MAKING PROGRESS THIS PRIDE MONTH
The last fourteen months have been odd ones, really. A precise blend of staying exactly still and yet, at the same time, we’ve seen a level of change on a global scale, as we all adapted to what has been, for many, the strangest time in living history.
It’s this kind of dichotomy that’s had me reflecting on what it is to live and work as a minority. Change seems to be a constant thing, as we work hard on improving our own situations as well as other members of our community. But at the same time, it seems that there is always so much more to be done that the work can at times feel futile.
This last year at Abel & Cole, we’ve seen real moments of glorious change. We appointed our first ever LGBTQ+ Champ, (me!) who stands as a go-to colleague for any issues to do with sexuality or gender divergency at work and who can be trusted to provide information and support confidently and confidentially.
We’re currently planning on the instalment of gender-neutral toilets as extra facilities in all buildings at Abel & Cole. We’ve also taken time to thoroughly plan how to celebrate important months for the LGBTQ+ community including LGBTQ+ history month in February and Pride month this June. In essence, we’ve worked hard to encourage active, actual change internally in order to make the workplace as inclusive as possible and a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community.
One particular piece of work from last year struck a personal note for me. In September 2020 we introduced and encouraged members of staff to display their pronouns in the footers of their emails. It’s a simple thing, to place ‘my pronouns are: (he/him, she/her, they/them)’ in your email signature, but it shows to others that you won’t assume their gender and that you would like to know how best to refer to them.
This might seem like a small change but seeing so many colleagues share their pronouns gave me the confidence to come out as non-binary in the workplace, something I’ve never felt comfortable enough to do before. Now the pronouns in my email signature proudly read as they/them.
But such change comes with the awareness of how much still needs to be done, both in and out of the office, and I believe the most effective way to see real change is to focus on lifting up the most vulnerable in our community. This is why we’re so proud to say that for Pride this year, we’re raising money for a charity called Gendered Intelligence (5p from every sale of Strawberries through the month of June!), chosen by the Abel & Cole LGBTQ+ community. The charity do incredible work improving understanding of gender diversity and who actively improve and protect the lives of transgender people.
I’m not sure if there ever will be a point where any business is fully equipped to ensure that each and every colleague is supported completely. But I am confident that by taking the time to listen to one another, and having open, frank, honest discussions about how a workplace can change and grow to support the people that it hires, we will continue to do great work. James.