Madison Finally Finds Belonging in the Workplace at Goodwill

Complete! That’s the first word that comes to mind when Madison Hiatt, a Pathways Career Navigator with Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, thinks of her experience as an employee with the nonprofit.

“There are so many people that don’t want me to exist, but to be here where existing is promoted, and belonging is provided, that’s awesome,” Hiatt said with emotion.

Madison, who identifies as a woman of transgender experience, has not always felt accepted, especially in the workplace.

“I try not to beat myself up that it took 43 years of my life to actually find safety somewhere,” Madison emphasized. “With my last job, I didn’t have that. The people that worked for me and worked with me were always having to justify my existence to my bosses, directors and people in the community that I worked with in a professional capacity. So, it’s amazing how things change.”

Although the U.S. Supreme Court passed legislation in 2020 to make it clear that trans people are legally protected from workplace discrimination, unfortunately, instances of discrimination and othering are still prevalent in the workplace and there is still ambiguity around how these protections apply to gender identity. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four transgender people have lost a job due to bias and discrimination. Three in four transgender people have experienced some form of workplace discrimination or harassment.

“Coming to a new workplace, I was scared to death to tell anyone,” Madison shared.

While Madison knows all too well what workplace discrimination feels like, she found support at Goodwill. Her career navigation team encouraged her to speak with the organization’s human resource team, who championed Madison; helping her transition to her preferred name and pronouns before her legal paperwork was approved, and encouraging her to be transparent and fulfill her desire to share her story of transition with her entire division.

“This is the very first time in my 23-year career that I’ve received a response like that. Everyone was just open arms and caring about it,” Madison said. “They’ve been celebrating along the way with me. Even people that I thought wouldn’t support me because of their religious beliefs, they still have supported me.”

The non-profit is supporting Madison with her surgery, which she will undergo at the end of summer, by allowing her to use two weeks of sick time while she has her procedures done. In addition, two colleagues have already agreed to take on her workload while she is out of office.

Madison feels the positive response is because of the inclusive culture Goodwill has created. “For the first time in my career, when I came on board with Goodwill, I truly had diversity on my team. There are people from different races, religions, sexual orientations. And everybody was respectful of that,” Madison emphasized.

This month, Madison shared her experience as a transgender woman in the workplace at Goodwill’s Coffee & Conversation: Equity in the Workplace panel on June 9, 2022, for Pride Month.

“If you’re not willing to acknowledge something and you’re not willing to talk about it, then nothing about it is ever going to change,” Madison said when asked why she wanted to be a part of the panel.

Although Madison is grateful to work at a company like Goodwill, that champions diversity in the workplace, has a DEIB Advisory Group and platforms like Coffee & Conversation where important topics are discussed, she knows there’s still more to be done. She hopes more employers adopt practices to create an inclusive workplace for the trans community and make all team members feel welcomed.

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.