AuthorPride in Diversity

New benchmarking tool to assess LGBTI inclusion amongst health and wellbeing providers launches

A new benchmarking tool launched by leading LGBTI inclusion initiative, Pride Inclusion Programs, now provides health and wellbeing organisations the opportunity to assess, measure and improve their practices to better include lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in their services.

The Health + Wellbeing Equality Index is Australia’s first instrument to annually benchmark LGBTI inclusive service provision amongst organisations in the health, human services and wellbeing sectors. The index is administered by Pride in Health + Wellbeing, a national program that provides support, training and guidance in LGBTI inclusive service delivery. Pride in Health + Wellbeing is part of Pride Inclusion Programs, a suite of social inclusion initiatives delivered by Australia’s leading LGBTI health organisation, ACON.

ACON CEO Nicolas Parkhill said the Health + Wellbeing Equality Index will be an important resource for health and wellbeing service providers across Australia.

“With significant health disparities between LGBTI and non-LGBTI people and issues many LGBTI people experience in accessing important and critical health services such as perceived or previously experienced stigma, discrimination, harassment or refusal of service, this index is an instrumental tool for service providers as they seek to be more inclusive of all Australians,” Mr Parkhill said.

“We are proud to announce the launch of this index, which builds on ACON’s decades-long experience in LGBTI health and wellbeing. This instrument, in addition to our Pride in Health + Wellbeing support program, will provide a much-needed resource for those seeking to ensure full inclusivity of LGBTI people within the services and programs that they offer and will assist providers in working towards the Rainbow Tick accreditation if that is their ultimate goal,” Mr Parkhill said.

Participation will give service providers clear guidelines on getting started or on progressing their work in LGBTI inclusive service provision, as well as an opportunity to survey both staff and service users regardless of how they identify going forward.

The Health + Wellbeing Equality Index builds on from Pride Inclusion Programs’ benchmarking instruments, the Pride in Sport Index and the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI).

Dawn Hough, Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, said just as the AWEI has been instrumental in shifting practices in LGBTI inclusion in workplaces across Australia, the Health + Wellbeing Equality Index will be critical in improving health and wellbeing service provision.

“The feedback provided as a result of participation will allow health and wellbeing providers to not only focus their inclusion work in areas of good practice, but also determine annually what they need to do to improve,” Ms Hough said.

“As index participation grows, the benchmarking data will provide a valuable reference in terms of current best practice as well as both qualitative and quantitative data to show improvements in their service provision.”

Participants to the index do not need to be a member of the Pride in Health + Wellbeing support program to take part. Submissions can be made online and close Friday 8 March 5pm.


There is growing evidence that more support is needed for bisexual people within Australian workplaces. 2018 saw the release of a number of workplace research studies which have highlighted the perceptions and impacts of being visible, or “out” for bisexual people.

The 2018 Out at Work report produced by RMIT, the Diversity Council of Australia and Star Observer, clearly demonstrated that most LGBTI people are still not entirely out within their workplace, and the importance of visible role models. The study also clearly demonstrated significant gaps in perceptions for bisexual workers, with only 25% of bisexual people feeling being out was important, compared to 57% of lesbian and 47% of gay workers. The primary reason given by bisexual people for not being out was that “Colleagues would feel uncomfortable around me”, which was cited by 41% of bisexual participants in the study.

Over the last few years, it has become accepted wisdom within HR departments that an inclusive workplace culture is necessary to allow people to achieve their best and be most productive. Unfortunately, that accepted wisdom is not yet translating into an inclusive reality for everyone.

The 2018 Australian Workplace Equality Index produced by Pride in Diversity, looked at the issue of whether an LGBTI inclusive culture is actually perceived as being important to LGBTI employees. The results of the study revealed striking differences in the perception of the workplace inclusion programs. When asked how important an LGBTI inclusive workplace culture is, the percentage of intersex people (62%) and bisexual males (65%) viewing it as important was far lower than the results for lesbians (88%) or bisexual females (81%).

A recent panel session at the 2018 Pride in Practice conference in Melbourne delved into issues facing bisexual people in their careers. Panellists included William Lewis from ANZ Bank, Ellie Watts from QBE Insurance, Alix Sampson from AGL, and Ashleigh Sternes from Pride in Diversity.

According to Ellie Watts, she didn’t have a big dramatic personal coming out story with her own family, but acknowledged it was a battle for her to initially figure out her bisexuality.  She described the relief she felt when she came out to her parents, and that her parents were quite accepting and relaxed, and a little confused about how emotionally difficult coming out was for her.

While coming out to her family was a relief, it didn’t mean that Watts felt any urgency or need to come out at work. It wasn’t until some years later when she joined QBE, and learnt about QBE’s Pride group on her first day at work, that she started to consider coming out at work. Watts reflected, “For me it was a process over time, testing the water. It was helped by the fact that I have a gay manager.”

One of the key issues raised by the panellists were the frequent intrusive and inappropriate questions they had faced from work colleagues, and they offered some examples, including:

  • What percentage Bi are you?
  • Have you ever slept with a girl/guy?
  • How many threesomes have you had?
  • When will you make up your mind?
  • Is this something you will grow out of?

Another concern expressed was the lack of bisexual people visible in wider society and pop culture. The observation was made that bisexual characters in film and TV are routinely “erased” as bisexual, and instead described as gay or lesbian, which makes it hard to find role models.

Watts also explained that she felt that being in a relationship placed additional pressures on her decision to come out at work. She outlined how being in a relationship creates more workplace questions, and the need to constantly explain her family situation. “You are always preparing yourself for the stereotypes and the comments that will follow afterwards. It is exhausting to keep educating people.”

People who are looking to be allies to bisexual colleagues should simply accept bisexual identities when they are disclosed, avoid making assumptions, and be mindful of language.


[Sebastian Rice – December 18, 2018 – Star Observer]

Deakin University becoming LGBTIQ+ leader offering paid gender transition leave

DEAKIN University will be the first Australian university to launch paid leave to support staff undergoing a gender transition.

The new policy will be announced to the university’s 4700 staff today.

Chief operating officer Kean Selway said Deakin considered staff diversity as a great strength and a valued asset to its community.

“Deakin is committed to diversity in the higher education sector and we recognise the rights of our LGBTIQ+ staff to live and work free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our university community and the broader population,” Mr Selway said.

“A gender transition usually includes social, medical and legal aspects and staff have told us that this can be a particularly difficult and challenging time.

“That’s why Deakin is now the first university in Australia to provide up to 10 days paid leave to support staff undergoing a gender transition.

“Under Deakin’s existing leave provisions, all staff experiencing exceptionally difficult personal circumstances can, with the support of management, apply for ‘special leave’ directly to the Vice-Chancellor.”

Mr Selway said that until now, that was the only option for people undergoing a gender transition, and that Deakin recognised the need for a specific leave entitlement.

“The paid leave is backed by a new gender transition policy which provides security and clarity around the process for Deakin staff who are undergoing a gender transition,” Mr Selway said.

“Fostering a genuinely inclusive environment affords all our staff and students a sense of belonging and an equal chance of success whether it be through study or work.”

The policy is considered a significant step forward in Deakin’s ambition to be a leading LGBTIQ+ inclusive educator and employer.

Deakin developed the policy with input from Transgender Victoria, Trans-Medical Research from the University of Melbourne and Pride in Diversity — a national not-for-profit employer support program.

Deakin launched its LGBTIQ+ 2017-2020 Plan last year.


[Source: Geelong Advertiser, 24 October 2018]

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]

The double-glazed ceiling: the struggle for queer women in the workplace

Three-quarters of same-sex attracted women said stereotypes like “butch”, “man-hater”, and “aggressive” negatively impacted them and were the biggest barriers to being out at work.

One third of same-sex attracted women are uncomfortable being out in the workplace, and many are fearful of being associated with harmful stereotypes, according to new research by PwC and Pride in Diversity.

The Where are all the Women? survey asked 1,270 same-sex attracted women in Australia about their experiences around workplace inclusion, one of the largest studies of its kind ever undertaken.

Of the respondents, two-thirds said they were comfortable being out to most or all of the people they work with, while 29 per cent believed being same-sex attracted would inhibit their career progression, and one in five women said they had left a job when they were younger because it wasn’t inclusive.

PwC manager and lead researcher, Kate Marks, says a sense of belonging and connection seems to be missing for same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“It’s not due to one, overarching thing,” she says.

“It’s a slow, cumulative effect from things like day-to-day comments, a lack of role models, and a double-glazed glass ceiling to break through.”

She adds that the focus for many workplaces has been gender equality for such a long time, that sexuality has been left by the wayside.

“When we asked which was important—gender or sexuality—most of the respondents said both are important,” she says.

“People have been talking about gender being the inhibitor for so long, that the concept of sexuality as an inhibitor is relatively new.”

The study found that damaging stereotypes play an important role in how same-sex attracted woman navigate the workplace, with three-quarters of respondents saying stereotypes like “butch”, “man-hater”, and “aggressive” negatively impacted them at work and were the biggest barriers to being out.

Roughly 81 per cent of respondents said active leadership support impacted how they felt about being out at work, and 80 per cent indicated that visible support for LGBTI inclusion was important when looking for a job.

When it came to role models, 84 per cent said they had people to look up to outside of the workplace, yet only half of respondents had role models within the workplace.

Marks says small symbols like rainbow lanyards or an ally closing down a potentially harmful conversation can make a world of difference.

“I think Pride networks play a critical role in this too,” she says.

“They are so good at connecting people, but at the moment they don’t seem to be doing the same thing for same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“It’s about looking at that next layer of division — when you’re hosting a panel of speakers, how are you going to make sure you have diversity of thought on that panel? When you’re creating partnerships with other organisations, who are the CEOs of those organisations?”

“The impact of these things really trickle through.”

She hopes that the research will go some way towards improving the experiences of same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“We want to make sure they stay, and feel as excited about developing their careers as anyone else,” she says.

“And we can do that by making sure workplaces have diversity of thought in small day-to-day decisions all the way through to the top.”

Matthew Wade – Star Observer

“In my twenties I was told I shouldn’t come out or my career would go nowhere”: Michael Ebeid

“Too many young people hide their sexual orientation at work, and I think that’s quite sad.”

After more than seven years at the helm of SBS, openly gay chief executive Michael Ebeid has called it quits.

During his time at the broadcasting service he has helped transform the culture by championing LGBTI inclusion and bringing in more diverse programming — including Deep Water, which focused on Sydney’s beat murders, as well as growing coverage of Mardi Gras and queer stories.

He admits that it “feels awful” to leave a job and company he truly believes in, but is excited about his new chapter with Telstra.

“We’ve supported Australians understanding each other better because of our diversity,” he says, “and that’s what I’m really proud of.”

When it comes to being a visible role model for LGBTI people entering the workforce, Ebeid says it’s been wonderful, and something he could never have imagined growing up.

As a 20-something gay man entering the workforce, he had people tell him he shouldn’t come out or else his career would go nowhere.

“I think it’s fair to say attitudes have really changed,” he says.

“All you’ve got to do is prove to your employer that you’re capable of the job, and that has to override any personal factors.

“I certainly didn’t have that when I was 20 — it’s important to show that your sexuality is one part of you, it doesn’t have to define who you are.”

Outside of SBS, Ebeid regularly talks on panels and attends events surrounding workplace diversity and inclusion.

More recently, he was announced one of the inaugural patrons of Pride in Health+Wellbeing, a landmark LGBTI inclusion initiative by ACON that provides support to organisations in the health sector in delivering LGBTI inclusive services.

He says young LGBTI people often approach him at events and tell him what it means to them to see Ebeid as an openly gay and visible executive.

“I do mentor a couple of young people in their careers and have done so for 20 years or so, which I find incredibly rewarding,” he says.

“I learn a lot from understanding what young people are going through nowadays, because in some ways it’s very different to the issues I faced.

“Too many young people hide their sexual orientation at work, and I think that’s quite sad.”

Ebeid hopes that through his time at SBS, as well as any of his future chapters, he can help to inspire and educate employers and employees alike across Australia when it comes to the importance of workplace inclusion.

He says when he was able to bring his full self to work and not worry what others thought, his career blossomed.

“For anybody who’s in the closet, know it takes a lot of energy to constantly lie or cover up your real self, and once you can redirect that energy into more creative or innovative things, life gets much better,” he says.

“Young people starting off in their careers should have confidence in themselves and really believe in themselves, because self-confidence goes a long way.

“I would also advise people to think about the organisations they’re wanting to join and to ask what kinds of LGBTI policies they have.

“It’s important to work for an organisation you feel aligned with as opposed to going somewhere were your personal values aren’t validated… life is short and we should enjoy where we go every day.”

Michael Ebeid will be appearing at the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council’s (AGMC) upcoming ‘Living and Loving in Diversity’ Conference later this month in Melbourne, which will focus on the issues faced by queer, trans, and intersex people of colour.

[Star Observer, 3 Sept 2018]

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

1 in 3 gay women say their sexuality affects career progression

A survey of almost 1300 gay women has shed new light on the barriers still faced in Australian workplaces.

A report titled ‘Where are all the women?’, commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers and ACON Pride in Diversity, surveyed 1270 gay women about their experiences in the workplace.

While two-thirds of women (65 per cent) felt comfortable expressing their sexuality to work colleagues, nearly one in three (29 per cent) believed being gay had impacted their career progression.

And almost one in five (17 per cent) had left a workplace before turning 26 due to what they called a “lack of inclusion”.

“We were definitely surprised by the subtle impacts that people talked about in the report,” said author Kate Marks from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

SBS News

“So people I think are common with the concept that gender can be something that inhibits your career. But the idea that your sexuality might is slightly newer to people.”

Fears of being openly gay at work

The report, which took a year to compile, also found only 53 per cent of younger lesbians are likely to come out within the first year of a new job, compared to 60 per cent of women in a senior role.

Almost three-quarters of women (72 per cent) in a company of 100 people or less were openly gay.

The survey asked the women to detail some of the words used by co-workers to describe them.

SBS News

 Kate Marks said she was shocked at the derogatory terms used.

“The words that come through are ‘masculine’, ‘man-hater’, and ‘butch’,” she explained.

“You have to go pretty far down that list to find a word that is seemingly positive.”

Consequences of malicious comments

Dawn Hough, Director of health organisation ACON’s Pride in Diversity program, told SBS News that careless comments can poison the workplace for gay women.

“Productivity goes down, engagement goes down, and ultimately the workplace becomes a place that we don’t enjoy coming to,” she said.

“If we had more role models if we were not so inclined to name people and stereotype people things would be easier. But it’s easier said than done.”

SBS News

A growing number of Australian workplaces now have diversity initiatives, designed to ensure people feel included at all levels of the business.

But Dawn Hough says it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference… such as having an honest chat over a cup of coffee.

“It’s about creating an even playing field, not raising one group above another,” she said.

“And the manager plays a significant role there.”

Kate Marks agrees.

“It’s really about being able to bring your authentic self to work,” she said.

“And so when I think about the impact I want this report to have, I want it to go broader than LGBTI inclusion and actually start to question how, within workplaces, how we can celebrate any types of differences.”

Diversity and productivity

Jemma Still has never experienced discrimination in her corporate career.

But during the marriage equality vote last year, she was surprised by some insensitive comments around the office.

“Before that, I don’t know it didn’t make any difference that I was gay, but at that time people were – I guess they were talking about the vote a lot and kind of surrounded by it – and it just made me feel, for the first time probably in my life that I was different to my colleagues,” she said.

Jemma was able to discuss her concerns with her manager and hopes other companies can do the same to help embrace the broad diversity of their workforce.

“If you’re comfortable in who you are, and you’re comfortable in what you’re doing, then you’re happier when you’re at work and all of that leads to productivity which can’t be a bad thing.”


[Click here for source/article]

Engineering has an LGBTQ+ representation problem – here’s how to fix it

Much attention has been paid to the gender disparity in engineering, but the subject of LGBTQ+ representation is less dominant in public discourse.

recent study of more than 4000 STEM students across 78 different US-based institutions found LGBTQ+ students were almost 10 per cent more likely to not complete their degrees than heterosexual students, even when  accounting for other external factors.

The report, conducted by researchers from the University of Montana, echoes a similar study completed in 2017 by researchers from University of Minnesota and California State University, where survey results from 1400 LGBTQ+ professionals working in STEM-based roles were less likely to have come out to their work colleagues compared to other industries.

The disparity was particularly striking in engineering, where the majority of participants were open about their LGBTQ+ identity in their personal lives but not in their professional ones.

LGBTQ in STEMSTEM professionals rate their openness about LGBTQ+ identities in different contexts, from 0 (no one knows) to 5 (everyone knows). (Image: Barres, Montague-Hellen and Yoder)

“An invisible community”

While most research in this area has come out of the US, similar problems exist in Australia. Members of Gay and Lesbian Engineers at Monash University (GLEAM) have not noted a direct correlation between dropout rates and LGBTQ+ identity at their university, but remained unsurprised by the results of these studies.

“It’s no surprise that LGBTQ+ students are less likely to complete their degrees, and there are many reasons for this, whether it be discrimination, social exclusion or mental health issues commonly attributed to the queer community,” they said.

Members of GLEAM emphasised that although there is no competition between LGBTQ+ representation in STEM and women’s participation in STEM (“we are all in the same boat”), members of GLEAM noted many organisations have gender diversity goals but do not have similar mechanisms to increase LGBTQ+ representation.

Mark Latchford, associate director of Australian not-for-profit Pride in Diversity, said the success of one minority is often beneficial for all minority groups.

“Engineering firms and universities have done a remarkable job in trying to balance out gender within the engineering profession – this is a parallel journey. Often an organisation that is seen to be proactive in LGBTQ+ inclusion, for example at campus recruiting fairs, are seen by straight women as being inclusive for women as well,” he said.

However, he too noted that there are some elements of increasing representation of LGBTQ+ employees and students that require specific frameworks.

“There are some nuances about the LGBTQ+ community that are a little different from others, in the sense that is often an invisible community,” Latchford said.

“Someone walks into a room and usually – not 100 per cent, but usually – you know it’s one gender or the other. Someone has an Indigenous background, sometimes that is obvious. Someone is disabled, sometimes that is obvious. LGBTQ+ is often, if you like, an invisible community of diversity.”

Mentorship is key

Researchers from the University of Montana found mentorship, where possible, was a key factor in retaining LGBTQ+ students in STEM subjects at the university level.

“One factor that has shown to make a difference in retention for both LGBTQ+ and STEM students is mentoring and support from faculty. For sexual minority students, LGBTQ+ faculty and staff serve as confidants and sources of support, especially for students who feel incredibly uncomfortable disclosing information about their sexual orientation to others,” researchers said.

However, mentorship opportunities can be hard to come by.

“LGBTQ+ faculty in STEM also report encountering a hostile climate similar to their students,” the researchers said, “and thus many feel a need to keep information about their sexual orientations private.”

Latchford has observed this trend in Australian workplaces.

“It’s important to understand what not being ‘out’ at work really means,” he said.

“Sometimes people say, ‘What’s their private life got anything to do with the workplace?’. But there’s been a lot of research that shows people who are not out in the workforce spend a lot of time distracted in the workforce. They build up a persona that they think suits their work environment, which is very different to their real life.

“If we can develop an inclusive workplace, which is free of poor behaviour, is supported by good practices and good policy, it will allow us to attract LGBTQ+ talent, keep LGBTQ+ talent, and make sure that talent is really doing their best for the task at hand.”

GLEAM is working to combat this at a university level by creating environments for LGBTQ+ students to create support networks among themselves, as well as professional connections with LGBTQ+ professionals within the industry through a series of meet and greets.

“The premise of the industry nights involves organising representatives from various firms in Melbourne to come and speak about their work and experiences they have regarding being a queer person in a business environment,” they said.

“Much like a panel discussion, club members are given the opportunity to build communication with people employed in various positions. These are done to gain perspective on the working environment for a queer person and also to network with people for future employment opportunities.”

Students also cited the need for training policies within the workplace.

“There are trainings available in nearly every university to become an LGBTQ+ ‘Ally’. They involve teaching the recipient about appropriate social behaviour, homophobia, heterosexism and the issues faced daily by an LGBTQ+ person,” members of GLEAM said.

“[We want] to see these trainings extended to the engineering profession to avoid any discriminatory behaviour and to promote a safe work environment.”

Pride in Diversity is already working to accomplish this, offering training specifically for organisations.

“We do provide professional support, which could be training for frontline managers, training for recruiting, training for executives and so forth. We do policy and practice reviews, making sure that leave policies, partner benefits, all these sorts of things are appropriate,” Latchford said.

“We also provide very specific support, for example if someone transitions, we provide help for the individual, for peers, as well as management during that process.”

The future

Researchers noted that fostering an environment for greater inclusion in STEM is in the best interests of the industry as a whole, citing the need for a larger pool of talent.

But it’s hard to be what you can’t see. Recent projects like 500 Queer Scientists are working to tackle the issue of visibility by creating forums for LGBTQ+ STEM professionals to share their stories and encourage others within these fields.

A snapshot of some of the stories on 500 Queer Scientists. The website wants to create a community of support for LGBTQ+ professionals in STEM fields.

Representation at the top also matters. Deloitte and Google recently announced Australia’s Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders, which included many inspiring people working in medicine and tech. However, engineering was noticeably absent, suggesting the cultural shift that is starting to take place in other industries is yet to fully take hold in engineering.

“It will be a great asset if everyone is ultimately accepted and included within the STEM community. Talent and an internal passion for the STEM studies does not discriminate against sex, gender or sexuality,” members of GLEAM said.

“It grants a wider diversity of opinion towards any problem faced by a firm, company or team, which will in turn lead to a far more stable solution. To revolutionise the future with new technologies and innovation, talent from across the spectrum should feel welcome to offer new ideas and solutions in the STEM industries that it could greatly benefit from.”

Credit: Create Digital is powered by Engineers Australia
Author: Mikaela Dery
Mikaela Dery is a staff writer and recent philosophy graduate. Her thesis looked at the ethical implications of AI and its potential as a force for good. She is now only a little bit scared that robots will take over the world.