LGBT History Month continues to grow in presence and prominence, with public and private sector organisations sharing forgotten histories in their respective fields. Celebrated in February, like many history months, it is dedicated to telling the stories, struggles, and achievements of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities throughout history.
This year was a particularly important year in LGBT History as it marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, following the amendment to the sexual offences act in 1967. The historical ruling still leaves a mark on LGBT+ communities who experience discrimination to this day in public, school and at work. The Human Rights Campaign recently found that 62% of graduates at university go back into the closet when they start their first job. This highlights a need for an elimination of the ‘culture of silence acceptance’ to make room for a more outspoken and explicitly vocal inclusive workplace.
Allow innovation and creativity to reign free
Embracing diversity at work is far from a box-ticking or PR exercise. Like our society, diversity has a tremendously positive effect on businesses, allowing innovation and creativity to reign free and strong. A workforce that reflects the diversity and culture of its clients and customers will permit better understanding of their needs. A mixture of skills and ideas encourages businesses and the employees within them to grow and learn from each other, helping organisations meet their business goals.
Diversity alone is not sufficient. An inclusive approach must also be taken to engage all. Difference is power, and businesses must take proactive steps to encourage and embrace it at all levels and in all of its diversity This is not just limited to ethnic diversity but also disability, gender, generational and of course those from LGBT+ communities.
Businesses should pride themselves in ensuring all employees are in a working environment where everyone is treated equally and fairly. They should also know that their work to support this will not go unnoticed as seen through ranking such as Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index which shines a light on those doing it right. Launched in 2005, the list celebrates the pioneering efforts of organisations that are leading the way towards an inclusive workplace. The list also serves as a really positive way to attract and retain top quality talent in our current volatile job market.
Valuing difference at work
Such benchmarks send a clear message to potential employees that the company respects and values their differences, meaning they can be completely themselves at work. At work, people shouldn’t need to spend time or energy worrying about self-censoring or hiding part of who they are. This will leave more room for productivity, allowing employees to do what they do best, get great results for the business, and spend more time on their personal and career development.
Businesses must take responsibility for addressing this issue. Every organisation, big or small must work to create a culture where employees irrespective of race, religion, gender and gender identity, disability and sexual orientation are happy and confident to work in. At Fujitsu we believe that embracing differences creates a much more interesting and better future for everyone, we call the Power of Difference. Our approach to inclusion is centred on creating an environment where everyone can be their authentic selves without fear of prejudice.
Being 'completely you' at Fujitsu
Through our LGBT+ employee network, Shine, we contribute to nurturing a truly inclusive workforce. We aim to empower, inform, challenge, represent, educate and encourage a much needed shift in thinking. We are able to do this by encouraging our employees to “be completely you”. It’s important to promote this not only in the workplace but also in the public. Our participation in London and Manchester Pride parades showed the community that they have our complete support as a business. Fujitsu was proud to join other organisations in visibly demonstrating our support for a workplace and society where difference is respected and welcomed.
As a company that embraces our current technological revolution it seemed fitting for us to be involved in the first Digital Pride which aimed to bring the celebrations of physical LGBT Pride events, familiar in many countries worldwide, to everyone in the world through the Internet. Through participating in events like this businesses can spread their inclusive messages not just in the UK but globally.
Diversity months are an important reminder of the issues we still have to tackle but it’s what’s done all year that really counts and will make an impact. Companies need to recognise the importance of creating an environment in which everyone can feel comfortable enough to bring their whole selves into work. In order to encourage equality within the workplace businesses need to embody this in everything they do.