As we mark LGBT+ History Month, Kelly shares her experiences of how things have changed since she first started her career 15 years ago.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace has certainly come a long way in the last 15 years!
It’s safe to say that during my late teens and early twenties, I was definitely treated differently for being in a same-sex relationship.
I vividly remember that inappropriate questions from colleagues were a frequent occurrence and I didn’t feel the least bit supported by any managers to either raise or discuss these issues. As a young person in their first job, I was too shy to address the issues myself. I didn’t know how to put them into words, and I wasn’t confident enough to seek guidance from anyone either.
How Things Have Changed
As I look back now, thankfully, there has been a definite shift in attitudes and behaviour. Certainly, in the seven years I’ve been with my current company, I have never felt pressure to hide who I am or nor have I been asked any inappropriate questions!
That’s not to say accidents haven’t happened, it’s just that when they do, they are now taken seriously and addressed, for example a few years ago there was an error on an employee survey which had LGBT+ and Bisexual as separate options. When I raised this with HR, they not only recognised and apologised for the mistake, but the following year I was asked to proof the questions to ensure that it was correctly phrased.
The respect this showed me, marked a real sea change in attitudes from when I first started at work but even though there’s now more recognition, there’s still a way to go for many colleagues and employers.
Three Ways Things Have Changed Over the Years
The Road Ahead
The Stonewall Top Employers List is compiled annually by the Workplace Equality Index and provides the UK’s leading benchmarking tool for LGBT inclusion in the workplace.
With ten focal areas, it’s always a good checklist to help avoid complacency in our workplaces, especially during this time of added challenges during the pandemic, when minority groups can be more at risk of feeling vulnerable or marginalised.
The key message for me going forward is, it’s not enough to be passively unbiased anymore, it’s important colleagues proactively protect each other’s rights and sensibilities as we work towards a better future together, from transgender rights and support of female colleagues who are well documented to be less likely to ‘come out’ for fear of career reprisals or discrimination.
Stonewall’s Ten Focal Points:
For more information