MNclusive, State’s first Employee Resource Group, ready to celebrate fourth anniversary
Four years ago this August, MAPE member KB Brietzke helped Minnesota launch its first Statewide Employee Resource Group (ERG), MNclusive. Since then, six other ERGs have been developed, several co-founded by other MAPE members.
The State’s ERGs are intentional groups of employees building a broader culture of inclusion across the state enterprise. These groups embrace diverse cultures, professional development and community involvement. ERGs work closely with Minnesota Management and Budget's (MMB) Diversity and Inclusion Program to ensure group activities align with diversity and inclusion efforts.
“When I saw the announcement about the ability to create statewide Employee Resource Groups in 2018, I contacted MMB. It was a requirement that groups have at least five people who wanted to join but I didn’t know five people who were part of the community. I asked MMB to let me know if four others talked with them, and that’s how MNclusive got started,” Brietzke (pronouns they/them), who served as the group’s first chair for 2.5 years, said.
MNclusive now has more than 200 members.
MNclusive is the inclusive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Employee Resource Group. MNclusive is committed to providing a forum for connecting, networking, and professional development within the context of State of Minnesota LGBTQIA+ employment.
“It’s important to have a sense of community to not feel like you are the only one or token person within your agency. It’s also very important that we have these groups so when there are projects that impact our community, leadership can come to us,” Local 2101’s Brietzke said. “We see procedures go through and often there is no thought to how they will impact our community – we want to be involved to make sure our issues are being considered. We’ve created trainings and hosted different information seminars.”
MNclusive created Pronouns In the Workplace, a voluntary statewide training on pronoun uses within the community. “It’s available to all employees and is self-guided and voiced by many members of our community,” Brietzke said. The training can be found on the Employee Self Service Portal.
One of MNclusive’s first initiatives was expansion of sex, pronouns and gender options. Earlier this week, MMB and MNIT announced they had partnered with MNclusive to give employees more options to describe their individual identities. Employees may now choose to make the following updates in the Self Service Portal:
- Sex: Employees will have a new option of “other” in addition to “female” and “male.”
- Pronoun: Employees will have the option to voluntarily state their pronouns.
- Gender Identity: A new field will be added for employees to voluntarily state their gender identity.
Employees are not required to provide this data in Self Service. If they choose to provide pronoun data, it will appear in their work-related Microsoft products (Outlook, Teams, SharePoint, etc.). Employees may update Self Service on their own without any documentation or approval process.
Brietzke noted that “Changes are happening outside our workplace – it’s happening here in our culture. I feel very proud and grateful for the culture change taking place outside the workplace. Oftentimes we have to set the standard.
“Within the community, people are asked very private questions that are very uncomfortable at work. It needs to be clear that everyone in the community has the same privacy rights in healthcare. People accept name changes when someone gets married, but when someone changes their name as a non-binary or trans+ person, it is not always respected. We cannot always fix these issues but instead advocate for them,” Brietzke added.
Local 1902’s Sheenah Jewison joined MNclusive the summer of 2021. MNclusive members had done a presentation on pronouns at the Department of Employment and Economic Development for June Pride month. “My brother is part of the community and it’s important to me to be in those spaces as a support and ally. That’s what motivated me the most to join,” Jewison (pronouns she/her) said.
She also led efforts for Mankato Pride because “I’m from the area, it was a smaller event and I wanted representation there.”
“MNclusive is super important for the community, especially in greater Minnesota where offices are significantly smaller. If you are the only person in the community in an office with five people, what resources do you have regarding difficulty in state service?” Jewison asked.
“Part of my reason for coming to the State was to be part of a union. It has always been my hope for coming here to be part of the support and positive change that happens within community and the state of Minnesota workforce,” Brietzke said. “I have a lot of pride in MNclusive. I am always available whenever anyone needs help. I’ve been so incredibly happy to see ERGs grow.”
MNclusive welcomes new members. State employees can sign up to receive announcements and meeting invitations by emailing email@example.com.
To join the seven statewide ERGs click here: