LGBT History Month 2022 and Supporting our LGBT+ Colleagues
by: Rachel Bennett MIOA and Simon Chandler-Wilde MIOA
Rachel Bennet. February is LGBT+ History month, the aim of which is to promote diversity and equality, increase visibility of the LGBT+ community and its history, and work to make educational and other institutions safe spaces for all LGBT+ communities.
I am an acoustic consultant at Ramboll UK, and an active member of the company’s LGBT+ Allies network. The network provides a platform for employees to work together and share ideas on ways of improving LGBTQ+ members’ visibility and wellbeing within the company and the wider construction industry. We have teamed up with Building Equality and Ramboll is a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
Many people may think, ‘oh, that’s nice- but is it really that important?’. The short answer is, yes! Here a just a sample of the results collected in recent Stonewall and Construction News surveys:
- 26% of lesbian, gay and bi staff across the UK are not out to anyone at work
- 41% of graduates go back into the closet when entering the workplace
- 1 in 5 LGB employees have experienced verbal bullying in the last 5 years
- 17% of LGB staff would not feel comfortable reporting homophobic bullying in the workplace
- 12% of trans employees have been physically attacked by a colleague or customer in the last year
Surely if you do not feel safe to simply be yourself in the workplace it will have a detrimental effect on your work, your professional relationships and your mental health. I believe it is important that everyone is made to feel welcome, and that everyone feels empowered to challenge inappropriate language or behaviour in the workplace.
Simon Chandler-Wilde. I’m an academic at the University of Reading where I’ve played a part, following a request from our LGBT+ Network, in starting our LGBT+ Allies Network and its associated training sessions – we had the last of these two weeks ago.
In these training sessions we encourage our allies to Be Visible, e.g. through the rainbow LBGT+/LGBT+ Ally Postcards that many of us post in our offices/office doors, to Be Informed about the LGBT+ community, e.g. through talks organised through the year, and, as Rachel reports above, to Not Be a Bystander, to feel empowered to challenge inappropriate language or behaviour.
As part of Being Informed, the University has worked with local Reading-based LGBT+ charity Support U to document LGBT+ history in Reading, which we’ve been promoting for LGBT+ History Month. To get a flavour of LGBT+ history, at least in the Reading area, you’re welcome to take our physical or virtual Walking Tour of Reading’s Queer Past, including Reading Gaol, where Oscar Wilde was the most famous prisoner.
As a practical tool to help challenge inappropriate behaviour, we teach the UHT method;
- “I UNDERSTAND why you said this and that you didn’t mean any harm.
- HOWEVER, this language/behaviour is not appropriate and is offensive.
- THEREFORE, I respectfully ask you not to do it.”
The IOA’s EDI Working Group. The IoA has set up an EDI Working Group in the last year, chaired by Angela Lamacraft, the IoA Council lead for EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion). The EDI WG is here to support all aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion across our membership, including the LGBT+ community and its allies, and are keen to hear at any time from members of the IOA.