We are well into Pride month and it’s great to be able to say that all over the UK people have the opportunity to celebrate who they are, their sexuality and relationships, and what it means to them.
Pride has come a long way over the past 50 years. No longer about a specific group of people, it’s an opportunity for workplaces and communities to learn more about their LGBTQ+ colleagues, friends and neighbours. It also brings a clear chance to encourage greater tolerance and understanding.
Of course, as with so many ‘events/times’ dedicated to protected groups, the goal is for these events not to occur…because if they achieve their goal of complete understanding and welcoming then we will be living in a community where everyone is accepted and celebrated for who they. Yes, Pride has taken huge steps forward on this journey, but we all know there is a long way still to go.
At Inclusive Companies we work with many UK organisations all year round to help safeguard LGBTQ+ colleagues by raising awareness and understanding through educating the whole workforce and championing LGBTQ+ leaders.
As part of our aim to gain greater understanding and to see the goal get that bit closer, we asked a few of our partners what Pride month means to them, what their organisation is doing to celebrate and what changes they’d like to see to achieve greater inclusion of this diverse group.
We spoke to Jonathan Burgess, Legal and Global Recoveries Analyst at FSCS, Kathy Hoppins, People & Inclusion Manager at FSCS, Bryan O’Connor, D&I Champion and Wellbeing Advocate at QA Training and Anna Sadlier-McBarron, Tariff Lead in Southern Water.
- What does Pride Mean to You?
Jonathan: Not just being able to feel comfortable in yourself, but being able to be free and happy to express who you are.
Kathy: A reminder to be there as an ally for each and every member of the LGBTQ+ community. Yes, it’s a time to celebrate but this love and support should happen every month of the year.
Bryan: Pride is about celebrating all the people who make my life, and the lives of others, better. Everyone should be seen for who they are, not what they are. We define ourselves by what we bring to the world.
Anna: It provides a platform of hope and progress to those who, throughout history, have had so little voice. It is also a window in the year when we can reflect upon all the progress made to date yet understand how far that progress has still to spread across the globe.
- What is your organisation doing to celebrate Pride month?
Jonathan & Kathy
- we will be proudly marching alongside other members of the financial regulatory family. We march under our StandOut banner – our LGBTQ+ cross organisational network.
- we will also be taking part and promoting a variety of events being arranged by the LGBTQ+ cross organisational network
- we have a Rainbow Wall of Positivity where everyone, be they a member of the community or an ally, can share messages of happiness, wisdom or something they have learned.
- our Book Club shares a dedicated book list while our Photography Club runs a competition featuring anything and everything to do with Pride
- we have a fun virtual Pride Quiz which raises funds for charity and a Fly your Pride Flag challenge to see where in the world someone from our organisation can fly the flag, home or away
- we open with a blog from our CEO, Stuart Ledger, to all of our 2,500 employees. Stuart is also Executive Sponsor of our LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, ‘BeYou’
- we run a whole day’s training for 25 of our Executive and Leadership team and members of BeYou – ‘The A-Z of LGBTQ+ Inclusion’ (facilitated by Brighton-based mental health charity, MindOut)
- we are hosting a fund-raiser quiz, in person or virtual, for MindOut employees.
- What changes would you like to see organisations make to achieve greater inclusion?
Jonathan: Ensure that D&I initiatives are all year round, not just at specific celebratory times. Organisations should have Senior Leadership visibly supporting these initiatives and encouraging all people to partake in some of the LGBTQ+ events to avoid it being the same people and avoid the danger of it being a closed club.
Kathy: Celebration has to be partnered with education and organisations should collaborate and drive forward change both internally and in society. This year, FSCS is working with Pride UK Quality Standard and Gaydio for the first time.
Bryan: Everyone must feel welcomed, valued and included. This should be at the heart of the culture and working practices of every organisation. Celebrating such rich diversity will lead to great ideas from all members of the workplace.
Anna: Lead by example: the culture change needs to start at Board Level and then filtered all the way through to every single employee. Actively listen and encourage people to share their thoughts and ideas to shape lasting change and bring about an open, enhanced and truly inclusive culture.
I’d like to thank Jonathan, Kathy, Bryan and Anna for their time and valuable insight. It is great to see and hear what organisations and individuals are doing and I hope it gives you some new ideas. There is also the collective message of the importance driving forward new initiatives and making these the ‘lived in working experience’ for everyone in an organisation.
We are reminded of the importance of the networks and stressing that they are not ‘clubs’ with specified members. Their true purpose is to be open to all – just as the workplace and wider society should be.
I wish you a happy, celebratory Pride. And urge you to set yourself the challenge of doing and learning something new this month.