As Pride Month comes to a close, we sat down with Kubrick’s Alumni Community Manager and member of the LGBTQIA community, Charlotte Clark, to discuss the significance of Pride, inclusivity in the workplace, and how we can keep the conversation going beyond June to make impactful change.
First and foremost, why is LGBTQIA inclusivity important to you?
As someone who identifies as part of the LGBTIQ+ communities, it is very important to me that organisations - and society at large - engage in challenging the hegemonic stereotypes which create exclusionary environments. Businesses which openly state that they are equal employers and encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds are on the right track, but rarely do you see organisations go beyond the bare minimum of painting a rainbow on their logo during Pride month and instead take meaningful action to normalise, encourage, and celebrate their LGBTIQ+ employees.
Over the last few decades, we have seen more and more organisations attempting to recruit a diverse and inclusive workforce. What are some ways that you have seen or experienced this shift in the professional world?
I can remember a time when ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was still the go-to policy. In those days, it felt really disempowering and isolating to have to constantly hide part of your identity. For instance, I once brought a girlfriend to a work party where everyone kept referring to her as my ‘friend’. I could not grasp why my colleagues’ guests were introduced as their partners, but mine was not. That sort of othering and discrimination leaves a mark that you carry with you into your next experience. Now things are moving in the right direction and many organisations are actively promoting, attracting, and celebrating LGBTIQ affiliations, such as partaking in Pride. It’s such a stark change to how it used to be - even only 15-20 years ago.
As diversity becomes a key priority, what are some of the best ways you have seen workplaces create an inclusive space?
There are some wonderful approaches that businesses are taking, however I sometimes question the intent behind it. Initiatives like affinity and consultation groups are a fantastic way of understanding the lived experiences of individuals, whose advice has an unparalleled value to underpin evidence-based action - but all of this starts with the data. Organisations need to be weary of jumping into an initiative before talking to their communities, asking them to disclose their affiliation – if they feel comfortable – and utilising that data to create actions which are truly impactful. Once you understand the affiliations and diversity of your employees and wider community, affinity groups are a great way to empower individuals to both support and celebrate each other, as well as cultivate an environment of allyship.
You mention the importance of allyship in the workplace. What does being an ally to the LGBTIQ communities mean to you?
In my opinion, being an ally is one of the most powerful and influential things you can do! Normalising discourses and dispelling ideas about hegemonic standards is what empowers equality. Allyship can take many forms, such as attending Pride with your friends, standing up against discrimination, and avoiding using definitive masculine/feminine language based on preconceptions about gender. Allyship is about stopping the othering and instead celebrating each other’s differences. In order to get to that place of equality, we need people who identify as heterosexual allies to be in this discussion so we can work together.
Do you have an example of a time when you have seen your colleagues being allies that you would like to share?
I have been very fortunate to work with some incredible organisations which made fostering an inclusive environment a priority. Since joining Kubrick, I’ve felt empowered to be myself and not hide that I am someone who identifies as LGBTIQ. Colleagues from across the business have engaged with me in meaningful conversations about diversity with a proactive attitude towards learning about LGBTIQ experiences. Even this opportunity to have my voice heard in this interview is significant and valuable, not only to me personally but for normalising the experiences of individuals outside of heteronormative discourses.
What are your top tips for people who want to be an ally to LGBTIQ colleagues but are unsure how to go about it?
As a first step, you should say that you want to be an ally openly and without fear of judgement. Most organisations have a supportive Leadership and HR team, which is certainly the case at Kubrick - they are visibly interested in continuing to learn about fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity. Identify that leader who you are comfortable talking to and ask them directly about the steps that your organisation is taking to support diversity and inclusion of LGBTIQ employees and how you can get involved in allyship initiatives. Some companies offer mentoring programs to facilitate understanding and living the role of an ally, as well as various training initiatives that can be useful.
Second, don’t be afraid to call people out on language that is not inclusive. We still regularly hear terms like ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ used derogatorily because it has been normalised over the years. As an ally, you can quickly and effectively challenge that language – it takes just two seconds to say ‘Hey, do you mind using a different phrase instead?’.
It has been over 60 years since Stonewall and yet there are still people who aren’t clear on why allyship, Pride Month, and LGBTIQ+ D&I initiatives are important. From your perspective, can you explain why we should continue to have conversations about LGBTIQ equality?
I’ve already touched on this, but it bears repeating: it is all about normalising the conversation. The criminalisation of homosexuality in many countries is still in living memory or is even the ongoing reality. In fact, homosexuality was listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1973. It was only in 1999 that the Admiral Duncan, a well-known gay club in London, was bombed. Homophobia is very much still alive in society and that includes the workplace. The normalisation of heterosexual experiences can make a lot of discriminatory biases easy to overlook unless you have experienced it yourself, so be an ally. Join the conversation. Challenge the language you hear. Let’s make sure that the next time a young professional woman shows up at the work Christmas party with her girlfriend, they are treated equally.
As Kubrick's Alumni Community Manager, Charlotte works to build and strengthen our network of Kubrick Alumni and in turn create connections across all our consultants - whether in training, on client engagements, or onto their next opportunity beyond Kubrick. She is a proud ally, advocate, and member of the LGBTQIA communities and helps to ensure Kubrick fosters a culture of inclusivity, support, and celebration of their colleagues from all backgrounds, experiences, and identities.
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