Pride this year
will be a celebration of all that has been achieved but also a show of support,
a chance to stand united with our LGBTQ+ family, for those that are still
fighting for the right to be themselves without prejudice.
On a more personal
level, Pride for me always feels really special. It’s the time of year
when I can be completely unapologetic for who I am - I get this overwhelming
feeling of pride at being part of such a unique community that has stood tall
for the right to love whoever they want to love, and I can go out there and
feel totally accepted. It’s a weird feeling to describe as I am accepted every
other day by the people in my life, but at Pride you just feel
so...well, so free.
Inclusivity should be forever, not just for Pride
It’s so important!
Unless you’ve had to do it, no-one can comprehend the anxiety and sometimes
frustration that can come with continuously having to come ‘out’ to the people
you meet. I am openly gay and most of the time I have no issue with talking
freely about my same-sex relationship, but it’s not always the case. I first
came ‘out’ at work within my first week (so long ago now!) but it’s not a
one-time experience – every new person that joins and every new client I meet
can bring up new situations for me to deal with and you just never know what
reaction you will receive.
Thankfully, so far
I haven’t had any bad reactions. They haven’t all been perfect; they’ll always be
‘those’ questions someone wants to ask. But they’ve never been bad; and while
day to day I know I’m fully accepted for who I am (in fact, the sex of the
person I’m dating is such a complete non-issue as it is for my straight
colleagues, which is one of the coolest things), it’s events like Pride week
that help remind everyone how amazing it is to have such fantastic allies in
our team. It also reminds everyone what a diverse workforce we are and how all
forms of diversity are fully accepted and celebrated here.
As I said, I
didn’t stop coming out after the first time I told someone I’m gay.
Celebrating Pride goes beyond a one-week event, it should be part of the fabric
of truly inclusive companies, as all diversity topics should be.
Companies are doing more and more to encourage diversity and inclusion
There’s still more
to be done. Whilst there will always be prejudice in the world, I really think
those entering the workplace within the next few years are going to challenge
employers like never before, and diversity will be one of the areas they do it
in. The events Merkle have done this year have been fantastic and having an
employer that invests time and resources into the issues that matter to their
employees gives such a positive feeling.
Apple has recently
appointed Denise Young Smith as the Global Head of Human Resources to focus on
diversity across the workplace, hiring practices, and other HR-related business
aspects to be more open to and conscious of women, minorities, and the LGBTQ
community. Like many tech companies, its workforce is predominantly white and
male — Apple's latest diversity report indicates that the company’s workforce
is 68 percent male and 56 percent white (only 12 percent of the workforce
identified as Hispanic and nine percent as Black). But Tim Cook is the only
openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, so naturally, he’s a particularly strong
champion of workforce diversity.
Meanwhile, Deloitte has introduced ‘Diversity Networks’ across a number of minority groups. There are ten groups in total which connect people who share affinity indicators such as gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, parenting or caring responsibilities.
Diversity is a topical issue for all companies, big or small. It’s important to encourage everyone in workplaces to feel like they can be whoever they want to be.
This week we’ve celebrated Pride at Merkle which has been fantastic. We are by no means perfect, but the efforts being made this Pride week are just the start of wider discussions on diversity and working towards being a fully inclusive employer. Having visible events and celebrations within the office is great as it shows unity and determination to build an inclusive and diverse workplace. Whilst it isn’t always going to be a smooth ride, I’m glad to see society take strides towards embracing an array of identities; I’m proud to be a gay woman.
Photo credit: Peter Hershey