I found it hard at times to write this year’s pride blog post. I knew I wanted to write a piece about creating inclusive culture and finding strength in community, but it’s hard to write about something that you feel should be an obvious and rightful norm. I’ve always been an ally to the LGBTQ+ community, even as a youngster before the concept of an ally existed to me. So sometimes when I speak of allyship, it frustrates me because my brain can’t see it any other way.
But I have also seen friends targeted by bigotry and hate, I’ve seen friends struggle to defend their identity, I’ve seen the consequences of an innocent person being forced to be someone they are not. Sometimes it is important to remember that you as a person are shaped by the world around you. It can become hard at times to sympathise with the ‘it was different in my day’ notion. That’s why Pride is important and that’s why spreading this message is important.
“I was not and had never been a part of a queer community, how to access such a thing was not just a mystery but an impossibility. The loss of which was sizable. Agony in isolation, the shame and pain that I thought was mine alone.” Elliot Page: Pageboy
Pride is a time to celebrate, congregate and highlight the progress that society still needs to make. Pride is a time to spark conversations, collaborations and bring attention to both achievements and injustices all over the world. As businesses, it’s time for us to step up, contribute in meaningful ways and show our communities that we are always a safe space.
To truly be involved with pride celebrations is to contribute in meaningful ways and further the cause of LGBTQ+ rights and equality. The corporate world sees far too many important issues ‘washed’ and pride is not exempt to this. Highlighting issues around consumerism and ‘washing’ shows the growing recognition that businesses have towards actively cultivating inclusion and diversity. Every person deserves to feel safe and whilst progress has been made it’s still not enough. The past decade has seen an ever growing rise in reported hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. We must remember that inequalities and barriers still exist and we must do what is in our own reach to help.
One in five LGBTQ+ people were the target of negative comments at work.
Over a third of LGBTQ+ people feel they need to hide who they are at work.
One in five feel that being LGBTQ+ limits their job opportunities.
-Britain in Work Report
Being an ally is an ongoing mission and is more than putting up a flag once a month, this is at best tokenistic. We often believe in the myth of individualism, that we are independent from each other and the natural world. Whilst we do have individual agency, we show our true strengths when we collaborate and we become stronger when we act together. To move past tokenistic gestures, let’s work together to build stronger communities, safer spaces and secure workplaces.
Even when you as an individual, an employee or an employer have good intentions, unfortunately there isn’t a button for instant inclusion. Instead it is an ongoing, ever evolving journey. Much the same, there is not a singular template that forms an inclusive workplace. Inclusivity should be seen as a process, not a quick fix.
The best employers recognise the value in taking proactive steps to create inclusive culture and there is a wealth of information out there, the internet can be a magical place! Starting points can be as simple as developing clear policies against discrimination, diversity training and the most obvious, taking action on LGBTQ+ employee and customer feedback. As an employee, it may at times feel like an impossible task to generate change. As an ally, use your privilege to speak up and have difficult conversations with managers and bosses.
Being asked to understand your privilege is not an attack, it is simply acknowledging that you feel safe and valued in everyday life and recognizing that not everyone has the same experience. You can put this to work by being an effective ally and advocate for others.
I often hear people talking around inclusive culture like it’s an impossible and bewildering task. It is okay to feel lost at times in an ever changing world, but do not stand idly by and become part of the problem. It is up to you to educate yourself, it is not someone else’s job to give you a lesson on gender identity. Engage with the LGBTQ+ community, work with other businesses that do it well and stand up for what is right. By networking with other members of the community you will not only show strong allyship, but gain invaluable experience and knowledge.
Not sure how to step up? Start here:
Each month, we offer Tribe Talks. A free evening hosted by a Tribe member or friend of Tribe. We are so excited to share that our next Tribe Talk is to celebrate Porty Pride! Our Porty Pride poetry evening will be hosted by the wonderful author and poet, Anne Pia. Click here to find out more and book your free ticket.
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“An equitable outcome is one where every individual from every demographic has the opportunity to reach their full potential resulting in more economic opportunity for everyone.”
The simple definition of equity refers to fairness and justice. Whilst it is easy to list it as a synonym to equality, it is in fact a very different matter. Equality fights for the same for everyone, expecting that this will make people equal. However, this wrongly assumes that we all start out in the same place. Inequality affects many people, historically it has and continues to block marginalized communities.
Equality revolves around the concept of fairness, which makes things tricky as it is often assumed that being fair means that everybody should get the same thing. Equality is only fair if we all start with the same things, equality only works in a world where we are all equal to begin with. The only way to truly remove these barriers is through personalized approaches.
The goal of equity is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people’s ability to thrive. Equity acknowledges that people do not begin life in the same place and unfortunately, evolving circumstances make it increasingly difficult for people to achieve the same goals. Despite leaps of progress, women are still under-represented in the workplace. Even more so, inequality affects people of colour, people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged groups and those in the LGBTQ+ community. This is why equity is so important, peoples experiences are diverse and reach beyond gender.
“ 42% of young women have experienced discrimination whilst working or looking for work. Furthermore, 73% of women experience bias at work—yet less than a third of employees are able to recognize bias when they see it.”
Whether it is deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it not only harder for women to get hired, but it blocks promotion and career progression. Aside from this, it negatively impacts day to day life. Finding connection and support at work is a major challenge. Since most senior leaders are men, women are less likely to have access to mentors who can not only relate to their experiences, but promote important change.
Significant numbers of young women are in precarious financial situations, this hardship is only spurred on in the ongoing cost of living crisis. Young Women’s Trust: Annual Survey 2022 found that 44% of young women have been offered zero hour contracts in 2022, compared to 33% of young men.
“Women and underrepresented groups alone cannot solve diversity and inclusion problems. An ally is a person who stands up for others to proactively build inclusion in our workplace”
So how do we as individuals, or as employers, managers or coworkers ‘Embrace Equity’ in a system which is flawed? One vital way is to become an active ally. Active Allyship in the workplace means that we as individuals must put in the groundwork to not only examine, but confront personal and systematic bias. When we not only witness, but acknowledge bias we can then build actionable change.
Active Allyship is arguably the most important catalyst to not only build but drive inclusion in our workplaces and communities. It must become a daily practice sustained through not only action, but education. Rosanna Durruthy writes about the importance of connection in order to “explore where you can be creating opportunities, build professional bonds and act as a resource and advocate for others in your professional community”.
Ok things have improved over time, but this doesn’t mean we should settle. Nor does it mean that we should overlook barriers that disadvantage groups still face. Make the commitment to yourself to become an active ally, ensure that people’s rights are upheld and respected. It is important to create communities that revolve around compassionate accountability. Remember, your perspective will always be limited by your own circumstances and personal biases. Keep listening, sharing and growing and actively drive for inclusive culture. It is only through embracing equity that we can achieve equality.
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