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To the casual observer, it may seem that workplace discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community is a thing of the past. There are laws against discrimination meaning that organisations are working to become more inclusive and diverse. However, research overwhelmingly shows there is still work to be done.
A study by LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall revealed that more than a third of LGBT staff have hidden their sexuality at work for fear of discrimination and almost one in five LGBTQ+ employees have been the target of negative comments or conduct from work colleagues because of how they identify. This is problematic for businesses, with the potential to negatively impact reputation, stifle innovation and decrease retention of talent if employees feel excluded within an organisation.
Education and collaboration are powerful tools for change. Last week, Grosvenor Property UK brought together employees, suppliers and occupiers to attend our event, ‘Colouring Outside the Lines’, to shed light on the importance of inclusivity. Acknowledging we all have a part to play in making workplaces more inclusive for everyone regardless of background, sexuality, disability, ethnicity or gender, our aim was to spark discussions and share practical actions to help drive progress.
Jamie Whitty-Lewis, Group Reporting Director at Grosvenor and lead of Grosvenor’s Disability Network, shared his experiences of diversity and inclusion. He spoke openly about challenges he has faced throughout his career, both around culture and LGBTQ+ acceptance, as well as how he navigated life after a life-changing injury.
Talycia Nayee, Training and Inclusion Manager at the South-East based LGBTQ+ charity Switchboard, a Queer, South Asian woman, spoke about her experience in breaking barriers in the non-profit sector and how she supports organisations to embed a culture that celebrates individuality, growth and expression. Talycia kicked off with a quiz which highlighted just how much progress we have yet to make.
After our speakers, we were heartened to have created a welcoming and safe space for attendees to network and ask questions. One attendee commented that this was a “great opportunity for small businesses to connect and benefit from learning like this. Also, the potential to access Grosvenor networks as this is not something small businesses can build themselves. I am in a standalone HR role in a small charity and really value these opportunities to join other groups for educational events and networking.”
See some of the practical actions and tips that were shared during the session below:
During networking, we encouraged attendees to reflect on what they had learned and how they planned to make their workplaces more inclusive. These learnings took the form of a pledge and below highlights some of the contributions:
"It’s our job and responsibility to be curious. Be a bit brave and don’t be afraid of messing up with terminology."
"We will be happy to introduce the demographic form and start supporting various LGBT+ charities."
"Be kind to yourself and others. Be curious, ask questions. Embrace differences. #happierpartners #happiercustomers #happierworld"
"Look at creating pronouns on email signatures and LinkedIn."
"I pledge to lead a Diversity & Inclusion group focusing on LGBTQ+ in my company."
"Being open and comfortable about gender, sexuality and not be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions, and don’t be afraid to have an open conversation."
"Continue to support and promote positive advocacy for mental health in the workplace, to always have each other’s back and to remember kindness costs nothing!"
A big thank you to Stretching the City, our speakers, event staff and our attendees for making the event such a success!