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Pride 2021: time to support, celebrate and stand together

Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland


In a typical year, Pride is an opportunity for millions to get together in cities across the UK and Ireland to show their support and solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. Whilst ongoing restrictions are making it difficult for us to celebrate in the way we normally would, it’s still a time for us to acknowledge the progress we’ve made towards achieving equality for LGBTQ+ people, and all the work that can, and still needs to be done. It is a time for reflection, action and an opportunity for celebration.

Understanding everyone’s unique circumstances

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns on equality in the workplace has been twofold. In some ways it has highlighted and exacerbated existing systemic inequalities in society and consequently amongst our workforces, with many communities much more likely to experience ill-effects than others.

For many members of the LGBTQ+ community, the extended lack of social contact and prolonged isolation may have had a detrimental impact – research has shown that hostile home environments, feelings of isolation and loneliness and restricted access to health services have all been shown to disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people.

Learning from lockdown

What the pandemic has done, however, is alert both organisations and their workforces to the individual circumstances of their employees and colleagues. This has brought increased understanding of the way bias, against characteristics like race, class, gender and sexual orientation, can create disadvantage, discrimination and inequality.

More than ever, it has highlighted that this is the time for action, both to build on the increased understanding of people’s different circumstances amongst our staff, and to recognise what can be done to make our organisations better, more inclusive places to work.

Allyship at work

A couple of years ago we set up a Pride Network at Hays and it now has over 120 members. The feedback we get is that having this support network in place has been immensely valuable over the past year and I’m sure it will continue to grow.

Action is strongest when steps are taken together and allyship at work might constitute actively getting involved with Pride events, with an employee network if your organisation has one, or even starting a conversation about what your organisation could do to make LGBTQ+ employees feel more accepted. Whether part of the LGBTQ+ community or an ally, we all have a role to play.

We want to help professionals and their employers understand and conquer bias, check out our Diversity and Inclusion at Work staff training package, free from Hays Thrive.

About this author

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

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