Raising LGBT+ visibility
Posting date:10/1/2020 4:04 PM
"A place to thrive and be true to who I am."
It's a complex time for the LGBT+ community. While there is plenty of progress to celebrate, there are still many issues to keep pressing for. In light of it all, we met up with Richard, Graduate Transport Planner in our Transportation business, to hear his perspective.
What are some of the most significant issues in the industry for the LGBT+ community?
Given everything that has happened in America and across the world over the past year, it's a very testing time, but that doesn't stop any of us from continuing to work towards greater equality and acceptance. I think allyship is more critical now than ever; it is not enough to sit back and let injustices and discrimination run their course. Role models are also vitally important. Lack of visibility has been an issue for me in the past; it motivates people when they know they have a platform and community that will help them excel in their professional and personal lives. As an industry, we need to be more proactive in encouraging diverse talent into our workforce, making sure they feel included, able to take advantage of opportunities and be their authentic selves.
What is work like from where you're sitting?
I've been at Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, for nearly three years. All this time, I've felt supported and welcomed by my colleagues. But navigating my sexuality in the workplace has not always been easy. While Atkins has a brilliant work culture with a real sense of community, particularly here in the Midlands, I often felt there was a lack of visibility for LGBT+ people.
My instinctive reaction was to hide away initially and not be my true self. However, constantly monitoring my behaviours, mannerisms and sometimes (questionable) dress sense didn't make me feel I could be myself and excel professionally.
Joining our EQUILIBRIUM network made me feel I'd found a space within Atkins, where I could break down those barriers and begin to feel much more natural and at ease. I've carried this confidence through to the office, and I'm happy to say I'm now truly comfortable in my surroundings! It has been a process, and I think it's essential for everyone to feel a sense of belonging and the ability to be themselves. While LGBT+ networks are important, at Atkins, everyone, regardless of sexuality, is enabled to help achieve a more inclusive workplace.
How is EQUILIBRIUM advancing workplace equality?
The network has developed a series of ally webinars that train staff on how to be strong allies to LGBT+ staff and others. It's imperative that the LGBT+ community is actively supported by allies to achieve a truly inclusive workplace and positively reinforce that culture. We hope that the webinars provide the right resources for all staff members. Our hope is colleagues will educate and empower themselves on LGBT+ issues. We want team members to challenge homophobia and provide constructive criticism for staff who may not necessarily realize the impact of their behaviour.
What other things can LGBT allies do?
Colleagues can show solidarity in different ways, from just wearing a rainbow lanyard to attending Pride parades to recruiting other allies. I'm so proud of my colleague Liam, who is demonstrating the significant impact allies can have! He organized several 'Diversity and Inclusion Roadshows.' He led Atkins to Manchester Pride in 2019, which puts out such a strong message that makes LGBT+ staff feel included. His example will hopefully encourage all colleagues to get involved. I hope we can organize more events and marches once the COVID-19 situation improves.
How did EQUILIBRIUM celebrate Pride 2020?
It was the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the birth of the gay rights movement! However, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to celebrate the occasion as we usually would. However, we shared a newsletter that discussed the history of Pride Month and how instrumental the BAME community were in the gay rights movement. We wanted to raise awareness of Atkins' BAME network while looking for opportunities to share resources and collaborate to achieve greater visibility and diversity in the workplace. I think intersectionality is key to making this happen!
Discover more ways our people are championing equality, diversity and inclusion at Atkins.
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