Category : AWEI

Putting the ‘T’ into LGBTI workplace inclusion

In a post-marriage equality world, there is a high risk that active support for LGBTI workplace inclusion initiatives will decline, writes Dentons’ Ben Allen and Emily Hall.

This much was made obvious in the Australian Workplace Equality Index’s 2018 Employee Survey Analysis, which found that 27 per cent of non-LGBTI respondents thought inclusion was no longer an issue after marriage equality. In contrast, only 9 per cent of LGBTI respondents felt the same. This trend seems to be matched by the survey’s other finding that in 2018, 82 per cent of non-LGBTI respondents identified that workplace inclusion was important, a drop from 92 per cent in 2017.

This thinking reveals an all too common trend in LGBTI workplace inclusion, being a focus predominantly – or exclusively – on the first three letters of the acronym and forgetting the rest

AWEI’s 2018 survey revealed some alarming figures about transgender and gender diverse inclusion in the workplace. Fewer than 66 per cent gender diverse respondents stated they felt fully supported at work, which was considerably lower than the response from lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents. Further, 14 per cent of gender diverse respondents stated they did not feel supported at work.

It’s unsurprising that transgender and gender diverse employees feel less supported at work than their lesbian, gay and bisexual peers, given that the survey results showed that gender diverse respondents were more than twice as likely to witness negative attitudes or commentary in the workplace. This is in addition to gender diverse employees experiencing a higher rate of bullying or harassment in the workplace than their lesbian, gay or bisexual peers.

Plus, more than half of gender diverse respondents did not believe that LGBTI workplace inclusion initiatives benefited them.

Of course, what happens in the workplace is intrinsically related to what happens at home. Making sure workplaces are safe and supportive environments is crucial given transgender individuals are three times more likely to experience ill mental health, and nearly 11 times more likely to attempt suicide, than the general population.

In light of these statistics, it is clear that while we may have made some progress on supporting same-sex attracted employees in the workplace, there is still a long way for us to go on the rainbow.

To be part of the positive change required, businesses need to make a concentrated effort to expand the scope of their LGBTI inclusion initiatives.

So what can businesses do to be more inclusive of their transgender and gender diverse employees?

  • Have policies specifically for transgender employees. This will provide security around the process of transitioning at work, and reinforce the message that complaints about bullying and harassment will be taken seriously.
  • Make sure that your support for transgender and gender diverse employees is publicly known. Having a clearly available public statement regarding transgender and gender diverse individuals will help ease the moderate to very high anxiety that over a quarter of transgender and gender diverse respondents reported experiencing during recruitment processes in the AWEI 2018 survey.
  • Provide adequate support services for transgender employees. This could include freely available counselling, and dedicated training or mentorship programs. Not only is this positive for inclusion, but it will also boost staff retention.
  • Provide targeted training for all employees. Raising awareness and understanding among non-LGBTI employees is crucial to reducing the rates of bullying, harassment and negative commentary currently occurring in the workplace. Ask for help! There are a number of community organisations that can provide specialist assistance when it comes to transgender and gender diverse workplace inclusion, including Pride in Diversity.

The time is now for us to make it to the other side of the rainbow.

 

Ben Allen is a partner at Dentons, and Emily Hall is a graduate lawyer.

 

[Click here for source/article]

More than one in ten LGB workers in Regional Australia bullied in the workplace: Study

The survey also found that 13 per cent of gender diverse employees experienced ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of anxiety when applying for jobs.

Almost ten per cent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers in regional Australia have reported experiencing casual homophobia in the workplace, and almost 12 per cent have been bullied, according to a new study.

The 2018 Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) Employee Survey was conducted by Pride in Diversity, ACON’s not-for-profit support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion.

This year, more than 23,000 surveys were completed by employees working at 89 different organisations. Of the respondents, 3,709 identified as LGBTI.

“LGBTI employees want diverse workplaces where they feel included and supported – it isn’t only a moral imperative, it’s also just good business,” Chief Executive of ACON, Nicolas Parkhill, said.

“Fear of abuse or discrimination forces many LGBTI people to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity when they access health and well being services, in many cases leading to an increase in anxiety or depression.

“The work Pride in Diversity does in helping businesses as well as employees create more diverse and productive workplaces, is making real and substantial cultural change within Australian workplaces.”

The survey found that one in ten non-LGBTI employees believed LGBTI inclusion at work was no longer necessary following marriage equality, with only 73 per cent agreeing that it was.

Comparatively, a major 91 per cent of LGBTI respondents indicated that there was still much to be done in supporting inclusion and diversity at work.

More than 13 per cent of gender diverse employees said they experienced ‘very high’ or ‘high’ levels of anxiety during the recruitment process.

And while 60 per cent of gay men felt that inclusion initiatives had a positive impact on how they felt about their sexual identity, only 52 per cent of lesbians felt the same way.

“Even with some recent successes in achieving LGBTI rights, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do,” Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, Dawn Hough, said.

“It is important that in all aspects of Australian working life we have businesses comprising of leaders, advocates, and allies who know the importance of LGBTI inclusion.”

The full results of the 2018 AWEI Employee Survey can be found here.

Related story: ‘Only 32 per cent of LGBTI people are out to everyone at work: study’

Star Observer, 24 August 2018

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRIDE AT WORK

LAST month at Pride in Diversity, we celebrated 100 members and in the short time since, our membership continues to grow.

While we recognise that there is still much more to do, we celebrate the fact that employers are now seeing LGBTI inclusion as an integral part of their diversity and inclusion strategies. How different things were when Pride in Diversity started not quite six years ago.

This is an exciting time for job seekers who put high on their employer wish list an inclusive culture, one that recognises the incredible contribution that diversity brings to the business, to the lives of individuals and to the richness of its workplace.
I have been in the workforce for 35 years, I have been with my same-sex partner for 32 of those years. However, I have only been “out” for eight.

I spent far too many years of my working life editing conversations, changing personal pronouns, living in fear of being “found out”, avoiding social or networking situations and literally being on guard 24/7. I have listened to family, friends and colleagues talk about gay people with distaste, have fun at their expense and make disparaging remarks — all while smiling, trying to keep an emotionless face and (shamefully) sometimes joining in on some of those conversations in an effort to put people off track.

When you spend that much time hiding who you are for fear of what people will think, your self esteem and sense of self worth plummets. You are overly aware of what you cannot say, what you cannot do, what you must pretend to be, just to do your job. That’s not good for you and it’s certainly not good for an employer.

Many would argue that in this day and age programs like Pride in Diversity are no longer necessary. That people no longer need to be in the closet at work. It is very difficult to understand the complexity of coming out if you have never experienced societal, family and workplace stigma based on “what you are” and/or “who you are”. Some LGBTI people have been incredibly fortunate in that they too, have little experience of this. But for those who do, being out at work is a difficult decision to make and one that requires an assessment of just how safe it is to be who you really are, not in one context, but in multiple. Not with just one team, but with all teams. Not with just one person, but with all people.

And let’s face it, unless you personally know people who work for an organisation that they would highly recommend as being inclusive, you’re taking a bit of a gamble when it comes to choosing your next employer. This is why we publish the Australian National LGBTI Recruitment Guide (ANRG) and why we publish our members on our website.

This ANRG showcases employers that Pride in Diversity are currently working with in regard to their LGBTI inclusion initiatives and it highlights some of their work in this area. While the majority of our members would openly admit there is still more work to be done, at least you know that organisations profiled here are endeavouring to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all of their employees and that there are targeted initiatives in place to ensure LGBTI employees can be themselves at work.

The overwhelming majority of these employers have established LGBTI employee and ally networks providing you with an immediate point of contact should you so choose. The majority of these networks are highly visible and active within the organisation speaking directly to organisational values and the strength that diversity brings.

When you are being interviewed for your next role, ask if the employer is a member, or if they have an LGBTI employee network. If you want to be a little more discreet, enquire as to the areas of diversity that they focus on or what employee networks they have in place.

Don’t waste your years pretending to be someone you’re not. There are some great organisations out there where you can be yourself. We are actively working with many of them.

Dawn Hough is the Director of Pride in Diversity.

If you would like a free copy of the ANRG download it directly here.

_______________

ABOUT PRIDE IN DIVERSITY:

Pride in Diversity is Australia’s national not-for-profit employer support program established by ACON in 2009 to assist employers with all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion.

Pride in Diversity is also the developer of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) resulting in the annual top 20 employers for LGBTI employees and workplace inclusion awards, and the producers of the Australian National LGBTI Recruitment Guide (ANRG).

What ‘pride’ means for corporate Australia

By David Brine, Co-chair – Commonwealth Bank’s LGBTIQ ‘Unity’ network

It goes without saying in this world of corporate management speak, that most of us come to work every day looking to be blue-sky thinkers and to leverage every opportunity before we sync up, take it offline and touch base while we circle back on our ideas to grab some low-hanging fruit or quick wins.

Any of that sound familiar? When it’s written all together it can be pretty jarring, right?

What’s encouraging though is that that sort of Orwellian sleight-of-hand is becoming less and less common when organisations talk about diversity and inclusion. Our people are asking simple but right questions of our leaders – “What are we doing?”, “Why aren’t we doing more?”, “How are you going to make me feel welcome?”

Case in point – nearly 700 top-tier businesses have taken up the cause of marriage equality. They’re doing tangible things that can be seen by putting pen to paper, all in the name of offering their people evidence that they aren’t just paying lip service to the idea with hollow words. They’re bringing a touch of reality to the conversation about diversity and inclusion that has, in the past, been too full of hot air or false hope.

Just last month there was another encouraging sign from corporate Australia for supporting the LGBTIQ community with Wear it Purple Day. In my own backyard at Commonwealth Bank Place, we had more than 300 of our people travel from all over Sydney to come together to take what we think is an ASX company’s biggest selfie. Looking at that photo, there are Executive Committee members, heads of divisions, branch managers – allies, former sceptics and long-term diversity diehards all bundled into one frame. I can be seen wearing ridiculous round glasses near the front.
cba 2

For a lot of us involved in that selfie, it partially represents the culmination of more than two years of work to shift diversity and inclusion at the Commonwealth Bank from just a conversation to action. As any of you working in large organisations can appreciate, at times it can feel like you are turning the Titanic, but when you get there the results are very much worth the effort.

Across the Group all over the world, the 1800 members of our LGBTIQ Unity staff network have been involved in more than 120 diversity awareness training sessions and introduced our people to dozens of new employee policies and guides like Transitioning in the Workplace, How to be a great ally and Coming out. By building on that work within the Commonwealth Bank, it’s meant we’ve been able to support the broader community through things like our scholarship program with The Pinnacle Foundation, being a principal partner for the Bingham Cup, supporting anti-homophobia in sport and providing staffing resources and expertise to bring the event to life and of course, supporting events like the recent Wear it Purple raising funds for The Pinnacle Foundation.

To all of you working in Australia reading this, who like me, have heard colleagues offering empty words and placation in the name of diversity and inclusion, have a look at the photo at the end of this piece.

You will see that by focusing on actions that people can measure and see, we can build pride in our diversity for an inclusive Australian society.
Microsoft PowerPoint - WIP-collage [Read-Only]

Here’s Australia’s 20 most LGBTI-friendly employers

An awards luncheon today has announced Australia’s top 20 proudest local companies for their efforts with workplace support for LGBTI people.

The event was hosted by Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national employer support program for the inclusion of LGBTI people in the workplace.

PwC Australia was given the top honour – named Australia’s Employer of the Year 2015.

Read the full article here. 

PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS NAMED TOP EMPLOYER FOR LGBTI PEOPLE FOR THE SECOND TIME

PricewaterhouseCoopers has been named Australia’s top employer for LGBTI people for 2015.

The Australian arm of the global professional services firm topped a list of 20 organisations which were recognised today at a special luncheon in Sydney organised by Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national employer support program for the inclusion of LGBTI people in the workplace.

Read the full article here.

Australia and Hong Kong set to announce Top Employers: LGBTI Inclusion

I had the absolute pleasure of spending several days in Hong Kong with Community Business last week, Hong Kong’s leading diversity advisors and advocates for LGBT workplace inclusion.

Community business, with the recent launch of their inaugural LGBT workplace inclusion index have been running a campaign called #time4changeHK . After spending two days looking at the comprehensive work being undertaken by organisations in Hong Kong and the calibre of network groups and leaders, we can only conclude that things are changing at a phenomenal pace. Global organisations are clearly committed to regional initiatives and local organisations are breaking ground in the work that they are currently doing.

Pride in Diversity was delighted to receive an invitation to assist with the judging of Hong Kong’s first award submissions. This trip, made possible through the sponsorship of Goldman Sachs Hong Kong, gave the two organisations time to discuss not only the progress of LGBTI inclusion more fully but next steps, collectively and regionally.

Community Business and Pride in Diversity have long enjoyed a sharing relationship. Community Business spoke at the Pride in Diversity annual conference (Pride in Practice) last December and have provided advice in regard to LGBT workplace inclusion across Asia. Pride in Diversity have provided insight into the workings of the Australian Index and advice on the development of the Hong Kong Index; in addition to sitting on the judging panel for these first awards. The two days in Hong Kong allowed the two organisations to further cement that relationship and discuss the coverage of LGBTI inclusion initiatives across Australia, Hong Kong and Asia more broadly.

Both the Hong Kong LGBT workplace inclusion index and the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) provide a rigorous assessment of an organisation’s initiatives and diversity strategy in addition to setting the foundation for an annual national benchmark. Each instrument sets and drives practice for their respective regions providing not only invaluable feedback to employers (regardless of where they are on the LGBTI inclusion journey) but in some cases sector and industry benchmarks. This external measure of progress and invaluable insight into national initiatives as a result, provides each organisation with the ability to progress LGBTI inclusion initiatives nationally and collectively within the region.

With both indices for 2015 recently closing, the rigorous task of marking and assessment is still underway. Both organisations have planned an Awards Luncheon and announcement of Top Employers for Friday May 15, in recognition of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (May 17). With the Australian Awards Luncheon kicking off a couple of hours before the Hong Kong Luncheon, participating organisations across the region will be able to hear of their results across both indices on the same day. A joint statement by Pride in Diversity and Community Business will be issued shortly after.

For more information on Pride in Diversity, the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) or the Australian Employer Awards Luncheon, please contact Steph Mellor on (02) 9206.2139 or visit http://www.prideindiversity.com.au

For more information on Community Business, the Hong Kong LGBT Inclusion Index or the Hong Kong Awards Luncheon, please refer to the website www.communitybusiness.org/hklgbtindex/ or contact Ivy Wong (Ph: HK 2152-1889 or email ivy.wong@communitybusiness.org).

Dawn Hough is the Director of Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI Workplace Inclusion. Pride in Diversity are also the developers of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), Australia’s definitive national benchmarking for LGBTI inclusion initiatives.

Impossible to Measure LGBTI Workplace Inclusion? No!

2015 marks the 5th year of the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), Australia’s definitive national benchmark on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Intersex (LGBTI) workplace inclusion. The AWEI also comprises the largest and only national employee survey of its kind designed to gauge the overall impact of inclusion initiatives on organisational culture as well as LGBTI identifying and non-identifying employees. The AWEI drives best practice in Australia and participation has gown annually from its introduction. Pride in Diversity, Australia’s first and only national body supporting Australian workplaces (and their Asia Pacific offices) with LGBTI inclusion work, is the publisher of the AWEI. Clients of Pride in Diversity include those across many sectors and industries such as banking & finance, professional services, oil, gas, & mining, not-for-profit, tertiary institutions and federal, state & local government. For a full list of Pride in Diversity members, click here.

The AWEI measures LGBTI inclusion activities across a number of diversity practice areas such as policy, awareness & visibility, training, and supplier diversity. It allows an organisation to benchmark themselves against other similar employers, and gain valuable internal data on their inclusion work. Year-on-year participation in the AWEI gives employers great insight into their ongoing performance in this space, creating a culture of continuous improvement and providing them with up to date data each year for inclusion in organisational reporting, strategy and many programs.

“This is the third year the Westpac Group has participated in the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI). We find it is a great tool to use to not only benchmark us against our peers, but also assist us in driving our LGBTI initiatives internally. We have made great progress over the past two years which we are very proud of, and the Index helps us push forward as there is still much more to do. It is benchmarks like the AWEI that keep organisations accountable and ensure that diversity and inclusion continues to progress”Brad Cooper, GLOBAL Executive Sponsor, The Westpac Group.

Participation in the optional AWEI Employee Survey is beneficial to organisations as it provides previously hard-to-obtain, objective data that comments directly on the ‘lived experience’ of LGBTI employees in an organisation. It essentially measures the impact of an organisation’s LGBTI inclusion work. As many HR, OD and Diversity professionals know, measuring the ROI of programs designed to make an impact on the culture of an organisation can be difficult, if not impossible to obtain. The survey is managed externally to all organisations and the data held confidentially by the Pride in Diversity team. No identifying data is collected, and demographic data only reported once combined with at least 10 other responses of demographically identical respondents, ensuring anonymity. Many organisations often utilise the feedback provided from the Employee Survey to inform the next year’s LGBTI Inclusion Strategy, or to address ‘hot spots’. Organisations that participate year-on-year in the AWEI process, and are active in their inclusion work the year following will likely see continued improvement in their AWEI performance. For those organisations who feature in the Top 20 Employers for LGBTI Employees (Gold and Silver Tier) there is a significantly more positive employee experience compared to organisations outside of the Top 20.

“Our aim is to create a workplace where everyone feels welcome and able to bring their whole self to work. Achieving a Top 20 ranking in the Pride in Diversity 2014 AWEI has provided external recognition for the work that we are so passionately committed to, as well as a platform to benchmark our practices against leading organisations. The support and guidance we have received from Pride in Diversity has been crucial to our success. The collaborative nature of our partnership has enabled us to work together to raise awareness of the importance of workplace inclusion and to develop initiatives that further support employees who identify as LGBTI and their allies. Ultimately this has enabled us to create a workplace culture that is inclusive of all employees” – Catherine Owen, OD Consultant – Diversity, Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

Participation in the AWEI is open to all employers in Australia, regardless of membership status with Pride in Diversity. Organisations across all industries and sectors take part and participation is at no cost to the organisation. Organisations at all stages of their LGBTI inclusion journey find it valuable to participate in the AWEI. For those organisations that are just starting to work on this space, it provides valuable knowledge of where your organisation has inclusive practice, and where there is an opportunity to make changes or improvement. Members of Pride in Diversity can request a comprehensive debrief workshop with a PID Relationship Manager, which provides additional guidance and analysis. While the AWEI Employer of the Year and associated awards are publically communicated, participation in the AWEI can be completely confidential. This allows organisations to treat the process as an internal benchmarking process only. Pride in Diversity are available to satisfy any confidentiality agreement in relation to an organisation taking part confidentially.

We are proud to be a PiD foundation member and an AWEI participant since its inauguration. The AWEI inspires us to improve as an organization and is a driver of LGBTI inclusion across Australia. We are also grateful for our PiD network and the sharing of best practices that has helped us to learn and grow. Having our efforts acknowledged with the 2014 AWEI Employer of the Year award was a tribute to the hard work of senior leadership, GLAM (Gays, Lesbians and Mates) Network and Human Capital Management team” – Michelle Nyberg, Executive Director and GLAM Chair, Goldman Sachs.

The LGBTI Employer of the Year, along with Gold, Silver, Bronze and Participating organisations will be honoured at the Annual AWEI Awards Luncheon in Sydney on 15 May, at The Westin. Additional awards include Diversity Champion, CEO of the Year and Regional Award. For more information, and to download the submission document, including a dedicated completion guide, please click here.

If you’d like to talk in more detail, or have any questions about Pride in Diversity, or the Australian Workplace Equality Index, please don’t hesitate to contact me via LinkedIn or on 02 9206 2138 or +61 429 494 547.

_________________________________________________________________

Ross Wetherbee is Workplace Education & Relationship Manager at Pride in Diversity. In his role he oversees his portfolio of member organisations in the public sector and the following industry groups: Local, State and Federal Government departments, Tertiary Education institutions, Healthcare, Mining Resources and Energy, Oil & Gas, FMCG, Sporting Organisations and Not-for-profit & Community Groups. He facilitates member roundtables, training and awareness sessions, and works with member organisations in an ongoing capacity to provide best-practice advice and assist in all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion. Prior to joining Pride in Diversity, Ross lead Macquarie Bank’s LGBTI Employee Network in addition to his role as a Global Talent Consultant.

LGBTIQ Inclusion in Australian Universities – Raising the Bar

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the launch of the Australian LGBTI University Guide at the Australian Human Rights Commission Headquarters in Sydney.

The guide is a joint effort from the Gay & Lesbian Rights Lobby, Sydney Star Observer, Out For Australia, Oii, and Transgender Victoria that seeks to rate an Australian University’s inclusivity for LGBTIQ students by examining publicly available information such as policies, support resources, events, groups/societies (such as the presence of an Ally network), membership to Pride in Diversity, and involvement with broader community issues that affect LGBTIQ people.

While Pride in Diversity is not affiliated with the Australian LGBTI Uni Guide, we acknowledge the intent by its publishers – to shine a light on the learning environments are most openly supportive, and therefore potentially more likely to cater for students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex or queer.

At the launch of the guide, which was officiated by Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, a question was posed by an attendee…

“what’s next – how can the universities featured in the guide progress from here, how can they measure how inclusive they are and instigate change from within?”

To me, the answer is to benchmark your institution fully, by participating in the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI).

The Australian Workplace Equality Index, published by Pride in Diversity now stands as the definitive national benchmark on LGBTI workplace inclusion and comprises the largest national employee survey designed to gauge the overall impact of inclusion initiatives on organisational culture as well as identifying and non-identifying employees. The Index drives best practice in Australia and sets a comparative benchmark for Australian employers across all sectors. For this reason alone, the Index has to be comprehensive and rigorous. The work compiled annually by employers submitting for the Index is a testament to the importance of LGBTI inclusion with their current D&I initiatives.

Employer participation in the Index and the optional employee survey has grown annually since its launch in 2010 and in 2014 moved from celebrating Top 10 Employers to Australia’s Top 20 Employers alongside small employers and individuals who are acknowledged for their contribution to LGBTI Workplace Inclusion.

Participation as a member of Pride in Diversity will also entitle your institution to a full and comprehensive debrief, complete with comparisons to the tertiary sector and key recommendations for progression. Membership with Pride in Diversity also entitles you to ongoing support, training and consultancy on all aspects of LGBTIQ inclusion. 

Two Australian Universities have featured consistently in the Top 10 over the lifespan of the AWEI – University of Western Australia, and Curtin University, sending a strong message that you do not need to be a large corporate organisation to stand up and be counted in this space.

Pride in Diversity now work with over 10 Universities in the LGBTIQ space, with five of these being Group of Eight (Go8) universities – I can clearly see the momentum building in this area of inclusion – and a major focus on aligning with, and ensuring that the student community is on the journey. Pride in Diversity are here to support Australian Universities, along with all other industries and sectors in business to create safe, welcoming and inclusive cultures where all employees can bring their whole self to work and contribute to their fullest extent possible.

For more information about Pride in Diversity or to discuss membership options, please contact me direct on (02) 9206 2138 or +61429494547 or via email:ross.wetherbee@prideindiversity.com.au


Ross Wetherbee is Relationship Manager at Pride in Diversity.

Ross Wetherbee has over 10 years’ experience in HR, Talent, Organisational Development and Learning facilitation.

Ross’ role as Workplace Education & Relationship Manager at Pride In Diversity oversees a portfolio of member organisations including the following sectors: Property & Construction, Local, State and Federal Government, Tertiary Education, Healthcare, Energy, Oil & Gas, Elite Sporting Codes and Not-for-profit & Community.

 

LGBTI Inclusion: Are Your Leaders Really Engaged?

A panel I spoke on recently, sparked some interesting debate, which raised the question:

“When it comes to inclusion and progressing the diversity agenda – are your leaders really engaged, or are they just paying lip service?”

I know what I believe to be true. LGBTI Inclusion is unique, with more and more leaders becoming powerful role models and allies across their organisations in this space, and yes, their support is authentic.

LGBTI inclusion has arguably made substantial progress over recent years, of course we know that there is still plenty of work to do, but with this groundswell of momentum and practice shifting (AWEI) [1], an increasing numbers of organisations across Australia are realising that to be truly inclusive: LGBTI inclusion initiatives count.

So, in what is now being called “the fastest moving area of diversity and inclusion” in some circles; What are the key drivers in effecting change and cultivating genuine support from leaders?

Here are a few:

1. Practice Sharing – the amount of sharing that goes on between and across organisations active in LGBTI workplace inclusion, is quite unlike any other. It is both inspirational to watch and exciting to be part of. Come along to any Pride in Diversity Member Round Table, and our Annual Pride in Practice Conference to experience this first hand.

2. Executive Endorsement – known as “Executive Sponsors” these influential individuals are in many cases the epitome of “genuine leadership and engagement” in this space from the top and on the ground. LGBTI networks with active Executive Sponsors have their work supported and endorsed, and their initiatives promoted by these Senior Leaders across SLT teams and throughout their workplaces.

But it’s not just Executive Sponsors who are fast becoming genuinely engaged, CEO’s are also coming out in active support of LGBTI inclusion in some organisations, by speaking out on the importance of corporate citizenship in this space.

Which brings me to another type of “Leader” who is actively engaged, and in many ways demonstrates genuine commitment to LGBTI workplace inclusion today…

3. Effective and Sustainable Employee Networks – all you have to do is take a look at any of the LGBTI network groups that we work with across Australia to find teams of dedicated and driven individuals (many “actively engaged leaders”) some who identify as LGBTI and many who don’t, all working towards best practice and creating cultural change.

4. And finally, the voice of the leaders: The 2014 AWEI Annual Employee Survey [1] show that over 90% of Senior Leaders in Australian Workplaces personally believe in LGBTI workplace inclusion and support LGBTI inclusion initiatives. But don’t just believe the statistics, go out and listen to their stories!

I would argue this is not something to be cynical about, as I hear first hand many multitudes of heartfelt, personal stories, which are also being shared by these engaged leaders with their peers and employees, providing inspiration for many. It is indeed through this story telling, that we are engaging more leaders along the way.

Many of the leaders we work with not only understand the business case, but genuinely support LGBTI inclusion, many for their own personal reasons, and others because through education they have been provided true insight into the lived experience of their LGBTI employees.

But this hasn’t always been the case, and it would be naive to think we don’t still have a long way to go, and of course it is not only about engaging leaders, although this is a very good place to start!

Want to be inspired to make a difference in your workplace? Come along to our Pride in Practice Conference on December 1st & 2nd (almost at capacity!) For more information and tickets click here.


 

Lin Surch is Workplace Education and Relationship Manager of Pride in Diversity, Australia’s not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion. For more information on Pride in Diversity, call us on +612 9206.2137.

[1] AWEI is published annually by Pride in Diversity, Australia’s national not-for-profit employee support program for all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion. The AWEI is the country’s definitive national benchmarking tool that benchmarks LGBTI inclusion in Australian workplaces in addition to providing the country’s largest annual LGBTI inclusion employee study, and acknowledgement of the country’s Top 20 Employers for LGBTI employees. For more information on Pride in Diversity visit www.prideindiversity.com.au. For more information on the AWEI or to download a full copy of the benchmarking or employee study, visit www.prideindiverity.com.au