Mar 16 • 3 min read
Share
Helen Fitzpatrick, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, delivers her keynote address at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. (Jim Roese Photography)

Helen Fitzpatrick, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, delivers her keynote address at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. (Jim Roese Photography)

Gender and sexual identity should not hinder a person’s success in the business community. That was the message of Helen Fitzpatrick, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office and keynote speaker at “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business.”

The March 9 event discussed obstacles faced in the business world by openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA) individuals. Temple University’s Institute of Management Accountants (IMA-T) chapter and the Temple University Queer Student Union (QSU) co-sponsored the event, which gathered prominent members of Philadelphia’s LGBT community at Temple’s Alter Hall to speak to Fox School of Business students.

“We hope that this will build awareness of the many issues and challenges LGBT students face upon entering a business environment,” said Luis Ortiz, IMA-T co-president and a senior Accounting and Finance major. “This event could be a step toward creating an LGBT organization specifically for Fox Students.”

Titus Knox, president of the Temple University Queer Student Union, far right, speaks during the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. Knox was joined in a panel discussion by Helen Fitzpatrick, far left, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, and Matthew Ray, center, co-founder and creative director of ChatterBlast Media. (Jim Roese Photography)

Titus Knox, president of the Temple University Queer Student Union, far right, speaks during the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. Knox was joined in a panel discussion by Helen Fitzpatrick, far left, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, and Matthew Ray, center, co-founder and creative director of ChatterBlast Media. (Jim Roese Photography)

Ortiz and IMA-T co-president Asad Ali Naqvi, a senior Finance major at the Fox School,  along with QSU president Titus Knox, collaborated to create the event.

For Fitzpatrick, the first step in combatting discrimination based upon sexuality or gender identification begins with understanding the relationship between diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity divides us, it highlights our differences, and makes us separate,” Fitzpatrick said. “But inclusion is diversity in action.”

Fitzpatrick, a former city prosecutor and LGBT liaison for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, moved to Philadelphia in 2008 on the strength of the city’s lesbian and gay communities. As a prosecutor she championed the rights of other LGBT attorneys and found her niche as an agent of change. It was during this time she realized that having openly gay or lesbian members of an organization was diverse, but to ensure they received the same respect and opportunities as everyone else was where diversity and inclusion met.

Helen Fitzpatrick, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, meets with attendees at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. (Jim Roese Photography)

Helen Fitzpatrick, director of the City of Philadelphia’s LGBT Affairs Office, meets with attendees at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. at the Fox School’s “Bridging the Gap: LGBTQIA in Business” event. (Jim Roese Photography)

Addressing Fox School students and staff, Fitzpatrick highlighted her current work with the LGBT Affairs Office in creating gender-neutral bathrooms around the city. She encouraged anyone entering the business field to be their own advocate and demand the respect they deserve as human beings.

“It’s important to know how you’re perceived and how to communicate who you are,” Fitzpatrick said. “The LGBT community is here and it’s time we’re included at the business table.”

Following her keynote address, Fitzpatrick led a panel discussion on representing the LGBT community in Philadelphia’s business scene along with ChatterBlast Media co-founder and creative director Matthew Ray. A Temple alumnus who has been openly gay since college, Ray protested homogeneity. He urged everyone to fight against a group-think mentality that asks people to deny who they are.

“Anyone who is anything should be open and proud about it,” Ray said.