June may be the month associated most with LGBTQ+ issues, rights and – of course – Pride itself, but did you know that February also holds great significance for the community? It marks the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, the growth of human rights, the abolishment of archaic legislation that prevented the “promotion of sexuality” and promotes equity, equality and inclusion for all.
While society is making great strides in ensuring that equity, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) is thought about in our workplaces, less than 48% of professionals believe that their organisation combines discussion with noticeable action, according to our ED&I report for 2021. So, what can employers do to ensure that change really is on the agenda?
The Hays Pride Network was set up in 2019 to support a workplace culture of ensuring that everyone’s opinions and beliefs are always respected, and to help people feel able to bring their true, authentic selves to work. Yvonne Smyth, head of diversity and inclusion at Hays, says, “I’m a firm believer that meaningful conversations can spark change and build awareness and confidence, as we talk and understand more about the lived experience of colleagues.”
Since it was formed, the Hays Pride Network has achieved exactly that – helping colleagues to see that they can bring their full selves to work – and has many exciting events in the pipeline.
You might be concerned about your internal and external communications – especially if you’re a smaller organisation that doesn’t have the budget to hire a professional who specifically looks after ED&I – but fear not. While it’s best practice to have a colleague that oversees your efforts in this area, if you don’t have one, you can always lean on members of the LGBT+ community in your company to ask their advice. You could do this if you’re worried that your terminology might not be inclusive to all, for example. When in doubt – ask those in the community.
For professionals who aren’t in the LGBTQ+ community, it can sometimes feel hard to ‘keep up’ with the correct terminology, meaning many are deterred from having important and meaningful discussions with colleagues. Our advice? Never stop learning. Lean on resources such as the Diversity & Inclusion At Work modules on Hays My Learning, look at the excellent content available on Stonewall, and always keep an open mind and a respectful attitude. Remember that intent is key – it’s okay to get things ‘wrong’ when speaking to a colleague if you’re genuinely trying to understand something or learn from them.
Mike has worked at Hays for 17 years and is currently operations director for Birmingham and permanent lead for the Midlands. He runs the IT and digital technology divisions, alongside policy and strategy.
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