City Hall

SOGI Training Offers New Perspective

Customer Service takes Center Stage for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Cultural Competency Training.

Cambridge strives to be a welcoming and inclusive community and City officials took that one step further this past year by implementing mandatory Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Cultural Competency training for City employees.

Couple being married
Cambridge made history on May 17, 2004, twice in fact,as the first city in the country to accept marriage intentions from same sex applicants and the first to “officially” and legally marry a same sex couple.

The initial recommendation for this training came from the City’s LGBTQ+ Commission (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) since many LGBTQ+ individuals experience discrimination and exclusion at different points in their lives. Through this training, Cambridge hopes to further ensure that all residents feel fully welcomed and included in municipal life.

“The City’s leadership was extremely supportive of this initiative and encouraged employee involvement in a process to determine the training topics needed to help them deliver City services in ways making LGBTQ+ members of the public feel welcomed with the highest quality customer service possible and that this same respect be given to all LGBTQ+ employees as well,” said Jackie Phillips, Director of Training and Development for the City of Cambridge.

Designing the Program: An Inclusive Process

A collaborative process was launched, inviting interested employees to assist in the development of an engaging learning experience while meeting an aggressive workshop schedule.

The Fenway Institute was hired to help develop customized SOGI training for the City. As a result, the training provided an appropriate balance of respecting the personal comfort level of our employees who came to the workshop with a wide range of beliefs while effectively educating them about SOGI issues and potential barriers during the delivery of City services.

Following test presentations, the training was further refined to include even more personal experiences and stories from the diverse group of instructors.

1,000 Employees Gain New Customer Service Skills

“Between September and December 2017, approximately 1,000 employees participated in the training,” said Phillips, adding that each 3-hour training class taught basic concepts and terminology, reviewed LGBTQ+ stigma and disparities, and utilized case scenarios to cultivate an understanding of daily experiences in the lives of both LGBTQ+ residents and LGBTQ+ employees in the City of Cambridge. The classes were taught by a team of ten instructors, local LGBTQ+ leaders with extensive experience in community education and engagement.

“Based on participant feedback and evaluations, we think the program has been quite successful and has most definitely raised awareness levels.”

Seniors walking down street
The mission of the Cambridge LGBTQ+ Commission is to advocate for a culture of respect and to monitor progress toward equality of all persons with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Our commitment to providing the most welcoming and inclusive environment for our employees and residents is a top priority for us,” said City Manager Louis DePasquale. “I think the SOGI training program has definitely helped us make significant progress in this arena and makes Cambridge an even better place to live and work.”

Published by

Lee Gianetti

Director of Communications and Community Relations