Category : ANRG

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.

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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.
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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.
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