COUNT ME IN!
in the third of an ongoing series we talk to people who are committed to working every day for an inclusive and diverse society for lgbtq+ people and their allies
EXECUTIVE COACH & DIRECTOR
EMMA CUDSIN IS AN EXECUTIVE COACH AND DIRECTOR OF TRANS AND NON-BINARY SUPPORT GROUP GLOBAL BUTTERFLIES
You are Director at Global Butterflies & an Executive Coach. What is Global Butterflies and what does it do?
Global Butterflies is a trans & non-binary inclusion company that aims to help organisations to recruit and support trans & non-binary people in the workplace. We also help companies to provide good and respectful client services to the trans & non-binary community.
What is your background and how long have you been working for Global Butterflies?
My background is over 30 years in senior Human Resources roles in large global financial services organisations. I am an ICF qualified Executive Coach, and I am also a Trustee at the amazing LGBT international charity, The Human Dignity Trust. I transitioned 11 years ago at the Royal Bank of Scotland (who were amazing and very supportive) and I have been working at Global Butterflies on a voluntary basis for the last four years although, since February 2022, I am now working full-time as a Director at Global Butterflies.
What does your role involve?
In Global Butterflies we are a small trans & non-binary inclusion company (there are only two of us full-time) so my role is a bit of everything. I typically lead our Senior Leadership and Human Resources Trans & Non-Binary Inclusivity workshops although I am also a data geek (so I scour the world for data and information on trans & non-binary people) and have a huge passion for global trans & non-binary rights.
Your website says that you help businesses become trans and non-binary inclusive. How do you go about that?
We help organisations take their next step in trans & non-binary inclusion by working with the organisation in a non-judgemental, practical, and humorous way. Many organisations are at the start of their trans & non-binary inclusion journey so we tend to do a lot of knowledge building in these organisations whilst others, which may be more advanced, might ask us to deliver bespoke trans & non-binary workshops or to act as consultants to them.
How important do you think it is for a trans or non-binary individual to be out at work?
Personally, I think it’s very important that we can be ourselves at work. We perform better, we put more energy into being ourselves rather than hiding ourselves. For trans & non-binary people it’s their choice to decide to come out although organisations can do so much to create an inclusive culture where people can be themselves.
What challenges might a trans or non-binary individual encounter which perhaps a LGB person may not?
Trans & non-binary people face some similar as well some different challenges to LGB people when coming out. Coming out as trans & non-binary can be incredibly daunting, especially if an organisation has done very little to raise awareness and knowledge levels. For those seeking medical transition then this pathway can be long especially as the waiting lists for the Gender Identity clinics in the UK are now incredibly long. For non-binary people they have to continually come out to ensure that their identity is respected within an organisation. It can be emotionally and physically draining for trans & non-binary people to continually have to come out in their organisations.
While trans and non-binary visibility, awareness and – arguably – acceptance has increased in the past few years, what more needs to be done?
Here in the UK, I’d argue whether that we’ve seen trans & non-binary acceptance move forward. Yes, we are seeing more visibility although we’ve seen legislative, political and media acceptance (especially news articles) “at best” keep our rights and acceptance static. ILGA Europe now places the UK as 11th for LGBTQ+ rights out of 49 European Countries. Recently we’ve seen the Council of Europe call out the UK as a country of concern for LGBTQ+ rights. Organisations totally get the fact that trans & non-binary people are brilliant and are part of their inclusion strategy. Workplaces are doing amazing work to make trans & non-binary people feel more accepted. Across the LGBTQ+ community we have amazing allies although we’ve seen some prominent LGB people and organisations be very negative towards the trans & non-binary community. We need to be better allies to each other and understand that there is considerable intersectionality between us all.
How important are allies to a trans or non-binary person?
Allies are super important to trans & non-binary people. We have a saying that there is a time for allies to stand behind trans & non-binary people to promote them and let them speak, there’s a time for allies to stand alongside trans & non-binary people, and there are times for allies to stand in front of trans & non-binary people to protect them.
We are increasingly seeing correspondents use their personal pronouns in Their emails. How important is this?
Pronouns are important as they validate who we are. A great ally thing to do is for you to put your pronouns on your email signature and on your social media profiles. It’s a simple thing to do and can act a positive sign that you are OK with this and that you support trans & non-binary people.
On a personal or professional level what is the achievement of which you are the proudest?
On a personal level my proudest achievement was marrying my amazing wife, Rachel Reese, last year. She is my soul mate, and we had an awesome day surrounded by everyone we love. I am also incredibly proud of the work we do at Global Butterflies. We have fabulous clients, and we donate much of our time and money to LGBTQ+ causes, both here in the UK and around the world.
CELIA SANDHYA DANIELS
MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT &CORPORATE ACTIVIST
CELIA SANDHYA DANIELS IS A MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT AND CORPORATE ACTIVIST FOR THE TRANS, GENDER EXPANSIVE AND INTERSEX COMMUNITY
You are the Management Consultant and Corporate activist for the Trans, Gender expansive and Intersex (TGI) community based in Los Angeles. What do these roles involve?
I have established businesses across the globe and managed portfolios worth millions for 20-plus years in the corporate industry.
After I decided to come out in my preferred gender as Celia, it wasn’t easy finding a job at the same level. Unfortunately, when women were struggling at leadership levels within the company, here I was, a gender non-binary, trans woman of colour trying to find my purpose and value in the corporate world. I was offered junior positions or blue collar jobs in various companies, undermining my experience as a professional.
That’s when I decided to start my own company (Rebekon Consulting LLC rebekon.com ) and provide management and business strategy consulting for Healthcare and Pharmaceutical companies. As a corporate activist I educate companies and help change their fundamental culture at the policy level to provide a safe space for the TGI employees and jobseekers.
What is your background and how did you involved in the trans, gender expansive and Intersex communities?
However progressive these organisations are, most TGI professionals still feel alienated, misunderstood and undermined at work. Unfortunately, top-down approach of inclusivity doesn’t percolate down to every level within the organisation. Employees are generally accepting or at least tolerant towards LGBTQ+ professionals. But let’s face it, workplace bias still exists, either consciously or unconsciously. A recent HRC study reported that 53% of LGBTQ workers have heard jokes about gay or lesbian folks at least once in a while at work.
For a long time the acronym “LGBT” has been missing the “T” and the “I”. Why is it so important that these letters should now be included?
These acronyms are evolving based on education and awareness. Bottomline is based on the recent article in USA Today: 7.1% of the adults in the US identify as LGBTQ. As the numbers increase there is so much of backlash to the TGI community. There are more than 220 anti-transgender bills that would greatly impact the LGBTQ community – most focused on school curriculums, healthcare, workplace and sports. We need to work together as a community to support each other and bring changes at the policy level in our country.
TGI employees face immense gender dysphoria, implicit discrimination and bias within their own departments. It might come in the form of offensive comments or plain misgendering which takes a constant toll on their mental and physical health.
What more needs to be done, and what challenges does the Trans, Gender expansive and Intersex community face which their LGB and Ally friends may not face?
I created a Trans ecosystem for an organisation called translatinacoalition in Los Angeles that captures the challenges that the TGI community faces from the cradle to grave. Systemic discrimination can rock the entire universe of TGI individuals. Needless to say, they go through bullying, unemployment, homelessness, poverty, incarceration, mental health and violence, in some form or the other in their lives.
(Go to: translatinacoalition.org/trans-gnc-ecosystem)
The Trans Policy Agenda seeks to expand our understanding of TGI people’s experiences and opportunities to create a healthy and larger ecosystem in humanity.
In personal or professional matters, what has been your proudest achievement?
From a professional standpoint I am proud of the business successes that I had in my career. Recently I was able to educate and change a 30-year-old billion dollar organisation to onboard gender non-binary individuals in the workplace. This was a huge challenge from a compliance standpoint but they made it happen.
Besides that, I received the 2019 Human Rights Campaign’s equality award for“Outstanding commitment and service to our community”.
I also serve on the Executive Board for Trans Can Work( transcanwork.org ), an organisation that focuses on Economic Empowerment for the Transgender and Gender Non-Binary community in North America.I am also the VP of Stonewall Democrats to bring awareness and meaningful change at the policy level in our county.
I also help organisations like Sahodari Foundation in India founded by Dr Kalki Subramaniam, who is a trans trailblazer in South Asia. ( sahodari.org )
What’s a typical day in the life of Celia Sandhya Daniels?
As Kimberley Williams Crenshaw, an American lawyer and civil rights advocate rightly said, “The future is NOT women but Intersectional Identities.”
Besides being an entrepreneur and corporate/community activist, I am a parent of a 22-year-old daughter and have been married to a beautiful woman for 25 years now. Family is an integral part of my journey.
I love photography and film-making. As a song writer and composer, I have written songs to empower the transgender community. I love hiking and snorkeling with my family.
Growing up as a lonely closeted trans child in a conservative middle class Christian home in Southern India, I write and speak passionately about my inner struggles, gender dysphoria and social challenges that I faced in my family, work, school and community both in the US and India.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KALEIDOSCOPE
LADY PHYLL IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE KALEIDOSCOPE TRUST AND THE CO-FOUNDER OF BLACK PRIDE
What is your background both personally and professionally?
I’m a queer Black African warrior woman, socialist, mother and activist. My life is dedicated to the liberation and visibility of LGBTQ communities and I do this work through UK Black Pride and the Kaleidoscope Trust, and through writing, public speaking and advising nascent movements for LGBTQ liberation around the world.
You are the Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust. What is the Kaleidoscope Trust and what does it do?
Kaleidoscope Trust is a UK-based charity working to uphold the human rights of LGBTQ people across the Commonwealth. We believe the UK has a big role to play in addressing and redressing the colonial-era laws that enable the continued discrimination, persecution and violence directed at LGBTQ people.
Our position within the global ecosystem for change is unique: we are trusted by governments around the world to deliver funding and programmes to those who need it most, and we’re trusted by grassroots organisations to raise their voices in spaces they are often not invited into.
You co-founded UK Black Pride over 16 years ago. What is Black Pride’s “mission statement” and why do we need a Black Pride?
At our core, we create safe and brave spaces for the celebration of our diverse identities. We are Europe’s largest Pride celebration for LGBTQ people of colour, and we host an annual event in London during Pride month, with smaller events throughout the year led by community partners. UK Black Pride has grown tremendously since 2005: our first event was just over 400 people and in 2019 (our last in-person event), over 10,000 people joined us at Haggerston Park in East London.
The continued growth of UK Black Pride is a demonstration of its necessity. The issues we face as LGBTQ people of colour in the UK and around the world are not going away and it’s clear that our collective power is the key to ensuring liberation for us all.
How prevalent do you consider racism to be in the LGBTQ community, and what actions can we take to eradicate it?
For the first time, UK Black Pride launched a community-wide survey, We Will Be Heard, to better understand what life is like in the UK for LGBTQ people of colour, and the findings from that survey show that LGBTQ people of colour face racism from within and outside of the LGBTQ communities.
Regarding its eradication, I’m reminded of Toni Morrison: “It seemed to me the problem of racism ought to be addressed first by those who know its ins and outs from the privileged seat of its origin.”
On a personal, and on a professional level, what achievements are you proudest of?
The birth of my daughter forever changed how I view and interact with the world, and a large part of my compulsion to be of service to others and help shape a better world, comes from the impact she’d had on my life.
Professionally, I feel proud to be called into liberation work and am always so honoured when people seek me out for guidance, advice and consultation (with the appropriate cheque, of course!).
Describe Lady Phyll in three words.
Fierce Black woman.
SCOT JONES IS THE PROGRAMME MANAGER OF AN LGBT+ MENTORING PROGRAMME FOR COMMUNITY BUSINESS, A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANISATION ADVANCING INCLUSIVE BUSINESS PROJECTS IN ASIA
Based in Hong Kong, you manage an LGBTQ+ mentorship programme. What exactly does that involve?
Our pilot year just wrapped up in August. The first cohort consisted of 42 people in 21 Mentor-Mentee pairs. It’s a nine-month programme with monthly professional development sessions. The topics range from communication, resilience and well-being to authentic leadership. It’s not unlike other mentoring programmes, but this one focuses on young LGBTQ+ talent. All of our topics are viewed through an LGBTQ+ lens and we use LGBTQ+ facilitators and content as much as we can.
Last year’s cohort represented 15 industries and our goal is to widen the scope each year. Our Mentees are all part of the LGBTQ+ community and our Mentors are either LGBTQ+ or a demonstrated Ally. We fund the programme through corporate sponsorships so there is no cost to participate in the programme. Participants apply as individuals, not as a representative of their companies, so there is no need to disclose their participation if they are not out at work.
The 2021 programme was conducted almost entirely virtually due to COVID-19, unfortunately, but the feedback from the cohort has been excellent and people still managed to build meaningful bonds, which has been really gratifying to see. We look forward to in-person events this coming year.
You also advise clients on their Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) policies and strategies. How important is a DEI policy to the smooth and successful running of a business, and how can that be implemented?
Yes, the company I work for, Community Business, conducts a bi-annual LGBT+ Inclusion Index. Companies use the results to inform their LGBT+ DEI strategies. I think a DEI policy is a vital part of the big picture. Policies alone will not define a company’s culture, but without them people don’t have a clear sense of what the company stands for and what is considered “standard operating procedure”. At the risk of sounding cliché, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion needs to come from the top. Without a strong commitment and message from the leadership of a company, DEI initiatives and programmes will not have the intended effect. If they are done as “check the box” exercises, employees will know, and they will disengage.
We recommend that clients look at every aspect of the business and every point in the employee lifecycle from recruitment to off-boarding. DEI should be imbedded in every process. It can seem overwhelming, but with a clear strategy it can be broken down into manageable projects. If a company is early on their DEI journey, they can focus on one pillar, such as gender or LGBTQ+ and start there.
In terms of LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance, how does Hong Kong compare to the rest of China and what more needs to be done?
I’ll focus on the environment here in Hong Kong. I want to first recognise my privilege. I came here as an expat with my husband and daughter. My experience is not the same as it would be if I were born and raised here.
When we arrived in HK in 2015, I was not eligible for a dependent visa due to the law at the time. Same-sex spouses were not entitled, so I had a tourist visa and had to leave Hong Kong every three-six months to renew my visa. I was not allowed to work, study or even volunteer. I was fortunate to have a young child to devote my time and energy to for those first years here. Thankfully, that law was challenged and overturned in 2018.Our daughter is nine now and I’m happy to be a productive member of the workforce.
Hong Kong has a reputation for being an international city, but LGBTQ+ rights have had to be fought for in the courts. There is still no anti-discrimination legislation regarding LGBTQ+ discrimination in the workplace. Same-sex marriage is not legal and foreign marriages are only recognised for very specific purposes, such as dependent visas and joint taxation. Public opinion is changing for the better towards LGBTQ+ rights, especially with the younger generation. A recent study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) showed that approximately 80 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they supported the right to legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in Hong Kong, as well as same-sex marriage. Progress is being made, but there is still a long road ahead.
On a personal level what are you proudest of?
I’m proud to work for a company that is helping to drive inclusion in Asia. On a daily basis, I get to use my own personal story to demonstrate to people that LGBTQ+ people are just like everybody else, and, as the slogan goes, “love is love”. I joke that I have the gayest job in Hong Kong: LGBTQ+ is actually in my job title!
MBE QC (HON) IS THE FOUNDER & CHAIR OF THE INTERLAW DIVERSITY FORUM
DANIEL WINTERFELDT MBE QC (HON) IS THE FOUNDER & CHAIR OF THE INTERLAW DIVERSITY FORUM
You are general counsel for EMEA and Asia at Jefferies, a global investment bank headquartered in New York. What is your background and how long have you been working for Jefferies?
I am just completing my first year at Jefferies as General Counsel for EMEA and Asia. I have been working as an international corporate lawyer for over 22 years in London and New York.
You work with the InterLaw Diversity Forum. what are the aims of the InterLaw Diversity Forum – and what are its successes?
I founded the InterLaw Diversity Forum in 2008 as an inter-organisational forum for all LGBT+ personnel in the legal sector. Since the launch of the InterLaw Diversity Forum, the legal sector’s performance in Stonewall’s Work Equality Index (WEI) has dramatically improved: In 2007 there were no law firms represented in the Top 100 Employers, and the legal sector ranked second from the bottom in the WEI. In 2017 there were 17 law firms recognised in the Top 100 Employers, and the legal sector was the top-ranking sector overall in the WEI. Stonewall has stated: “A major part of the movement forward for the [legal] sector has been the InterLaw Diversity Forum. It helped provide a sector specific focus.”
We are also very proud of our fundraising work to support the most vulnerable in the LGBTQ+ community, having raised over £500,000 for the Albert Kennedy Trust and their vital work with homeless and at risk LGBTQ+ youth, Switchboard – LGBT+ Helpline, Terrence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, and others.
The InterLaw Diversity Forum was originally created with the LGBTQ+ community in mind. Now it has expanded BEYOND THAT SECTOR Why is this so important?
Since its founding the InterLaw Diversity Forum has expanded its scope beyond LGBT+ to encompass all strands of diversity and inclusion (including Race & Ethnicity, Disability, Gender, and social mobility), with a particular focus on cultural change in the workplace, allyship, and “multiple identities”/intersectionality. Our mission is to foster inclusion for all diverse, socially mobile, and under-represented talent working in the legal sector, and to promote meritocracy in all sectors by working to ‘level the playing field’ in order to create environments where the best talent can succeed.
The InterLaw Diversity Forum currently has more than 9,000 members and supporters from over 300 law firms and chambers, and from over 500 corporates and financial institutions.
WHAT STEPS CAN AN EMPLOYER TAKE TO CREATE A GENUINELY INCLUSIVE AND DIVERSE WORKPLACE?
There are mountains of data to show that a diverse and inclusive workplace yields the best bottom line for a company. Employers need to focus on their culture and collect data to find out where they are doing well and where they need improvement when it comes to LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent.
They then need to focus on those areas of improvement throughout the lifecycle of an employee including recruitment, retention, and promotion. They should be careful not to just follow trends or fads, but to focus on their individual organisation and its culture and people.They also need to focus on leadership training to ensure that are creating an inclusive workplace where all talent can thrive.
In the past few years we’ve seen great advances in our rights. What more needs to be done?
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go.
We are currently having a huge challenge for trans rights in the United Kingdom with a barrage of negativity and misinformation in the media. We need to ensure that all of our community feels safe, protected, and able to live their best lives. We need to ban conversion therapy for the LGBTQ+ community to protect the most vulnerable.We also need to focus on LGBTQ+ families as we are very far behind other comparable places such as New York or Tel Aviv and have modern, legal surrogacy in the United Kingdom. This is critical for LGBTQ+ men for creating families and it should not just be accessible to the wealthy who can afford to go abroad to the United States. We also need greater accountability for our existing DEI laws including the Equalities Act.
It’s 2022. Where would you like to see the legal – and wider – community in 2032?
We have a long way to go for LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent in the legal profession. The InterLaw Diversity Forum’s new research report published late last year is filled with data across all strands of DEI and social mobility and highlights the progress we have made since our last report in 2012 and where we still face challenges. You can see that at: interlawdiversityforum.org/career-progression-report-2021
We are also hoping to see progress across the legal sector driven by DEI and culture data and transparency through the UK Model Diversity Survey (MDS). The UK MDS is a supplier diversity questionnaire which corporate and financial institutions use to monitor their panel firms/legal service suppliers on diversity, inclusion, and culture. The purpose of the survey is to serve as the standard for law firms’ reporting of their diversity metrics. The benefits the survey has are data uniformity, time efficiency, and trending year over year in aggregate and for individual firms. We hope this will lead to a shift in DEI activity towards things that will unlock changes in the recruitment, retention, and promotion of LGBTQ+ and other diverse and socially mobile talent. You can see more information at: interlawdiversityforum.org/uk-model-diversity-survey
On a personal or professional level, what has been your proudest achievement?
In November 2021, I was awarded Queen’s Counsel Honoris Causa (Honorary QC) for both contributions to capital markets in England & Wales as well as contributions to diversity, inclusion and culture in the legal sector through the InterLaw Diversity Forum in a ceremony at UK Parliament by the Lord Chancellor.
Later that month I was also awarded an MBE for “Services to Capital Markets, to Equality and to Diversity in the Legal Profession” by HRH Princess Royal at Windsor Castle to recognise my work for capital markets as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession.
Global Brand Director
ELEONORE MURAUER IS THE GLOBAL MANAGER OF INTIMATE WELLNESS AT RECKITT
You are the Global Brand Director (Intimate Wellness) at Reckitt. What does that role involve?
I am working on the Durex brand where I am responsible for the portfolio and innovation strategy globally. Aside from this, I also have the huge privilege to be the global lead of our LGBTQ+@Reckitt Employee Resource Group whose aim is to ensure that every LGBTQ+ person at Reckitt can bring their whole self to work.
What is your background both personally and professionally?
I was born and raised in Austria by a single mum who taught me to work hard and never give up. After graduating high school, I got a scholarship to study business and economics in France which led me into starting a career in local and global marketing with a big beauty brand. I joined Reckitt in November 2015 and came out at work in 2017 which was a life-changing experience. I said yes to my wife Jen in 2018 and we welcomed our daughter to the world at the end of 2020. This year we will be growing our family as I am expecting baby number two in May.
How important do you think it is for an LGBTQ+ individual – on a personal and professional level – to come out? And what are the advantages of coming out?
I spent the first 10 years of my career in the closet and was only out to handful of friends for a very long time. This experience was draining, exhausting, and led to lots of personal and professional unhappiness.
Coming out lifted a weight off my shoulders in the sense that I felt freer to be my true self, worried less about what other people may think and was able to channel all the energy I spent hiding into more positive and fulfilling things. It taught me as well the value of true friendship and helped me set healthier boundaries both personally and professionally.
If you were to meet an LGBTQ+ person questioning their identity, what would you tell them?
I would tell them to be kind to themselves, take time and ensure they are doing everything on their own terms. While coming out took me a while, I don’t have any regrets as I think I came out when the time was right for me and when I felt emotionally and physically safe to do so.
I would also tell them to cut off as many toxic relationships as they can and try and spend as much time as possible in judgement-free and open environments where they can just be themselves. This is why the role of workplaces is so important for me. We spend one third of our lives at work so it is critical that workplaces become inclusive spaces for LGBTQ+ people.
It’s 2022. Surely homophobia no longer exists in the workplace – or does it? And how does that homophobia articulate itself – and what can LGBTQ+ people and their allies do to challenge it?
I wish homophobia, biphobia and transphobia would no longer exist in the workplace in 2022, but unfortunately, they still do. While thankfully overt hate and hate speech towards the LGBTQ+ community is becoming rarer and less and less tolerated, we are still witnessing lots of micro-aggressions and unconscious biases that are creating difficult environments for the LGBTQ+ community.
Within our Employee Resource Group, which has a huge ally membership, we are trying to tackle and challenge this in three ways. First, we need to ensure that our house is in order and by this I mean that the right policies, benefits and protection are in place for LGBTQ+ people. In that context it is as well very important that Senior Leadership makes their allyship visible.
Secondly, we raise awareness across the organisation. We have lunch and learns with external speakers, town halls where employees share their stories and more informal mixed media clubs that invite for an open discussion.With a spirit of sharing and learning is a great way to create inclusion and kindness. Those events have proven very popular and contribute to a shift in a more open culture.
Lastly, we are a strong believer that allyship starts from within. The L and G need to be great allies to the B, T and Q+ and broader as a community we need to work closely with the other Employee Resource Groups in the organisation to bring intersectionality into the discussion and shape fully inclusive work environments.
On a personal, and on a professional level, what achievements are you proudest of?
On a professional level, I am the proudest of how far our Employee Resource Group has come in one year. We grew our membership from 68 people to over 580, have helped revise and create multiple policies, organise events that drove long lasting positive change and established ourselves as a critical friend to our Global Executive Committee.
We’ve also had recognition for this progress externally – via Stonewall and the HRC in the US – benchmarking our progress is important to spot the opportunities and celebrate the success.
On a personal level, I am proud of how far I have come on my own journey in accepting and loving myself for who I am. Today, I hope that I can use my voice and privilege to further advance LGBTQ+ rights, especially the rights of people in our community that face disproportional discrimination like the trans community.
What is a typical day in your life?
I am getting up at around 7am and after a little family breakfast we drop our little one off at nursery. After a short mind-clearing walk, I start work at around 8.30am mainly for calls with our R&D team who is based in Thailand. It then generally continues quite fast paced through until 6pm when my daughter gets back from nursery. The next hour is then spent playing, bathing, and reading her a bedtime story. After dinner, Ilog back on to finish some work either for my day job or the Employee Resource Group before relaxing to watch a series, the news or read a book.
Ten years in the future – where would you like the LGBTQ+ community and our allies to be?
I hope that in society and in the workplace, we keep making progress. I hope that the most marginalised members of our community finally get given the same rights we enjoy today and that every LGBTQ+ person globally has the freedom to be their true self.
Ideally in 10 years from now our society and our workplaces will be fully inclusive and equitable. And to achieve this, we still have a long way to go and lots of important battles to fight.
Describe yourself in three words.
Honest, courageous and purpose driven.
STRATEGY DIRECTOR AT EY-PARTHENON AND CO-CHAIR OF LGBT+ NETWORK UNITY
JOEL FISHER IS A TURNAROUND AND RESTRUCTURING STRATEGY EXECUTIVE AT EY-PARTHENON AND THE CO-CHAIR OF UNITY, THE LGBT+ NETWORK OF SERVICES COMPANY EY
EY states that “Diversity and inclusiveness are not ‘nice to haves’. They are business imperatives.” Why?
At EY we believe that the best workforce is a diverse workforce. The more diverse you are, the more opinions and perspectives you can offer within teams and to clients. We believe that the highest performing teams are those that have that diverse mix of opinions and, therefore, diversity is a core pillar to business success.
Inclusion, likewise, is vital to the wellbeing and performance of a diverse workforce. People need to feel like they belong in order to be able to bring their authentic self to work and deliver highest level work in their respective fields. It is our firm belief at EY that we must always continue to push to have a workforce reflective of the diversity in society, and a sense of belonging for all staff that work for us.
You’ve written that you belong to two “minorities” – being Jewish and being gay. How has that affected your life – both on a personal and a professional level?
My two minorities have had a huge part in shaping who I am. My Jewish upbringing brought me ideals that are still strong in my day-to-day life: culture, community, family, hard work. My “gay family” has taught me to be authentic, accepting, open-minded and forgiving. These values from my gay and Jewish communities have shaped who I am personally and afforded me a very sustainable and healthy approach to my personal and professional life.
It has sometimes felt appropriate to hide one identity from the other – when I go to synagogue I often hide the “gay side of me”, and when I’m within the gay community it does not always feel appropriate to let people know I am Jewish. I don’t think this conflict of identity will ever go away, but I do feel that managing it and being able to be authentic and flex my authenticity where necessary is becoming a lot easier.
You’re the Co-Chair of Unity which is EY’s LGBT+ Network. What does your role involve and how does Unite help and interact with EY’s LGBT+ employees?
EY’s Unity network is there to fulfill four key functions:
1.We aim to make the LGBT+ community more visible and vocal, both within EY and externally. We do this by connecting the community, having visible role models and holding regular social events
2.We build our allyship base within EY, delivering education programmes within the firm about all areas of the LGBT+ community, our history and what allies can do to support the community
3.We develop future leaders of the firm and in business, by engaging present leaders and developing pathways for LGBT+ employees to progress into leadership roles
4.We engage with external partners, both corporate and charitable. This allows our LGBT+ and allied colleagues to take their experience and expertise to help other firms and charities in their goals of progressing LGBT+ inclusion
I see my role as Co-Chair as being the enabler and the connector. It is my job, alongside my Co-Chair Hayley Vaughan, to harness the incredible amount of energy and passion that emanates from our LGBT+ community and our network’s steering committee, and to maintain it and direct it to the spine of the strategy that the network has. It’s a network structure that is there to empower every member of the community to make a difference.
How important do you think it is for an LGBT+ person to be out at work?
Every LGBT+ person should have a choice whether to be out at work, though I wouldn’t say if you are LGBT+ it is important you are out. Everyone is on their own personal journey understanding their sexual and gender identities and has a right to choose if/ when they want to be out.
However, whenever I feel that any part of my core identity, what makes me authentic, is being questioned, the way that I deal with it is that I ask myself “Is this worth losing who I am?” The answer to that question is almost always no, and so I move away from whatever is not allowing me to be authentic. I made that very difficult decision with my career in the theatre industry (albeit the lack of authenticity was not around my being gay) and was lucky to find EY, a culture where you are not only encouraged to be yourself, but you are given space to discover yourself.
What steps can an employer take to create a genuinely inclusive and diverse workplace?
I believe that diversity and inclusion are two very different things – and that the first mistake we make is thinking that creating diversity is creating inclusion. I believe the opposite: the more diverse we become, the harder it is to be truly inclusive as the more complex a tapestry of people you are trying to create an inclusive environment for. So therefore let me split my answer in two:
1.Genuinely Diverse: I am no expert in diversity recruitment, but an employer can achieve genuine diversity when their workforce and leadership are reflective of the society they operate in (by way of numbers). I cannot advise how to achieve that but believe it is wholly achievable and measurable.
2.Genuinely Inclusive: I do not believe we can ever be genuinely inclusive. As mentioned before, I believe that the more diverse we become the harder we have to work to be inclusive. Therefore, I would recommend employers see inclusion not as a goal but as a continuous exercise, requiring constant attention to maintain and progress. The analogy I like to give is running on a treadmill. If you’re on a treadmill at a walking pace you can maintain that for quite a while, but if you ever stop, you move backwards (you don’t stand still). And there is no goal on the treadmill, no red tape you can run through and say, “Woo-hoo I’ve finished” – no! You have to continue to run for all time, or just choose to step off and stop running. Inclusion is the same: we as employers and individuals have to work on being more inclusive every day, running against our own unconscious biases and institutionalised biases and the more we work, the faster we can run and the longer we can run for. I believe that inclusion is a never-ending development of our stamina to be accepting and open-minded. So my ultimate personal advice: understand this, and set up a function and a process for inclusion whereby it is a constant, never-ending journey towards betterment within your firm. Accept you will make mistakes and be prepared to learn from them. And if you do fall off that treadmill, which you inevitably will, always get back on.
Over the past few years we have seen great advances in lgbt+ rights both in the workplace and the wider community. what else remains to be done?
I think I’d slightly disagree with your question. I think we have seen fantastic advances in the UK for gay and lesbian rights, however, our bi+, trans and non-binary colleagues and friends are still very much left behind. I had my eyes opened extremely wide when taking over as Co-Chair of Unity by my bi+, trans and non-binary colleagues. I remember sitting down with one colleague in particular and, hearing their passion for change, and anger at lack of societal movement to create inclusion for the bi+ community. It shook me to think that I, as a member of the LGBT+ community that felt pretty accepted, could have overlooked such an important and large part of our community and, since this conversation, I have made sure I do not repeat that mistake.
We as an LGBT+ community need to understand that we have a responsibility to look behind us and see who we are leaving behind when we individually feel more included. I was at fault in the past of not doing that and thinking that if I as a gay man was comfortable then all my LGBT+ friends and colleagues were too. This is not the case, and we all need to work tirelessly against the stigma, biases, erasure and, in the case of our trans colleagues, legal erosion of rights, that we are seeing.
There is so much still to do and it is one of my main goals to address these imbalances and educate everyone on the urgency of some of the issues facing our LGBT+ community.
LGBTQ+ ADVOCATE AND SPEAKER
KARYN SKULTETY IS AN LGBTQ+ ADVOCATE AND SPEAKER BASED IN COLORADO, COMMITTED TO REPRESENTING UNDERREPRESENTED INDIVIDUALS, ESPECIALLY OLDER LGBTQ+ PEOPLE
You are a passionate and committed LGBTQ+ speaker and advocate based in Colorado. What does that role involve?
I made the decision to move back to Colorado (where I grew up) largely based on my need to advocate and connect with my passion as a queer person with two children and with ageing parents. I think many of us pour so much of ourselves into our social justice work, career and advocacy that we reach a moment where we lose perspective on who we are as our own LGBTQ+ person. So, much of my role since my move has been on being a mom, a daughter and a member of a chosen family of LGBTQ+ people who have faced our own particular challenges during the global pandemic.
That said, I have been providing consultation and leadership on projects that involve a more traditional ageing service provider partnering with a LGBTQ+ community organisation to build new models of care. This is the work I’m most passionate about! In addition, I’m honoured to have joined the Board of Directors of two Denver-based nonprofits – Envision:You (focusing on mental health services for LGBTQ+ people) and OneColorado (providing advocacy and political support for LGBTQ+ people).
You have also been an Executive Director for Openhouse based in San Francisco. What does Openhouse do?
Openhouse provides housing, services and community building for LGBTQ+ seniors in San Francisco. They opened San Francisco’s first (and only!) LGBTQ+ welcoming affordable senior housing buildings and provide some of the most innovative care models for ageing LGBTQ+ people in the country.
In the past few years we’ve seen great advances in LGBTQ+ rights. What more needs to be done?
So much! I think the most pressing challenges are often those facing individuals in the transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) communities. There are constant assaults on the rights of this part of the community – unfortunately both from LGB people and the larger world. This can look like anything from misgendering to actual violence to the attempts to formalise discrimination through horrific new laws and policies being enacted all over the world.
What challenges do older LGBTQ+ people face which, perhaps, younger LGBTQ+ people do not, and how can we address those challenges?
LGBTQ+ seniors face a number of challenges. We know from the research that they experience significant health disparities and extremely high levels of isolation compared to the cisgender/ heterosexual ageing population. The problem that I spend the most time thinking about is the fact that traditional care models for seniors do not come close to meeting their needs and we see that they do not use these services, even when they are desperately needed.
I am passionate at finding ways that we can bring together the knowledge of LGBTQ+ communities, especially seniors, and have them rebuild our care models to support seniors ageing in place, surrounded by communities of support.
Describe a typical day in the life of Karyn Skultety.
This question made me laugh because there isn’t a typical day right now! As I said, the last six months have been more focused on my own kids and well-being and I definitely want to be able to say that out loud and with pride! But if I tell you I wake up and wear sweatpants to get my kids to school on time it may not impress your readers!
TO DATE ON EITHER A PROFESSIONAL OR PERSONAL LEVEL WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?
Absolutely without a doubt, getting to be a mom to my two kids – Quinn and Nova – is my proudest achievement. And the way that they see the world, including their own passion for fighting for the rights of LGBTQ+ people, especially seniors, inspires me like nothing else. One of the most poignant moments in my life as a leader was having LGBTQ+ seniors thank me for bringing my kids to spend time at our community events at Openhouse. As one of them pointed out, LGBTQ+ seniors came of age at a time the world told them that they were dangerous to children and very few had the opportunity to have children in queer relationships. Watching my own kids interact with the people who fought for the rights that allowed me to be a queer mom is the most powerful opportunity and I cherish it.
DAVID GREVEMBERG CBE
CHIEF INNOVATION AND PARTNERSHIPS OFFICER
DAVID GREVEMBERG CBE IS THE CHIEF INNOVATION AND PARTNERSHIPS OFFICER FOR THE CENTER FOR SPORTS AND HUMAN RIGHTS
You are currently the Chief Innovation and Partnerships Officer for the Centre for Sport and Human Rights based in Geneva, and before that you were the CEO for the Commonwealth Games Federation out of London. What do these roles involve?
In both roles I have served as an executive leader representing social movements in the world of sport. As CEO of the Commonwealth Games federation, I served for six and half years overseeing the successful awarding, coordination and delivery of the Commonwealth Games and Commonwealth Youth Games as well as championing numerous strategic, organisational development and social change initiatives across 73 nations and territories.
In my current role as Chief Innovation and Partnerships Officer for the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, I am responsible for embedding the respect for and protection of human rights across the global sports ecosystem and major sport events around the world through education and training, capacity building and value generation initiatives targeting public, private and third section organisations in the global sports industry. I’ve also had the privilege of stewarding the development of the Centre’s four-year strategic plan, Convergence 2025.
What was your background before this?
Previously, I was the Chief Executive Officer of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (Glasgow 2014 Limited), with ultimate managerial responsibility for the organisation’s successful preparation and staging of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. There, I was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company, overseeing recruitment of a workforce of around 1,400 paid staff, up to 15,000 volunteers and around 30,000 contractor roles as well as the procurement of over £300m-worth of contracts to support the delivery of the hugely successful Games on time and under budget. Furthermore in this role, I was the chief liaison with national and local government and many other stakeholders, and played a leadership role developing and innovating a variety of sport, commercial, cultural, community engagement, corporate social responsibility and legacy programmes. I served for 11 years as the Executive Director of Sport and International Federation Relations at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) headquartered in Bonn, Germany, from 1999-2009. I was also a competitive Olympic style wrestler and have served as a coach, athlete agent, team administrator, consultant and board member throughout my career.
Increasingly more and more athletes are coming out publicly in their chosen sport. How important do you think it is to be out – both in the sporting world and indeed in the workplace?
In our ever-changing and complex world, having the necessary respect, protection, promotion and enablement to be our authentic selves is critical. This is the only way we can truly achieve our full potential, physically, mentally, spiritually – and more recently – virtually. Sport bodies and the entire sports ecosystem are fundamentally changing in respect and recognition to the diverse identities senses of being and belonging that individuals embody in order to uphold their duties of care and maintain their relevance and resonance to those they serve and represent. I believe that it is critical in sport, at work and in life that any entity with a grand platform with great influence plays a catalytic part in invoking social change and progress at every opportunity. Each one of us has the power to evolve our understanding, our conversations, our narratives and our actions in support of the LGBTQ+ community. It is critical that we all perpetuate that people within the LGBTQ+ community have the same safety, support, voice and agency to exercise their rights and freedoms in sport and life than any citizens.
Some sports are notoriously, if not necessarily homophobic, then at least intolerant of LGBTQ+ athletes. How can we address and change this situation?
This comes down to sports leadership and culture. From the language that we use, to the values we espouse, through to the decisions we take and the personality we project – all of these actions have an impact on the safety and welcome of the environment we create in a club, governing body or sports movement. Building greater awareness and knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community is the foundation to knocking out ignorance, fear, anxiety and prejudice. This helps to expand people’s perspectives on LGBTQ+ and acts as an incentive and call to action for leaders to embrace and uphold inclusive cultures. With this foundation, capacity can be built to develop and implemented explicit regulations outlining expectations around inclusive behaviour and activity. This combined with meaningful representation, voice and agency have the power to create contextually agile environments that adapt to diverse needs and ensure equality. Only by implementing such measures will people feel willing and able to safely be their authentic selves. Cultures and systems that overtly or inadvertently tolerate discriminatory behaviour and do not build awareness, advocate and take action on matters of equality, diversity and inclusivity in all its forms are complacent and part of the problem not the solution.
Tom Daley has called for next year’s World Cup in Qatar to be boycotted where homosexuality is illegal. Do you think such boycotts work, or are their other ways to change people’s attitudes?
I believe that all nations and localities should be able to bid to host mega-sporting events and bring these celebrations of human achievement to their people, provided that, in doing so, they demonstrate their commitment to meeting their responsibilities and obligations under relevant international human rights instruments, principles and standards in relation to the event. We need to develop more human-centred approaches to conducting human rights due diligence at all phases of hosting an event, from bidding to realising legacy. Equally we should recognise that contextual agility is important and that shifting the dial on various social issues to progress freedom, fairness, equality and justice requires being on the ground, engaging and having courageous conversations with diverse stakeholder to build respect and understanding in order to take brave and bold action together. Boycotts often polarise positions and can entrench views versus encouraging or stimulating engagement and in a sporting context can put athletes in impossible situations in terms of compromising their livelihood and achieving their dreams and aspirations. I believe sport bodies should do everything possible throughout the event lifecycle to ensure that events are run responsibly and are used by hosts to build societies that respect and protect our common humanity.
What has been your proudest achievement either professionally or personally?
I am privileged to have many proud achievements and moments I hold dear. One achievement that applies to LGBTQ+ advocacy and activism is focused around our programmes and activity at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Some highlights including orchestrating during our opening ceremony a kiss between John Barrowman, Scottish actor and musician, and a male performer to showcase Scotland’s support of the LGBTQ+ community and bring global awareness of anti-homosexual legislation in 42 out of the 53 Commonwealth countries at the time of the games. This sign of peaceful LGBTQ+ advocacy and activism was subtle, but very effective, to an audience of over 1.3 billion views worldwide. We also hosted an official Pride House during the Games, where I was a patron, with a range of events and activities celebrating the LGBTQ+ community as an official part of our Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.
MANAGING DIRECTOR AND TRUSTEE OF CHARITIES GIVEOUT AND DIVERSITY ROLE MODELS
MANAGING DIRECTOR AT FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP MACQUARIE AND WAS THE CO-CHAIR OF ITS LGBTQ+ NETWORK IN ITS EMEA REGION. HE IS NOW FOCUSSING FULLY ON DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION, PARTICULARLY LGBTQ+ INCLUSION, ON A CONSULTING COACHING AND CONTRIBUTORY BASIS.
During your time at macquarie as Managing Director and Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ network in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region What did that role involve?
At Macquarie Group, the Pride EMEA network, is extremely visible and energetic, working with other internal stakeholders to promote an inclusive workplace where all employees feel psychologically safe to bring their whole selves to work. The network is open to all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – and I am very proud that, during my time as Chair, its membership (including allies) snowballed from only about a dozen people to now include about one-third of all 2,000 or so Macquarie staff in the EMEA region.
Along with my fellow Co-Chairs, I oversaw and gave strategic guidance to a steering committee of highly committed staff members – both LGBTQ+ and allies – who produce a relentless campaign of educational, fundraising and celebratory events and communications campaigns to ensure that LGBTQ+ inclusion, in and out of the workplace, is always part of the corporate conversation. The network additionally curates training for allies, produces resources (such as guides for staff about all matters bi, trans and non-binary), and helps to equip executive management as inclusive leaders and role models through reverse mentoring.
It also has a strong outward focus, devoting efforts to de-stigmatise the financial services industry in the eyes of potential LGBTQ+ entrants, and collaborating with, and supporting, multiple other LGBTQ+ organisations and networks, such as Interbank, Stonewall, the London Bisexual Network, Trans in the City, MyGwork, PinkNews, and the British LGBT Awards.
In recent years, aware of the compounded marginalising effects of having multiple minority characteristics, I have steered the network to an increasing focus on intersectionality, and the network has consequently led powerful collaborations with Macquarie’s other staff networks, including those for gender, minority ethnicity and parents/ carers.
Your remit was over the EMEA region which includes some countries which are not particularly recognised as LGBTQ+-friendly. What particular challenges do LGBTQ+ employees face in those countries?
Regrettably there remain many countries where being one’s authentic LGBTQ+ self is illegal (and, in some cases, even a capital offence), including in the EMEA region. Having lived and worked for three years in Singapore, where it is also still illegal to be gay, I can personally relate to the conundrum faced by staff in such countries, balancing the value of authenticity with the need for personal safety.
I have been humbled many a time to receive comments from people in such challenging countries that my work or actions have helped them in their personal journeys – and by modelling best practices of inclusion organisations can and do encourage positive change, by keeping the issue high on the agenda. I remain optimistic that progress is coming – after all, during my own lifetime it has been illegal to be gay even in my home country, the UK!
How does Macquarie support its LGBTQ+ employees?
Macquarie aims to harness the power of diversity, equity and inclusion to create a sustainable, high-performing organisation by creating an environment where everyone can bring their whole selves to work. This is particularly critical for staff with “invisible” minority characteristics.
Macquarie is an inherently entrepreneurial organisation, empowering staff to identify and lead initiatives. This philosophy extends also to Macquarie’s support of its LGBTQ+ employees, mandating them to act as a positive force for change – by, for example, endorsing and funding the progressive agenda of employee network groups like Pride, operating under a wider, formalised DE&I structural architecture.
How important do you think it is for an LGBTQ+ person to be out at work?
Coming out at work is not always easy; I was halfway through my 35-year career before I grasped the nettle to do so. Context is everything; is it safe, will you suffer discrimination, or ostracism? Starting work in professional services in the conformity-oriented, highly heteronormative environment of the City of London in the 1980s (and later in Hong Kong and Singapore), I had not yet developed the personal resolve – or even, to be honest, the self-awareness – to be out at work. On reflection, there was insufficient psychological safety in my previous workplaces to allow me to take that step.
The value of being one’s authentic self, and of being able to commit to full workplace involvement without reservation for fear of outing oneself, is immeasurable. The benefits which being out at work brings to the individual are internal and external – improved mental well-being personally, as well as being a valuable example to others. Personally, I feel it is incumbent on me, and other leaders, to try to be such an example – as visible and vocal role models, both in and out of the workplace.
The feeling of not being alone, which relies heavily on visible role models and networking initiatives, the importance of which should never be underestimated, was a huge source of encouragement for me, especially when based in certain countries where attitudes about LGBTQ+ are less evolved. I recall the fortifying feeling of solidarity from attending networking events, like the colourfully named “Fruits in Suits” in Hong Kong and Singapore, which helped me no end in undergoing the process of bringing my whole self into my own workplace.
Did you receive any negative reactions when you came out in the workplace, and, if so, how did you deal with it?
Coming out at work was far from easy for me, not least because I was living in Asia at the time – with my family and potential support network several thousand miles away. In fact, it was not until I started work for a bank where my immediate departmental boss was gay, by which time I was close to moving back to Europe, that I felt able to come out at work.
Fortunately, perhaps in part because of my relative seniority by then, I did not face much overt homophobia at work, although occasional inappropriate comments and assumptions were expressed (“You play competitive tennis? Really? What if you break a nail?”). My response was to own it! I was galvanised to fight for better awareness, education, and inclusion, and to that end, in 2010, a few colleagues and I jointly started the first LGBTQ+ staff network at my previous employer. I redoubled my efforts in this space when I joined Macquarie in 2013.
What steps can an employer take to create a genuinely inclusive and diverse work force?
To create a genuinely inclusive and diverse work force, an environment of psychological safety, which I have already mentioned, is an absolute imperative for commercial organisations. Feeling comfortable to speak up, to be able express a contrary view or perspective, without having to worry about being adversely judged (or even censured), is critical to protect against risk and to promote organisational learning and improvement.
The importance of psychological safety is, I believe, self-evident; any instance where an employee feels the need to devote energy to the distraction of “covering”, or to withhold full participation in or contribution to workplace teams, generates a sub-optimal situation for the organisation (as well as the employee) – it makes no business sense. It can also be dangerous: limiting the diversity of respected perspectives, encouraging “groupthink”, and even, in the example of my own industry, financial services, adversely affect culture and conduct – an area of utmost focus these days for regulators.
A formal commitment to DE&I, well-resourced and overseeing employee network groups are critical in facilitating this psychological safety. This includes encouraging and recognising the (typically voluntary, side-of-desk) efforts of staff at all levels who work to promote a culture of inclusion across all minority characteristics.
In addition, it is essential to recognise that certain organisational features can be inherent barriers to full inclusion if not tackled. These include hierarchy, which can prevent “lower-ranking” voices being heard equally, and meritocracy, which can promote affinity bias and discourage contrary views.
And then, of course, there is role modelling: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” At all levels, visibility is important, but especially so for executive management in setting an inclusive tone from the top.
You’re a trustee of the charities GiveOut and Diversity Role Models. What are their missions?
GiveOut is an award-winning international LGBTQ+ community foundation, seeking to help address the shortage of resources and funding available to courageous activists working to protect and improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people in many countries, especially in the Global South and East. The LGBTQ+ community and its allies genuinely want to provide support, but often find it difficult to do so. GiveOut addresses this urgent need by providing a platform for supporters to give, tax efficiently and in one place, to fund LGBTQ+ human rights activism worldwide, while validating the merit of the recipient activist organisations.
GiveOut is currently using resources raised to fund 33 LGBTQ+ organisations around the world. These include IraQueer, Iraq’s first LGBTQ+ organisation; TransWave, the leading organisation in Jamaica; and Rainbow Railroad, which has coordinated efforts to evacuate LGBTQ+ people from Afghanistan. By 2024, GiveOut’s ambition is to provide grants totalling at least £1 million annually.
Diversity Role Models (DRM) is a UK LGBTQ+ charity which promotes inclusion and builds empathy through educational workshops in schools, featuring personal, lived-experience stories from LGBTQ+ and ally role models.
The workshops help students understand the impact of their language and actions, equipping them with the skills to challenge homophobic, biphobic and transphobic comments and bullying happening within the student body, driving a shift in school culture towards celebrating and embracing differences.
To ensure sustained change, student workshops are supplemented by the training of staff, governors, and parents/carers. In the past 10 years, DRM has delivered nearly 5,000 workshops to over 130,000 students.
In the past few years, we have seen great advances in LGBTQ+ rights. What else remains to be done?
The terrific progress achieved by the LGBTQ+ community in recent years remains, fundamentally, fragile; that it should never be taken for granted is clear from the abundant evidence, near and far, that rights can quickly be rolled back and anti-LGBT+ sentiment can readily arise and swell.
So, although we must never stop striving for our ultimate goal of unfettered equality, we must equally acknowledge that not everyone is a believer, and consequently we must be on constant guard to ensure that backlashes are identified and addressed, in order to prevent our hard-won progress being forced into reverse.
To do this, we must emphasise intersectionality – no one is just LGBTQ+ – and outreach efforts which highlight similarities are essential to foster understanding and empathy. Intra-community echo chambers, although great for building morale and solidarity, can be dangerous places if they encourage too much introspection.
We must also acknowledge that the community is broad, spanning sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. For that reason, education (including self-education) about each other’s characteristics is essential to boost understanding as, despite the clear differences, much of the struggle is common.
I personally find the sentiment within the community recently over trans rights and inclusion saddening and worrisome; as an ally, I wholeheartedly believe in full trans inclusion. A major challenge going forward is therefore to engage with the gender critical lobby and try to re-create solidarity; to resist negative external forces, we are much stronger when unified.
What has been your proudest achievement in this context?
I am humbled to have been recognised with several plaudits for my work promoting LGBTQ+ inclusion –including winning the Inspirational Leader Award at the British LGBT Awards in 2019, being shortlisted for the Corporate Role Model Award at the PinkNews Awards in 2018 (and 2022), and being ranked in OUTstanding’s list of the top 100 leading LGBTQ+ executives globally in each of 2018, 2019 and 2021.
But what really makes me most proud is actually the difference I have been able to make, and am determined to continue making, in this space – whether boosting my employers on their DE&I journeys, mentoring many younger LGBTQ+ people (at work and in my personal time) and energising them to join the quest for inclusion, or supporting the work of many LGBTQ+ charities and other multilateral platforms and organisations. In the future, I plan to devote an increasing portion of my time to all of these – there is a never a lack of things to prioritise!
Certificate of Diversity practices
Together in solidarity we will be pro-active in bringing an end to pink-washing and tokenism towards the LGBTQ+ community during and after Pride celebrations and to build a sustainable inclusive future.
The CODP is awarded to organisations across the UK and around the world that have worked authentically towards creating LGBTQ+ inclusive workplaces.
Organisations with a proud and proven record of diversity and inclusivity will be deserving recipients of the Pride Life Certificate of Diversity Practices, the ultimate gold standard of LGBTQ+ accreditation, authentically respected as part of the Seal of Approval and Executive Leadership Programme.