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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies releases white paper on role of mentorship for LGBTQ+ employees

By Sharla Hooper

Dr. Jessica Flores and Savita Devine examine existing protections for LGBTQ+ employees in the workplace and the potential of employee resource groups and mentorship to impact engagement

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies has released a new white paper, “LGBTQ+ Employees and the Importance of Advocacy and Mentorship in the Workplace.” Authored by Jessica Flores, Ed.D., fellow, Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR) and Clery Compliance Officer for University of Phoenix, and Savita Devine, fellow, CWDIR, the white paper highlights existing protections against discrimination, employers’ diversity statements and affirming policies, and the importance of advocacy in the workplace for LGBTQ+ employees as support for organizations striving to create more inclusive workplaces.

“There is a need to understand career optimism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other marginalized genders or sexualities in the workforce,” states Flores. “Disclosure of their identity may not come without risk, and workplace climate directly impacts the comfort and optimism of LGBTQ+ employees. Organizations striving to create more inclusive workspaces have options to better support their LGBTQ+ workforce.”

The white paper posits that, as communities of learning and practice, employee resource groups (ERGs) establish a space for advocacy by fostering collaboration and creating opportunities for mentorship while helping employees share experiences, navigate organizational dimensions, and reinforce allyship. “The platform ERGs provide may help LGBTQ+ employees strengthen organizational relationships, improve visibility of members, and ultimately amplify their voices,” Devine said.

Flores has over 21 years of experience as a higher education compliance professional. She serves as a leader in the University of Phoenix Allies of Pride ERG as well as a champion in the President’s Advisory Council on DEIB. Her research focuses on underrepresented populations’ experiences and perceptions to recommend and support policy-level change and improvement. Flores has an MBA and earned her doctorate in education from University of Phoenix.

Devine is a consultant and social entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in Public Administration and higher education. She has extensive experience in several key industry segments and served with the Arts Commission for the City of Peoria. She currently manages and oversees projects for a network of global industry experts and leaders in specialized areas of expertise within the social justice and arts industry and provides research services as well as primary qualitative research. Devine is a doctoral candidate at University of Phoenix where she earned her Master of Public Administration and Bachelor of Management. She is a former fellow and member of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR). 

The full whitepaper is available at the University of Phoenix Career Institute® webpage or as a direct link here.

About  University of Phoenix 

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit

About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today’s challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College’s research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About the Career Optimism Index®

The Career Optimism Index® study is one of the most comprehensive studies of Americans' personal career perceptions to date. The University of Phoenix Career Institute® conducts this research annually to provide insights on current workforce trends and to help identify solutions to support and advance American careers and create equity in the workplace. For the third annual study, fielded between December 9, 2022 – January 13, 2023, more than 5,000 U.S. adults were surveyed on how they feel about their careers at this moment in time, including their concerns, their challenges, and the degree to which they are optimistic about core aspects of their careers. The study was conducted among a diverse, nationally representative, sample of U.S. adults among a robust sample to allow for gender, generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences and includes additional analysis of the workforce in the top twenty DMA markets across the country to uncover geographic nuances. The study also explores insights from 500 U.S. employers who are influential or play a critical role in hiring and workplace decisions within a range of departments, company sizes and industries to provide comparison between the workforce and those who hire, train, and retain them.