50 years of Pride in the UK
Every June Pride Month is celebrated across the world to honour the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Lesbians and trans women of colour were some of the key people involved in the act of resistance, and this annual month of celebration is aimed at recognising the significant impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on each of our lives. Since those early brave and courageous acts, we are extremely fortunate today to live in a country where more than seven in ten Brits are supportive of LGBTQ+ people. Nevertheless, there remains more to be done to support the LGBTQ+ community, with it still being recognised that more than a third of staff hide who they are at work in fear of discrimination. With the recent ‘coming out’ of Jake Daniels, the first openly gay male professional footballer in over 30 years, we can only hope that this will encourage others to follow suit and feel empowered to be their true self at work.
This Summer, Stonewall ask that we #TakePride in standing up for the LGBTQ+ community. Their #TakePride campaign is about empowering all of us who support LGBTQ+ rights to display our values, loudly, and proudly, and then take meaningful steps to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people and communities. At Shoosmiths we support this with our PROUD staff network and more.
From an employers’ perspective, the importance of a commitment to diversity is well recognised. Engagement with gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender and non-binary employees is fundamental to the success of an organisation. Allowing all LGBTQ+ staff to feel empowered to be their true selves in the workplace goes a long way; they will, amongst many other things, feel more supported and able to open-up about workplace issues, be more committed to the role and those around them, be more encouraged to develop their careers in a safe environment, appreciate the possibility of mentoring or other peer support, have less absence and will in turn be more productive. There are benefits for LGBTQ+ staff and allies, all other employees, customers and clients.
LGBTQ+ staff networks
Evidence from Stonewall also confirms that setting up an LGBTQ+ staff network is key to ensuring effective equality within the workplace. Such networks are instrumental to eradicating any form of homophobia, transphobia or other discrimination or harassment at work. They allow a mechanism for LGBTQ+ staff (and allies) to come together to share information and provide support.
For employers, it is recognised that having an LGBTQ+ staff network in place ensures:
- promotion of an employer’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and shows that it values all of its staff
- the attraction and retention of talent
- compliance with employment laws
- better communication and consultation on important matters affecting LGBTQ+ staff and allies, in a safe environment
- an enhanced public profile and/or customer reputation
- co-ordination of diversity, networking and/or other social events to promote equality, raise awareness and celebrate diversity
- informal buddying and mentoring initiatives and links to LGBTQ+ communities
Here’s to another 50 years of significant achievements for the LGBTQ+ community, both in and out of the workplace. Again, following Jake’s marvellous and awe-inspiring ‘coming out’ recently, we should only see a stronger and more inclusive world for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender or any other protected characteristic - #[email protected]
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