conversations highlighted the importance of keeping intentionality at the forefront of DEI decisions, ensuring that diverse voices are present and heard, and holding space to educate oneself and others.

It can take time to move the needle on diversity, equity, and inclusion at the structural level. However, there are small actions that we can all integrate into our daily lives to advocate for more equitable spaces within our organizations. In the PIOW 10 Entries to Equity video, panelists identified 10 ways that individuals and teams can amplify diverse voices and jumpstart conversations about racial equity at work. You can watch this video below and continue reading to discover additional resources.

  1. Connect with coworkers from different backgrounds. 
  2. Change up the content you consume regularly. 
  3. Ensure that diverse perspectives are present at decision-making tables. 
  4. Acknowledge the historical realities of impacted communities. 
  5. Define actionable steps to drive your organization towards a more equitable future. 
  1. Interrogate your own intentionality. 
  2. Review existing DEI programs through the lens of intersectionality and improve upon existing gaps. 
  3. Take responsibility for personal biases and commit yourself to allyship moving forward. 
  4. Bring in community partners to educate leadership and employees within your organization. 
  5. Use what you’ve learned to transition your allyship into action.

We would like to thank featured speakers for participating in last year’s programming and sharing their perspectives with us. To hear more from our panelists, check out the Courageous Conversations on Race Equity video, which dives deeper into the ways systemic racism and social injustice continually prompt the need for DEI and a recommitment to anti-racist practices.

As an additional resource, the PIOW team worked with panelists to create a downloadable list of Employer Anti-Racism Best Practices. In order to advocate for meaningful change, it is essential that corporate leadership, managers, and employees develop the language to address issues of race at work. We recommend referencing the Racial Equity Tools online glossary and resource guide to help define and contextualize industry terms and broader concepts around racial inclusion. 

Whether you’re speaking on behalf of your own identity or stepping up as an ally, we hope you can use these tools to open dialogues around diversity and inclusion in your organization.

Resources mentioned in this post:

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199

Data-Driven DEI Strategies with Cogo Labs’ Braden Marstaller

March 16, 2021

During February’s Cope & Hope virtual event, PIOW President John Basile had the opportunity to interview Cogo Labs’ Braden Marstaller. Although Braden is still early in his career, he is already leading his ERG, pushing innovative DEI solutions, and championing LGBTQ+ inclusion at work. We are delighted to be able to share our conversation with Braden in its entirety and hope that you find it valuable. Keep scrolling for exclusive tips on how you can implement these strategies in your company. 

A Data-Driven Approach to DEI

While fostering an inclusive work environment has always been a central driving point at Cogo Labs, the company lacked the formalized policies to back up their passion. Following the appointment of a new company CEO, the Cogo team launched a grassroots, employee-led effort to audit the company internally and assess how to best support, recruit, and retain diverse talent. 

To accomplish this, a full-time analyst transitioned her role and dedicated a quarter of her time to review company recruiting, retention, and promotion data to identify potential blindspots and areas for improvement. Existing and incoming employees were given the opportunity to voluntarily self-report demographic information to ensure that programs were being created to support all employees across the company. This quantitative data was combined with qualitative data from interviews and focus groups asking existing employees about areas of support they felt needed improvement. 

Tip: While there is an altruistic case for DEI initiatives, company leadership often responds to evidence supporting the business case for these programs. After conducting an internal audit, you can leverage quantitative and qualitative data to map the connections between employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. 

Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Council Development 

In 2019, Braden built out a Diversity, Equity, and Belonging Council to help bridge the gap between Cogo’s actions and intentions as an organization. This DE&B Council meets twice a month and consists of the company CEO, employee resource group chairs, and two rotating members from different departments within the company. These last two members rotate every six months, ensuring the integration of fresh perspectives on the council. 

Tip: If you’re looking to create a similar council in your company, consider adding rotating committee members. By rotating members regularly, you provide the opportunity for employees with varying levels of seniority, DEI exposure, and departmental responsibilities to add their voices and unique perspectives to the conversation. Serving for a shorter term also lessens the commitment for folks who may be hesitant to join a committee, which can boost employees’ willingness to get involved. 

Employee Resource Groups & Support Strategies

Braden leads Cogo Spectra, an LGBTQ+ ERG with the mission to foster an inclusive environment of affirmation through acts of service, community events, recruiting outreach, and active dialogue about the unique challenges facing LGBTQ+ people in the workplace.

Spectra supports roughly 70 LGBTQ+ and allied employees across Cogo and its incubated companies. While working remotely, Spectra members have hosted dialogues, movie nights, and Pride events to continue building an inclusive community while striving to increase the recruitment and retention of LGBTQ+ folks.

Amidst the uncertainties of 2020, Braden launched weekly company-wide safe space lunches to help employees cope with workplace and personal stressors in a supportive environment. This group set guidelines, offered trigger warnings, and shifted the frequency and length of sessions based on employee need.

Tip: If you’re looking to support your ERG, find a way to apply your skillset to help further the mission of the group. For example, Braden writes for Cogo Labs’ company blog. He uses his marketing background to write blog posts that highlight LGBTQ+ voices and boost the profile of Cogo Spectra. 

Now more than ever, employees are looking for support and understanding from their employers. Whether it be through an employee resource group or other means, creating opportunities for community at work can help combat feelings of isolation and promote a culture of belonging.

We would like to thank Braden Marstaller for taking the time to share his story with our team and event attendees. We look forward to keeping up with his career and seeing what he accomplishes next! Our work wouldn’t be possible without passionate professionals like Braden and the support of our incredible sponsors. The commitment of Cogo Labs to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workspaces will continue to drive our work and inspire us to deliver on our mission. Learn more about Braden and Cogo Labs below.

About Cogo Labs

Cogo Labs is more than a startup incubator. Located in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, they are building companies, accelerating careers, and pioneering innovative, data-driven ways to transform the Boston tech community and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Learn more by visiting Cogo Labs online.

About Braden Marstaller

Braden Marstaller (he/him) is a Brand Marketing Associate at Cogo Labs. View more of Braden’s work and DEI efforts on the Cogo Labs blog.

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Pride in Our Workplace (PIOW)
c/o Locke Lord LLP
111 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02199