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PRIDE 2022: we can’t all be activists, but we can choose to be allies…

In today’s globalised, interconnected world that we live in, diversity, inclusion & unity should be seen as hallmarks of strength, not weaknesses as some would have us believe.

Just look at the good the United Nations has done since it was founded in 1945; the way that countries & communities came together during the pandemic; or the benefits international trade has brought billions of people around the globe.

As diversity, equity & inclusion initiatives gather momentum in the corporate environment, it’s important that during PRIDE month (as well as throughout the year) as allies, we don’t just ‘say’ we support the LGBTQ community in the workplace (& outside of it), but we also really stand up & ‘support’ it in our actions.

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The business benefits of diverse workforces are proven. Consulting firm McKinsey released a study in late 2020 that found companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. The firm also found that the greater the general representation, the higher the likelihood of an organisation outperforming the market.

While there is clearly a business case for diversity, more importantly, it matters because it’s the egalitarian, morally correct thing to do too.

American politician and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Harvey Milk commented:

“It takes no compromise to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”

Just imagine for a moment, not being able to bring your authentic self to the workplace, or having to continually pretend to fit in to an environment just to keep your job. Imagine not being able to use the same buses or schools because of your skin colour, or not being considered for positions or promotions because of who you love.

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Until recently these were all challenges that people of colour & those in the LGBTQ community had to manage on a daily basis — sadly, in some places around the world, they still do, even today.

As more & more companies offer remote & hybrid work opportunities following the pandemic, there’s a chance like never before to increase diversity & inclusion of underrepresented groups (like the LGBTQ community) at all levels within companies, like never before — & that can only be a good thing from whatever perspective (economic or moral) you choose to look at it.

American actor George Takei, famous for his role as Mr. Solo in Star Trek, once said:

“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference & live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”

I particularly like this quote because it focuses on the beauty of diversity, rather than the divisiveness & fear of the ‘other’ or that which is different.

As part of PRIDE month 2022 & throughout the year, our role as allies to the LGBTQ community (& indeed all marginalised groups in our workplaces & societies) must be to stand up & make our voices of encouragement felt with tangible acts of support.

2022 is the time for more people to stop ‘saying’ & start ‘supporting’ the LGBTQ community more actively by helping create environments that feel not only safe, but environments that also value the diversity of the entire spectrum of human experience.

After all, life in technicolour is so much more satisfying & fulfilling than a life lived simply in black & white!

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James Canham-Ash

James Canham-Ash

Communicator, sportsman, history-lover, enthusiastic world citizen, political onlooker & aspiring BBC WS presenter, not always in that order — TMO.