5 questions with Susan Gore
Susan Gore, Ph.D., heads up The Mentor Group, which trains employees of clients in diversity and inclusion. In the 16 years she’s been with the company, she has worked with clients such as AT&T, Leadership Dallas and American Airlines. She has lived in Dallas for 18 years and been with her partner, Ann Wigodsky, for more than 15 years. Before The Mentor Group, Gore was a college professor in the U.S. and Europe, and introduced Women’s Studies to theU.S. Army.
How does “Diversity and Inclusion” training benefit a company? An employee?
“One size fits all” no longer works in business, if it ever did. Companies that can recognize and leverage the unique contributions each employee brings to their work are going to be more successful than those that don’t. Most people spend anywhere from 8 to 18 hours a day working. If you can team up effectively with people who have different skills or perspectives, you’re not only going to be more productive, you’ll enjoy the relationships more.
What are some common obstacles you face from the people you train?
Sometimes people believe they are powerless as individuals to “change the system” or they fear “what happens to me” change occurs. Both tend to show up as blaming someone else for the ways work doesn’t work or dismissing Diversity and Inclusion as political correctness run amok. As Gandhi said, you must be the change you want to see.
What are the greatest rewards/achievements you have garnered in your work?
It’s the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve developed over the years that matter most to me, whether it’s about work or any other part of my life. I don’t have a slick brochure or a marketing plan, yet I’ve been privileged to do work I love with people I respect for over 15 years. I think that would be almost anyone’s dream come true.
How do you define your own gender identity and sexual orientation? Why?
I’m comfortable with lots of different labels, but my friends probably would say I’m a femmie butch because I wear lipstick and swing a fair hammer. I also identify as bisexual in a 15-year lesbian relationship. One of the paradoxes of language is that language makes meaning – but labels are often inadequate to describe anyone’s real life.
What activities are you involved with outside of work?
Right now, I’m helping create a Center for Public Dialog at First Unitarian Church in Dallas and serving as board chair of Celebration On The Lake Church at Cedar Creek Lake. I’m writing a book, “Gays God and the Workplace,” with Rev. Harry Knox who heads up HRC’s Office of Religion and Faith. I’m on the National Advisory Board of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and worked with Astraea: The Lesbian Foundation for Justice on their retreat in Dallas this past November.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the GLBT community. It features those who often go unnoticed by the press and community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, contact staff writer Beth Freed at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 29, 2006.