Force only controls how people act
In preparation for this blog, I viewed the recent assault on young LGBT+ people by the police in Istanbul. A shameful display of the use of force to try to prevent people being authentic. Once you accept the reality that being trans+ is simply an aspect of human diversity you realise that there is no box you can force it back into. All you can do is try to control how people act, you cannot change who they are.
Shame never changed anyone’s mind
This a quote most often used by trainers looking to empower LGBT+ people and their allies to develop understanding in the wider world. We know that if you shout at someone you just invoke the unthinking fight/flight/freeze response. Bypassing the higher thought processes.
As trainers we need to engage with our audiences, those who are already our allies and those who are ready to become allies. We can never know what is going on in their lives, in their minds. What brought them to this place. All we can know is that they are here, present, with us and this is our chance to empower them.
Pride is many things. A corporate beast, a celebration, and an opportunity for protest. Pride raises the lid on the abuse and assault experienced by LGBT+ people around the world. Yet Pride is also the place to showcase positive change. A place for corporates to show colleagues they respect them.
I have spoken before about how I strongly believe that corporates have a place at Pride. Today I want to look at what more corporates can do to embed that Pride feeling all year round.
At a meeting with Kingfisher group last week I was asked to advise on how colleagues could assure their trans colleagues that they were welcome to bring their whole self to work. A question like that always gets me thinking. Thinking about the people and thinking about the power each of us has to affect the world.
Corporates have power. When I deliver training, I am usually talking to individuals, finding the words to empower them to understand the experience of being gender diverse. This time I needed to think larger. I needed to think like a corporate.
Last week was also the week of the MyGWork conference. Here I was meeting with, and listening to, executives. Powerful people with Pride. People who are making changes in policy and thought. Internationally and locally. I even met the creator of the white Skittles campaign!
Executive sponsors for cultural change
At every diversity and inclusion event I attend I hear the same advice: ensure you have an executive sponsor. Change needs to be embedded in culture. Change needs to be from the top.
This is the power of the corporate. The power of the top to change the world for all.
How can Kingfisher ensure that trans colleagues feel empowered to be their authentic selves at work? By showing that they as a group embrace all the passion and learning for inclusion.
A Pride flag on the shop floor; a transition at work policy; pronouns on email signatures and colleague badges. These are good but there is so much more that can be done.
Diversity, inclusion and belonging in everything
Trans inclusion needs to be embedded in all policy. The procurement and tendering process should include a requirement by the supplier to report on their efforts to improve inclusion. Every process audit should look at bullying and harassment.
Think about if your trans colleagues must travel to Poland, or Turkey? What protections are in place to ensure their physical and mental safety? Are you making it clear to your subsidiaries that you will tolerate no mistreatment of your staff?
If you have a media presence are your moderators empowered to deal with trans and homophobic comments? Have you a clear policy that delineates between free speech and abuse of those of diverse experiences?
An embassy is not enough
The embassy model expounded by Microsoft and others ensures that LGBT+ people are safe to be authentic within the compound despite the laws and prejudices of the wider country, but what about their mental wellbeing? Have you considered the constant strain living under threat of violence brings?
Make all spaces safe
When I started this blog, I did not just view the BBC article about the police treatment of those young LGBT+ people in Istanbul. I viewed the comments. They were horrible. I read statements that the police were right, that LGBT+ oppression is God’s law, assertions that the young people deserved being abused by men with guns and uniforms.
Corporate leverage can do much more than just create a safe LGBT+ community within the organisation.
Find your power
Every person reading this can help. You all have the power. Use that comment function to challenge the clothing site which only allows male/female options for sign up. Message the council to ask them to include Mx (the gender-neutral title) on their options. Proudly use your labels, affirm your gender identity through your pronouns and the use of terms like cis gender.
Get Fit for Chrysalis
One last request. Each one of you can make our worlds better this summer. Come and join us to Get Fit for Chrysalis. Lockdown has isolated us, affected our shapes and our mental wellbeing. This summer we are asking you to help us reach our 2k target. We are raising funds and counting miles. Every pound raised will go directly into funding Chrysalis. Helping us help our members to find their own authenticity and strength to go out and change their worlds. We know that no matter how bad the world is trans people will still need to find their truth and to transition. Chrysalis will always be here for them, while all of you go out there and change the world.