ITA Employee Launches LGBTQ Resource Site

man with a Flying LGBT flag

On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order #13988 – Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation - which affirmed that “every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love. And all persons should receive equal treatment under the law, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”

The GM’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Operations wanted to make it clear that ITA does not, and will not, condone workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) employees. To demonstrate its resolve, Sean McAlister voluntarily created a new virtual center for LGBTQ resources for employees called the “Safe Zone Project.”

Sean’s Safe Zone Project makes the department’s work environment more accessible, inclusive, and engaging for all LGBTQ employees and their allies. The very existence of the new Safe Zone Project personifies the ideals that Department shares for acceptance and inclusiveness as it continues its work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are. 

When Sean McAlister started designing the new LGBTQ+ Safe Zone Project in August 2021, it was envisioned as an online Global Markets resource center dedicated to human rights awareness and marginalized LBGTQ+ employees’ needs. In December 2021, the scope of his program was broadened to serve all Commerce employees and contractors.

To meet this greater need, Sean partnered with the Department’s Office of Civil Rights and DOC Commerce Pride resource group to enhance his site with new LGBTQ curricula, online LinkedIn Learning courses, Commerce-produced videos, job aids, and other federal resources. The result yielded a treasure trove of diversity, equality, inclusion, and awareness (DEIA) tools that would help Commerce LGBTQ employees and their allies. Sean also built the site to be static so that it could expand from year-to-year with new LGBTQ courses and videos in its growing learning resource library. Sean’s efforts were rewarded on June 29, 2022, when the Secretary of Commerce and the Acting Director for the Office of Civil Rights, launched the Safe Zone Project to the Department’s 70,000+ employees and contractors. As of June 30, 2022, eight of the twelve Commerce bureaus, had added a Safe Zone Projecthyperlink on their bureau’s human resource pages, thereby demonstrating the positive impact that Sean’s extracurricular work has had to the Department and ITA.