To kick start our new Meet & Greet series, myGwork talks to US-based member Tammi Wallace who shares her career journey and ‘passion work’ for economic equality for the LGBTQ+ community. She also provides great advice on inclusion, as well as some insights into both her work and social life.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey to date?
I started my career in financial services with companies such as Bank of America and Mellon Bank. My experience now ranges from the government to education to nonprofit management, as well as running my own business. I have been engaged with the LGBTQ+ community in Houston for 20+ years and, in 2016, I found my “passion work” as a Co-founder of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce. I currently serve as the President & CEO of the Chamber. I am passionate about the work around economic inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
What's the most challenging aspect of managing people right now?
There are so many challenges for people personally and professionally especially with mental exhaustion from the pandemic. I see this with many organizations that teams are just exhausted from dealing with the day-to-day that has been exacerbated by this global pandemic.
What attributes do you look for in new recruits and why?
I definitely look for a willingness to learn, adaptability/flexibility (especially in this quickly changing environment) and devotion to the cause; and, in our case with the Chamber, committed to economic inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community.
How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace for you personally?
LGBTQ+ inclusion is very important, as a person who was not able to be out in the early part of my career. Fast forward and I see LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace through two lenses: 1) the opportunity for our community to bring their full and authentic selves to the workplace, and 2) economic inclusion which helps drive a thriving economy and creates economic opportunities across the board.
What's your favourite inclusion campaign to date and why?
It’s really hard to narrow it down to only one campaign. These campaigns make a difference, especially where they connect people to stories and the vulnerabilities that the LGBTQ+ community faces. The campaigns change to not only make the LGBTQ+ community feel seen, valued and heard but they do change public perception and that is key to gaining support for LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion.
How do you encourage staff to have a work-life balance, especially with the increase in remote and hybrid working?
We’ve been working in a remote environment since we launched the Chamber opting not to use dollars on a physical office so that aspect was not a huge shift. The best encouragement is to give people the comfort level that they can shut off their computer, do not have to check emails and eliminate any expectation of an immediate response after hours or on weekends. I believe it’s up to us as leaders to set this expectation.
What's the biggest highlight of your career to date and why?
Co-founding the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the work that we’ve done over the past 6+ years to become the leading voice of the LGBTQ+ and Allied Business community in the region. Before the Chamber was created, there was no voice for the LGBTQ+ Business Community, no “seat at the table”… literally no representation. That has now changed, and the Chamber is recognised as one of the leading LGBTQ+ organizations in Houston, the region and across the state of Texas.
What was the last book you read? Any interesting takeaways and would you recommend it to fellow leaders?
Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman. The author really does an excellent job of piecing together some of the biggest changes as to how our lives have been transformed in every aspect by what is referred to as “tectonic movements” through technological changes. It’s thought-provoking, engaging and even unsettling.
What was your last holiday destination and where do you plan to visit next?
With the pandemic, I haven’t traveled in so long, but very much miss it! The last travel before the pandemic started was to Mexico City. It’s such an easy trip from Houston. Mexico City is an amazing mix of the urban core, history, people and unbelievable energy, not to mention the awesome food. My wife and I are hoping to get to Greece for the next trip. My DNA results revealed that I am about 12-14% Greek so I’m ready to learn more!
What do you do to unwind at the end of a hard day?
My unwind activity is definitely binge-watching a favorite show.
Check out Tammi's full profile and connect with her here.