Pride 2022 – are workplaces genuinely inclusive?

21 June 2022

 

As we mark Pride, Vanessa Sampson, Head of People & Culture looks at whether Pride is actually helping us to create genuinely inclusive workplaces

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“What does Pride mean to you? How do you mark it?” When a colleague asked me this a few days ago, the cogs in my head started turning. I have worked for large corporates in the past and I guess I have just celebrated like others, changed my e-mail signature with the rainbow colours, attended parades and thus felt that I was supporting those that are part of the LGBTQ+ community. The real question that prompted me to dig deeper was “But is that enough?”

As an ally, I am constantly looking at ways in which we can make workplaces inclusive. And undoubtedly, Pride plays a key role in this, as it continues to highlight where bias and inequality is still being experienced.

This year, Pride is also historically significant as 2022 marks 50 years since the first Pride event in the UK and is a stark reminder of the Stonewall riots that engulfed New York in 1969. What really struck me is the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community! From being marginalised over decades around the world and having to battle authorities and backward political systems, to protesting against the draconian Section 28 closer to home; the cruel sense of inequality in everyday life pervaded us all. There was no equal age of consent, no recognition of same-sex relationships, no same-sex marriage, no option to adopt children or to serve openly in the military. There were, and in some cases still are, seemingly impenetrable walls built of ‘NO, this is not for you, you are not welcome here’.  

The UK has made some progress since 1997 but it still begs the question – do we genuinely embrace Pride month and has this actually facilitated a more inclusive workplace? Tech London Advocates, the independent network of 13,000 tech leaders, experts and investors in the UK, has published the research within its Tech for Diversity 2022 report, which revealed that diversity continues to be a challenge for the tech industry.

On the one hand, it’s great that businesses are proactively celebrating Pride month; from changing logos, decorating offices, organising team events to working social media. On the other hand, I do ask myself what a few rainbow flags and logos in the workplace really mean; do they actually drive us forward? Are they purposeful and lead to action? Or is there a danger that we get complacent, beyond the ‘feeling good’ that we have done our part to show our support not challenging ourselves to think beyond ‘the show’ and ask ourselves the difficult questions. Is this show not superfluous without genuine purpose and education, where we look at the past with all its uncomfortable and painful truths and take action to ensure that these inform the future.

To better facilitate a more inclusive workplace, businesses must establish core values based on respect, tolerance and equality; core values that are prioritised in company performance objectives and thus lead to meaningful action. These will then underpin inclusivity ensuring historically significant celebrations such as Pride continue to make the needed impact.

At Locale, we are proud to be a diverse employer that values inclusivity most of all. We may not have changed our logo or decorated the kitchen, but we constantly strive to review our values and behaviours so that people are at the centre of everything we do, whatever their make-up. 

 

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