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Bad Bettie Project, Catbird’s LGBTQ+ Career Fair centers inclusion in job hunting

//The Jobs4All – LGBTQ+ Career Fair presented by Bad Bettie Project and Catbird Hotel. Graphic provided by Bad Bettie Project. 

The Bad Bettie Project’s upcoming Jobs4All LGBTQ+ Career Fair evolved from one of the nonprofit’s main pillars: helping people who are financially struggling. 

Bad Bettie—which fosters a community of online and real-life friendships for more than 3,000 millennial women, nonbinary folks, and people otherwise marginalized in our communities across the country—has its Emergency Bettie Fund, where members can withdraw up to $300 per year to help cover bills and cost of living. 

According to Board Chair Meghan Palmer, the idea for the career fair predates COVID-19, as the team wondered how they might be able to push the emergency fund concept further.

“We wanted to make it a little bit bigger and different,” Palmer said. “And that’s how we came up with the idea of doing the LGBTQ-friendly, and super accepting and welcoming, career fair. We know it’s hard, oftentimes, for people who are part of that community or just part of marginalized communities, in general, to feel like they’re welcomed places or feel like they’re accepted.”

Despite plentiful rainbow corporate logos every June, the professional world still has a bit of catching up to do when it comes to inclusion and creating safe workplaces for everyone. According to a 2021 report from the Williams Institute, 46% of LGBTQ+ workers have experienced unfair treatment at work at some point in their lives, with 9% reporting discrimination in the past year.

Denver is also a uniquely fitting city for the event since the city’s future job growth over the next 10 years is predicted to be 45%, higher than the U.S. average of 33.5%.

The free event takes place April 22 through April 23 at Catbird Hotel, featuring a curated host of businesses prioritizing cultures of diversity and inclusion, ranging from real estate, technical positions, personal fitness and more. The career fair will feature networking happy hours, one-on-one resume and portfolio reviews, $25 headshots by Breezy Ritter Photography and the opportunity to interview for positions on the spot.

In addition, a major highlight of the two-day event is Saturday afternoon’s Diversity and Inclusion in the Work Search panel. 

The panel will feature four community members with specific experience navigating inclusion in the workplace:

Levi Teachey is a proud, out and open trans man, the current president of the Denver PFLAG Chapter and a co-lead of the Trans* and Gender Expansive Federal Group. Teachey served in the Navy under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and has firsthand experience dealing with other forms of job discrimination.

Otisa Eads is an HR and systems strategist consultant, helping established business owners to create systems to help their businesses growth. She specializes in creating strategies, onboarding systems and leadership development.

Danie Maravelas is an IT professional active in ensuring the organizations she works with are committed to improving hiring practices to promote inclusion for all. She also does pro-bono recruiting and career coaching for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC folks.

Melody Gambino has led five companies through acquisition and founded and ran New York’s Bolden chapter and the subsequent merger with SheRunsIt. She’s since advised universities and companies while ultimately looking to provide support to sexual trauma survivors, children of cults and people with mental illnesses.

Teague McDaniel, founder of Denver-based arts organization Creative Integration Initiative, or CII, will moderate the panel. McDaniel offers commercial art consulting, creative entrepreneurship coaching and project-based initiative through their work at CII.

Palmer said each element of the event is aimed at tackling diversity in the workforce and giving attendees tools to navigate those barriers, to “make sure that you’re finding companies that follow the kind of cultural aspects of a job that you want”.

The Bad Bettie team is collaborating with Catbird, a new RiNo extended-stay hotel, for the two-day event. The Bad Bettie team points to Catbird’s same mission of diversity and inclusion as one reason the partnership clicked.

“Just in general, in their hiring, they are looking at all the same things that we’re looking at,” Palmer said. “They’re not trained to be narrow-minded in their hiring processes. A lot of their team is actually part of the LGBT community.”

After their initial introduction, Catbird and Bad Bettie started brainstorming before turning focus to the career fair, where the hotel will donate its rooftop space. Catbird is also offering discounted room rates and packages for folks who want to stay in the hotel and attend both event days.

The hotel first found its footing in the RiNo neighborhood last year, and General Manager Courtney Griffith noted one goal from the beginning: to be a staple in the community where everyone is welcome. Catbird is not meant to be just a hotel but also a community hub.

While the hotel is set up to support guests for 90-plus days, Catbird is also open to the public.

“I think sometimes people think about hotels, and it’s like, ‘Oh, and I have to stay there to go there.’ It’s about community focus,” Griffith said. 

The hotel has an open lobby, a grab-and-go market, meeting spaces, a rooftop with a 360-degree view of the city and its restaurant, The Red Barber. Catbird is looking ahead to other potential events and getting the community involved, including a weekly, Sunday drag brunch starting in April and acting as a featured stopping point for Denver PrideFest this summer.

“I think with COVID, a lot of things settled down, and as things kind of ramp back up, we really want to expand the RiNo neighborhood, where it’s not just all in the Downtown Denver market—That people the neighborhood are like, ‘Oh, it’s right here in my backyard,’” Griffith said.

Bad Bettie already has a number of events locked in for the rest of the year, including its second-annual weekend-long women’s camping cabin retreat hosted at a YMCA in Deckers, Colorado in October. Though, looking ahead to the April career fair, Palmer said she hopes that attendees leave with a better idea of where they want to go professionally.

“There’s been a lot of people coming to terms with their career direction in general,” Palmer said. “With COVID, a lot of people are realizing the careers they’re in are not where they want to be long term, so we’re hoping this will help open up their eyes of, you know, there are different careers in different sectors. … Hopefully, this will give people a wider perspective on the different career options out there.”

To learn more about the event and sign up, visit the event page.

 

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