Diversity Pride

"Rome wasn't built in a day" - IDAHOBIT 2019


This article takes inspiration from the famous saying "Rome wasn't built in a day" to reflect on the fact that all too often businesses devise initiatives and actions in support of their gay, lesbian, bi and trans employees only to mark specific dates like IDAHOBIT, without having a longer term strategy or vision of what they want to achieve.

In our opinion, the priority for any business should be to make days like IDAHOBIT irrelevant to them as their workplace culture is genuinely inclusive and homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are simply non-issues.

Unfortunately we are still a long way away from this scenario.

It may seem surprising however, according to Stonewall Work Report, today 62% of millennials who were "out" at university still choose to hide their sexual orientation when they enter the workplace for fear of being discriminated and of compromising their career prospects.

How is this possible in this day and age one might ask, especially in countries like the England where LGBT+ people have achieved full equality under the law, can benefit from visible role models on TV, and are more connected then ever, with new LGBT+ networks being launched on a regular basis.

Well the answer is to be found in the very peculiar nature of workplaces, a microcosm where people often feel they need to meet certain expectations, conform to a way of being that will allow them to "fit in". Men wear suits, women high heels; men need to be confident, aggressive, career focused; women should be supportive and caring. Everyone should fit within this binary because the workplace likes certainty and simplicity. Trans, gender fluid, queer individuals pose a threat to this status quo and therefore are often made to feel they should hide their identity and do their outmost best to "be normal".

Normality is not a particularly helpful concept as it's definition and interpretation is very subjective, personal and highly influenced by a variety of socio-cultural norms people subscribe to.

What is more helpful in this context is the notion of what is "usual" in a given setting. What is considered part of the day to day life and experience in that environment. In a workplace one might simply define it as "business as usual".

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Like the great equality and inclusion activist Lady Phyll says, "We must usualise the conversation about LGBT+ experiences in the workplace" (and in society more broadly).


So the fundamental question businesses should ask on IDAHOBIT and on any other day is: "is LGBT+ Inclusion business as usual in our workplace?" In other words "Are LGBT+ employees recognised, valued, supported and respected in exactly the same way as anyone else?"

Many business leaders will probably quickly jump to a "yes of course" answer, and often they do mean it, but they are unaware of the day to day realities their LGBT+ employees face: the banter, the slightly homo/bi/trans-phobic references and jokes, the microagressions, the (un) conscious bias that too often results in LGBT+ employees being treated less favourably and their heterosexual colleagues.

This is the reality for many LGBT+ people, as well as for all other minorities or marginalised groups; it is a usual occurrence.

What can be done about it?

The single most powerful thing anyone can do to make a real difference is to usualise the experience of LGBT+ colleagues by taking the stigma and the sensationalism out of it.

A gay colleague is not some sex addict, a trans colleague is not an oddity to stare at, a bi colleague is not an indecisive greedy individual. We are all "normal" and often have relatively boring, uneventful lives, like many others.

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Asking a colleague about their weekend should be as easy a conversation for a LGBT+ person as for a straight colleague. The former should not feel they need to make a huge effort to avoid gendering their partners for fear of being judged if they happen to be in a same sex relation

Anyone should feel able to choose the prefix, name and pronoun they'd like people to use, and it should not be a big deal, it should feel "normal" to everyone, business as usual.

But how do we get there?

In the same way that successful businesses, and leaders, get anything done: showing leadership, determination and purpose. 

We must make inclusion and respect part of the company's DNA, by creating an environment where homo/bi/trans-phobic behaviours are seen as toxic for the business, as detrimental to the achievement of the company's goals and aspirations.

If we get there, everyone in the workplace will feel able to be their authentic self and will perform much better as a result. Sickness absence and staff turnover will also reduce, and productivity will increase.

The good news is that this is possible and many companies are showing great leadership in this area. However, it must be stressed that, like Rome wasn't built in a day, LGBT+ inclusion as business as usual will not be achieved with one off initiatives. A vision and a long-term plan is necessary to to make homo/bi/trans-phobia "unusual" in workplaces, a thing of thing of the past.

Leaders have a vital role to play to set the right tone and to devise effective strategies to affect positive and lasting change.

And in the spirit of collaboration, here some free advice to end with:

As you embark on this journey, never assume you know what people think or feel: always ask them (e.g. through well structured employees surveys).

And, when you've identified the issues you need to tackle, don't try to reinvent the wheel: look for best practices around you, reach out to other leaders or organisations that have gone through a similar process and learn from them.

OUR SERVICES

Click HERE to book a call with us to discuss your learning and development requirements.

Delivery Method: Online and/or In-Person

Diversity Pride's highly innovative Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Consultancy is tailored specifically to your company needs and focuses on your most valuable asset - your workforce. Our LAB Journey Programme helps to drive your business goals in a tangible, measurable and sustainable way, through guided insights and actions. Diversity Pride have worked with HR, Legal, Operations, Marketing, PR and Learning and Development teams. To learn how we can work with yours, email us on getinvolved@diversitypride.org or schedule a call HERE

Delivery Method: Online and/or In-Person

We offer a range of personal development and inclusive leadership courses to support the workforce of all levels from senior management to entry-level employees. We design activities for managers and senior leaders to respond to the unique setting you work in and the challenges you face. Our programme includes:

- Coaching and Mentoring Skill
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Management 
- Executive Coaching 
- Hiring, promoting and developing others in an inclusive way
- Inclusive and Compassionate Leadership training
- Inclusive Language and Branding

If you are interested in a group or '1 to 1' training email us on getinvolved@diversitypride.org or schedule a call HERE

Delivery method: Online and/or In-Person

Diversity Pride offers a range of over 40 specialist equality and inclusion sessions and workshops for staff and volunteers at all levels. Our aim is to help you improve workforce engagement; enhance awareness and understanding of the value of an inclusive workforce; ensure management meets your legal obligation and imporve outcome as an organisation. 

If you wish to learn about the taining we provide, email us on getinvolved@diversitypride.org or schedule a call HERE

Delivery Method: Online and/or In-Person

In 2020 the need for management and team members to be Equality, Diversity and Inclusion confident and efficient has never been greater. Organisations, leaders and most importantly customers are all looking to hold us accountable for our behaviours and our workplace culture. Our Open Programmes are held regularly throughout the year across UK, Europe, North America, and Asia and are open to all individuals and organisations. Our aim is to deliver tangible benefits by increasing workforce engagement and productivity; gain senior buy-in and ensuring you recruit and retain the best talent.

These programmes can be customised to meet your organisation needs and delivered in-house for your designated staff groups. To find out more get in touch by emailing us on getinvolved@diversitypride.org or schedule a call HERE

Delivery Method: Online and/or In-Person

A seminar, panel discussion, conference, expo or product launch - we help organisations get it right! We can support you with as little or as much as you require. Diversity Pride can help you to:

- Source diverse speakers from a range of industries and levels
- Curate panel discussions and conferences 
- Build an Inclusive Marketing and PR campaign
- Find inclusive suppliers to deliver your event
- Chair and/or Facilitate panel discussions
- Find accessible venues and plan logistics
- Secure Sign Language Interpreters 
- Connect you with Partners who may wish to attend/support your event

To find out more get in touch HERE or by emailing us on getinvolved@diversitypride.org

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