June is well-known as Pride month for the LGBTQ+ community – a month where queer people celebrate their existence, pay tribute to the progress made with Queer rights and remember those who came before us!
As a Queer person myself, it is great to have the opportunity to write this blog expressing how I feel about this month and how I feel as a queer person working at Canda.
Where are we today?
Why is Pride Month Important? Are companies, allies and wider society doing enough or fulfilling the purpose of this event? Are we as a community supporting each other enough?
A study found that 52% of LGBTQ+ people have experienced depression recently, 1 in 8 LGBTQ+ people have experienced unequal treatment from healthcare staff and only 46% of LGB are open about their sexuality with their family.
Currently, we are seeing a wave of international leaders, governmental parties, societies and radicalised groups attacking our community and our rights. Not only that, we are also seeing a lot of LGBTQ+ community members attacking trans* people and looking to separate themselves from the letter ’T’. For example, you will likely see multiple people renaming the community as LGB excluding trans* people – an act which makes me think that they don’t have access to the needed tools to understand differences or, in some cases, are unable to understand others even with said tools at their disposal.
We are seeing a rather worrying increase of policies, laws and speeches of hate from media and social media with conversations on day-to-day life targeting trans* people. A clear example is the UK Government who keep restricting their rights such as health, social safety and discrimination in sports. As a result, trans* discrimination and hate attacks keep increasing. When you look back at Stonewall and the spectacular movement created in the late 60’s to fight for our rights as well as women’s rights (when I say women I am talking about all women without any exclusion), you will see that trans* women such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera led those demonstrations. They fought against police repression and made it possible for our community to be where we are today.
So to me, it is outrageous our own community is turning their backs on trans* people merely because they are less-knowledgable or don’t have the willingness to educate themselves. WE MUST STICK TOGETHER!
Even though the trans* community is experiencing the most hate from society, all of us are at risk of losing our rights.
My experience with Canda
Given the current situation, I feel super grateful to be part of a company like Canda – the study mentioned above found that 43% of LGBTQ+ employees haven’t revealed their orientation at work but this is not the case at Canda as I have been open about my identity since I joined. Not only was I embraced by everyone from day one, but I was also given the opportunity to lead company-wide training on our community which received super positive feedback with a lot of interest from my fellow colleagues/pandas who were willing to learn and up-skill themselves when it comes to LGBTQ+ people; both at work and in their personal lives. Everyone at Canda is super welcoming and willing to listen and understand to people from every walk of life.
It feels great to share my personal experiences as a Queer person – something that was not possible for me for many years of my life. Like many of us, I have experienced bullying at school, at home, at work and in the street. It is an awful feeling when you don’t see yourself belonging anywhere.
So what’s next?
Moving forward, we as a community would love to see more support from the UK Government. We are not asking for anything unsustainable, we just want to feel safe. So, I hope that Number 10 really starts to listen to us and starts strengthening our protection from hate and abuse, protecting us from discrimination and harassment and making a legal ban on conversion therapy a reality (This petition recently closed with 256,392 signatures!)
On top of that, companies around the world should have clear policies that protect us from bullying and harassment at work. I am one of the lucky ones that feel super protected at work. We spent most of our day at work, so to not feel safe and happy will not only damage our mental health and general well-being but also our overall performance. It does not need to get to that point – companies can protect us now, by helping promote understanding within their teams, encouraging learning on DE&I topics which directly affect us and empowering our community to share their stories.
Let’s work for a better future together, let’s have diversity and inclusion as a priority and not as a mere box-ticking activity and virtue signalling online.
Train your employees, train people around you and educate yourself. We are all living on the same planet and working toward the same goals at work, LET’S EMBRACE EVERYONE – not only during June but all year long.
Where can you find out more?
My G Work: https://www.mygwork.com/en/my-g-news
Stonewall UK Workplace Equality Index : https://www.stonewall.org.uk/creating-inclusive-workplaces/workplace-equality-indices/uk-workplace-equality-index
Stonewall Diversity Champions Programme: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/join-diversity-champions-programme
The Inclusion Imperative (DE&I consultancy): https://www.theinclusionimperative.com/activity
Chisom Udeze (An incredible DE&I speaker – I have been to some of her workshops and they are super informative!): https://www.linkedin.com/in/chisomudeze/
Other Box (An award-winning MEDIA company, educating on bias, diversity, equity and inclusion): https://www.theotherbox.org/