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Why representation matters

dvm360 Pride Month Panel Discussion

What it’s like to be surrounded by allies

Content sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition

Content sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: I want to ask all of you what makes it okay to be in a safe space where we're working. You know, we all have different experiences and basher a practice consultant to, so when you go into practices, do you feel that? That it's a welcoming environment of course from client service but more of like from an LGBTQ+ representation? Is there anything that's there are practices, putting out flags to know that like representation matters? I'm curious to get all of your thoughts too but I want to ask Bash.

Bash Halow, LVT, CVPM: Well, you know, actually, at the Fetch conferences, I did this one lecture I want to do it again. It was called "Picture This," and it was my take on that you could walk into any veterinary any veterinary practice and immediately get a feel within the first 30 seconds of walking in the building, getting a feel for whether or not it was a happy team, whether it was a good environment, whether or not they did good medicine in 30 seconds, because all the signs are there. So in my, in my career, I don't recall any practice that I thought especially was, you know, was demonstrative of were open arms to the gay community; I can't think of that. But you walk in, and you see groups of people all together, and they're all driven by "we like what we do, and we enjoy the company of one another in what we do." And it's evident in...you see doctors putting together training things, and that'll be posted on the wall, or I just left a practice up in Northern California. And they have a small group of team members; it's called the Too Many Steps Group. And their job is to try to figure out how to do things more efficiently. And that group is filled with, it doesn't matter who you are, it just matters that you care about the business and advancing it forward. So those are the signs that you look for. But you know, my first practice that I ever worked for was in Chelsea, New York. And I didn't expect I you know, I didn't expect it, to join a practice that was gay, but it just so happened that the owner of that practice was gay, and it was married to a man and they were both professionals and successful. And it was so weird to be a part of the business where it was like a twilight zone where it's presumably a normal business. I mean, we weren't like the other gay businesses in Chelsea. We weren't like rainbows and triangles. We walked in you, like didn't get a spritz of glitter or what. We were just a regular high end veterinary hospital. However, the sun, the thing that we orbited around was this unit where a gay relationship was perfectly normal in a neighborhood where gay was perfectly normal. And I'm telling you, man, that changed everything in my life. I mean, it was so great to be successful, and be all of who I could be with that group. Really terrific.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: Yeah, that's powerful.

Jennifer Evans:

And I'll even throw something in on this a little bit. And I'm going to give a shout out to the Mars company on this because I'm in clinics all throughout Texas, and whether we want to believe it or not, there are times where I walk into a practice, and I don't feel safe, because our beliefs are different, right. And I can go into a practice: a VCA, a Banfield, a BluePearl. And so often, I see this little pride flag sticker that's on the front door. There's nothing else in this practice that says anything else about acceptance or welcoming or anything, there's just a sticker when you open the door that says, "You're safe here." And I think that is massive, and to match that energy. I took on my nametag and put my pronouns. So in the clinic that I walk into, because I want someone to walk up to me and see that one thing and say, "Oh, you're safe. You're safe, I'm safe with you." And I think that that's a huge thing. Little things like that absolutely matter and your company does a phenomenal job of that.

Michael Lark, CVT: I like to agree. I work for Banfield, as Jennifer knows, and Banfield was my first practice I've ever interviewed for. And one of the things that made me comfortable and like happy when I was interviewing is I saw like LGBTQ logos or whatever and there was a receptionist who was gay there and then I think her girlfriend had bought her somekind of rainbow cookies for her birthday or something. And one of the doctors was like "I'm gonna send this to my brother and my husband's and his husband." So, I just knewthere were allies there there was someone of the queer community, so I felt comfortable working there. And I also saw, because I started like mid May, so I saw Pride events and I saw like the eventually in June I saw like the screen had the pride the background and all that stuff. So just knowing that the company really supported the community, it was just so welcoming, valued and just great.

Omar Farías, VMD: I love where we're going. Like little things, like for example, just having your pronouns in, whether it's like a stethoscope clip, or, you know, your name tag is so important, because it signals to the individual that is walking in that, you know, sticker that you mentioned, and all those things are great. I also want to make sure that practices are also putting systems in place that also support the staff that is working for them. Because we also love that we're signaling to the customer, you know, the clientele and to others. But also making sure that they have the support, you know, the benefits that they need to have for their employees as well.

Erik Zager, DVM, DACVECC: And that's really important, as well, as far as you know, the actual logistics and management and making sure that your company policies and things like that are inclusive. So instead of having maternity and paternity leave, parental leave. It doesn't matter what gender you are, what you know, orientation you are. When you have a child, you know, you have that leave, making sure that you know, you are not adding kind of language that is heteronormative in your company policies and things like that. And making sure that, you know, if your partner is sick, you're able to go using those terms with your your employees and with your clients. You know, does your partner have any questions, things like that, to make sure that you are not assuming people's gender, assuming people's sexual orientation, assuming that and those things in both logistically from the management and benefits side, as well as the signalling side are both really important for the LGBTQ+.

Jennifer Evans: I love the call out for the client. Thank you for that.

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA: And I know that certain hospitals on their name tags, they also put the countries in which they're from, and also signals the languages that they can speak to create more of like a safe space in the exam room that I speak Spanish, or I speak Portuguese. I mean, just to really be very representative of the community in which they serve. And I think that's really brilliant, because I'll see the flag to like Puerto Rico, for instance, I was like, "Oh, I lived there too." And it just is like a nice vibe. And we're all about creating a connection in those exam rooms. We know that clients are more likely to do things and consent to treatment when they feel connected to you even further. I think just creates a deeper purpose of that.

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