Imagine for a second being transported back to the 1970s. Non-heterosexual relationships are considered deviant and an identity that strays from the status quo could get you fired or worse. Society wanted to “cure” what is simply who you are – who you were born to be. While things have improved for LGBTQ+ people since then, many elements of past persecutions are still felt today. But there are ways we can make the workplace a safer place for all.
In the first Qzine issue, The Adecco Group delves into the various ways allies can show up for their LGBTQ+ colleagues. Acting as a guide for allies, this issue can help people understand their place in society and help them better contribute to inclusive workspaces.
What is an ally?
We start with the basics. Simply put, an ally is a straight/cisgender advocate for LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion – a supporter, a friend, a person who wants to see change and is prepared to help bring it about. Allies can be educators and agents for change by normalizing the language used in the workplace when referring to LGBTQ+ people as well as their preferred pronouns. Allies can call out anti-queer behaviour and help to speak out against lingering stereotypes. An ally can be a voice, a safe space and an empathetic ear.
Read the room
As a society, we have undoubtedly come a long way but many LGBTQ+ people remain guarded - for good reason. One in ten LGBTQ+ workers experienced discrimination at work in the last year, according to new research. The same study reports that many LGBTQ+ employees still engage in “covering” behaviours to avoid harassment or discrimination at work, and 50% of LGBTQ+ people are not out to their current supervisor. Very few people have the courage or luxury to walk into a new job 'gay'.
They’re doing the work of living in secret and living in fear. So they should not also have to do the work of creating safe spaces. That’s where allies come in, but it’s not always as simple as establishing a diversity and inclusivity committee.