Gethin Nadin – Director, Employee Wellbeing – Benefex
To create safer spaces in the workplace, we must first acknowledge that there is still a problem with the way we treat people from marginalised and minority groups. This is a hard pill to swallow, but it is undoubtedly the first step in anyone’s journey to acceptance and allyship – this includes for employers.
So, we wanted to share some of our tips on creating safer spaces for your LGBTQ+ employees to be their authentic selves at work.
Bigotry is still a problem
Pandemic aside, the last 18 months have surfaced growing inequalities in our society, and events have brought to the surface the long-standing and systemic issues with regards to how we treat people based on things like their gender or race. As a result of Covid-19, there has been a global surge in anti-Asian discrimination. The murder of George Floyd and Sarah Everard drew global attention to the way we often treat black people and women in our society. While none of these issues are new, they were brought to the forefront of society’s conscience and people were forced to confront their own biases – in lockdown, there was nowhere to escape from news on our timelines. In this way, Covid-19 meant people could no longer turn a blind eye to discrimination.
Specific attention needs to be paid to younger employees; the data say these employees are struggling most by growing up in, and working in, a society that isn’t accepting as we might think. As a society, particularly in Britain, we like to think much of our part in discrimination sits in the past. However, it’s safe to say that – while certain kinds of discrimination have improved – the broad issues of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia still very much exist.
While I’d love to talk more about how we treat women and black employees at work, and I encourage people to educate themselves on these topics, that is not my lived experience. Instead, I’ll be focussing on what has been my experience as an LGBTQ+ employee at work – and why I needed a safe space.