As Pride celebrations take place around the world, this year many in the LGBT+ community are standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Stonewall protests, after all, were a fight back against the prejudice and violence directed at the LGBT+ community and a direct response to police brutality.
The Black LGBTQ+ community has had a fundamental impact on the progression of LGBT+ rights. From Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, who led the Stonewall protests to Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement who is open about her queerness, to Lady Phyll, the founder of Black Pride. These are just a few examples of people who, by being themselves, have been able to have a significant impact and create spaces for LGBTQ+ people to feel safe.
There is much more still to be done as the inequalities that we see throughout society and the unequal representation of minority groups in positions of power show us. Jessica Franklin, Melissa Yambila and Sarah Appiah are the employee network leads representing the LGBT+ and BAME communities at FDM Group. They have put together their thoughts on what they feel employers could do to help shift the dial and foster a true culture of inclusivity.
More than ever it is time for the people at the top to start by simply listening. After the initial Black Lives Matter protests, the LEAD network at FDM organised a virtual webinar to explain the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement. It also provided black employees the opportunity to voice their daily experiences and communicate their story. Hundreds of employees tuned in to what was a very moving and empowering event and it gave those in the LEAD network a chance to really be heard.
Do not be silent
In the workplace it is often the microaggressions that affect people the most. For LGBT+ people it is common to hear phases like ‘well you don’t look gay’ or ‘you are pretty for a lesbian’. When we hear something like this, whether as a LGBT+ person or as an ally, we need to speak out.
Many organisations have employee network groups for protected characteristics. These groups can play a bigger role in making sure diverse voices are reflected in an organisation’s decisions and strategy, which will lead to a more authentic output as well as a better sense of inclusivity for employees. We need to see the world around us reflected in the environment in which we work, so representation is key.
As minority groups, we often have to educate others on the fundamental reason we deserve the rights we are fighting for. This can be burdensome and have a negative impact on our mental health, therefore it is so important for businesses to take an active interest in its employees and their experiences. There is so much accessible content out there that people can use to educate themselves to help foster not only a diverse community but an inclusive one.
Below is a list of resources to look into:
13th – Netflix original
The Hate You Give – Available online
When They See Us – Netflix Original
The Life and Death of Marsha P Johnson – Netflix – Dir David France
Pose – Netflix – Dir Ryan Murphy
Intersectionality Matters! Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
Seeing White Podcast
Nancy – WNYC Productions
A Gay and Non Gay – James Barr and Dan Hudson
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
Divided Sisters by Midge Wilson and Kathy Russel
Locking Up Our Own by James Forman
Sister Outside – Audre Lorde
How to Survive a Plague – David France
About the authors
Jessica Franklin is a senior recruiter for the FDM graduate programme and the head of FDM’s Pride network which brings together the LGBT+ community. As a member of the community herself she is passionate about promoting inclusivity and championing for equality.
Melissa Yambila is a People Partnering Assistant and Sarah Appiah is a People Operations Assistant working in the People Team at FDM Group. They are both committee members of the LEAD Network which stands for Leading, Educating and Aspiring Diversity, and aims to connect and build a community for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minorities within FDM. They help promote a work environment in which all staff feel supported and valued regardless of their ethnicity or race.