5 ways to support LGBTQ+ colleagues

Toby Mildon, Diversity & Inclusion Architect at Mildon, shared his insights into enabling LGBTQ+ individuals to thrive at the recent digital Inclusion Festival.

Toby has just released his second book, Building Inclusivity, which reached number one in the Business Diversity & Inclusion category on Amazon.

At the Festival Toby was  joined by Sarah Cosgriff, Asexual Activist; Eboné Bell, Keynote Speaker and Facilitator specialising in DEI, Allyship, and LGBTQ+ advocacy; and Star Peterson, DEI Trainer, Stellar Diversity Training. Here, they share five ways to support LGBTQ+ colleagues at work. 

1 Foster allyship

“Asexual people are less likely to be out at work. This is for a number of reasons including because some people don’t want to keep explaining their identity. I almost have to have a TedTalk ready when I come out to somebody! I’m OK with doing this, and answering all the questions that come up, but not everybody is.

“I encourage everyone to look at the 2023 research by Stonewall into asexuality so that you are informed about it.”

Sarah Cosgriff, Asexual Activist

Stonewall Ace in the UK report: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/system/files/ace_in_the_uk_report_2023.pdf

2 Normalise the conversation

“You need to tell people you are building a safe space for them to work in. It could be small but really significant things. For example, at one company I worked at we had double-sided ID passes so that if an individual was gender fluid, they could have two pictures on their badge. Other things could be gender-neutral toilets, an ERG for the LGBTQ+ community, and a re-worked family policy with inclusive language to make sure you are talking about different sorts of families when it comes to parental leave and other rights at your workplace.”

Toby Mildon, Diversity & Inclusion Architect at Mildon

3 Reinforce the message

“When I go out to organisations, I repeatedly get asked why is there Pride? Why are we using pronouns? It could be pushback – and that’s ok, that’s why we are here to have these conversations. But some folks need the basics. Training is essential to get people past the starting line: a lot of people want to start the race but don’t know how to get over the line.

“I live for those ‘a-ha moments’ when people realise this is where they can make a difference to making sure that everyone feels seen, heard and respected. Make sure that’s the one thing you do for someone else. It will make a difference.”

Eboné Bell, Keynote Speaker and Facilitator specialising in DEI, Allyship, and LGBTQ+ advocacy

4 Enforce consequences

“Everyone is allowed their own opinion. But there’s a difference between expressing your opinion and harassment.

“I left a job after trying to make it work for six months because my boss was extremely homophobic. She had been to diversity training and gender training but continued to harass me. When it came down to it, the HR department said she hadn’t done anything illegal so they couldn’t respond to her discriminatory behaviour. So I had to leave.

“Consequences speak powerfully – consider enforcing consequences for discriminatory behaviour in your organisation.”

5 Don’t forget intersectionality

“There’s a lack of understanding of intersectionality. Disabled people are often perceived as not having a sexuality or not being capable of having a loving and romantic relationship.

“A lot of times people think my partner is my carer.”

Toby Mildon, Diversity & Inclusion Architect at Mildon

In Toby’s book, Building Inclusivity, he explains with practical advice how to foster awareness and normalise equity, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, how to engage leadership teams to align EDI initiatives for your organisation and navigating the complexities of long-term cultural-change strategies.

Click here to find out more and access the session on-demand: https://diversity-network.com/inclusion-registration/

You can buy Building Inclusivity here: https://amzn.eu/d/1IJKIf7

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