Learning & Development, Talent

College Intern Creates Training Program on Transgender Issues

Do you think more about what your organization can teach college interns than about what you can learn from them? If so, you might be missing out on a valuable learning opportunity.

Last summer, First Data recognized the unique perspective that one of its college interns, who is transgender, could offer its HR and leadership team. An executive asked the intern to create a training program on transgender issues, says Karen Whalen, senior vice president, human resources. The culmination of the intern’s efforts was Transgender 101, a training program that he initially presented to First Data’s global HR organization in Atlanta 1 year ago.

More than 200 First Data leaders and HR professionals attended the instructor-led session, in-person or via phone or video broadcast, says Whalen. The 90-minute session included at least 30 minutes of questions and covered a variety of topics: terms that “are not necessarily common,” such as “cisgender,” “trans man,” and “trans woman”; the use of pronouns and why it is important to use the right one—and what to do if you don’t (i.e., “If you make a mistake, just acknowledge it, and move on”); and the definitions of gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and biological gender.

“I think, for a lot of people, this was all new, and they had never thought about it before,” Whalen says.

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