PRIDE in who we are

  • techUK techUK
    Thursday25Jun 2020

    Guest Blog: Zoe Rogers is a Sustainable Engineering graduate working in Costain’s Innovation Team, and Communications Officer for the LGBT+Allies employee network.

This month I have been reflecting on what Pride means. For me, Pride is the opposite of shame. Pride is recognising and celebrating achievements and qualities in yourself and others.

The LGBT+Allies network at Costain helps bring the business together every year to celebrate Pride month, but in this 2020 pandemic year we are approaching it from a different angle – from the lens of the global focus on the Black Lives Matter movement. Amidst the re-energised civil and human rights discussions, it feels relevant to remind people of the struggles many marginalised groups have faced in the past and still face now, highlighting the similarities and alignment between these groups.

This is all within the context of remembering to celebrate and own what makes us different. Celebrating what makes us different does not create division, it creates an opportunity for inclusivity – providing space to celebrate together.

The origins of Pride come from the Stonewall uprising in New York, which took place in the context of broader civil rights movements. The Revolutionary People's Constitutional Convention in 1970 was a key moment in which activists from Black Power, feminist and gay liberation movements came together, saw common cause and learned from each other.

Another historical example of this working together to drive change is the alliance between the UK miners and LGBT+ community. The miners’ strike of 1984-85 is a memorable period in our recent history, and seriously divided the nation at the time. The LGBT+ community wanted to offer allyship and support despite some miners having been persecutors of gay and lesbian people in the past, as they recognised a fellow community being systemically challenged. Fundraising to provide financial support for striking miners started at the London Pride parade and ended up being the single biggest donation to the miners’ cause. In return, the support of the National Union of Mineworkers encouraged the Labour Party to pass a resolution committing to support of LGBT rights.  A film based on the events, Pride, was released in 2014.

Each marginalised group faces their own discriminations but the outcome of this in the workplace can be very similar. Fewer promotion opportunities, unclear career progression, lack of role models and a feeling of exclusion to pinpoint a few. There is much intersectionality across networks, which is a great foundation for creating an inclusive environment and breaking through barriers. We know we should collaborate and support fellow colleagues in the challenges they may be facing in and out of the workplace.

This year we have been working closely with Stonewall using their Diversity Champions programme to improve the way we do things. The best practice, toolkits and resources have helped to make our policies LGBT+ inclusive, empower our senior leaders and support our LGBT+ staff to bring their whole selves to work and be at their best. So this year we want to encourage friends and colleagues across engineering and technology to recognise and celebrate: Be Proud of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity and to show people who you are. Be Proud to be a woman, of the challenges you have overcome. Be Proud of your race and ethnicity and of the richness of your culture. As allies, Be Proud of others and their diversity.

Inclusion is always something to be celebrated but this unique Pride 2020: reach out to others and Be Proud of who you are.

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