As part of LGBT+ History month one of our Student Careers Ambassadors – Keji attended our LGBT+ Careers Panel event which was supported by SU LGBT+ Diversity and Support Group. In part 2 of this blog we look at advice from the panel members on:
- How to come out in the workplace,
- How to deal with any issues that may arise in the workplace related to being LGBT+
- How to be a good ally
Earlier in February we were lucky enough to have an incredible virtual LGBT+ event organised as part of LGBT+ History month which was supported by the SU LGBT+ Student Group. We heard from some alumni and speakers who discussed being LGBT in the workplace. The key topics that were discussed were:
Coming Out – Different Approaches
Harry Roberts who is the deputy chair of the EDF Energy’s LGBT network spoke about how he came out as a trans man in 2016 and chose to do so by writing a letter and giving it to his branch manager. This started a conversation around his identity and the branch manager relayed this onto HR and steps were taken to support him following his coming out. He decided to come out face to face to his immediate team which went smoothly, and he wrote a letter to be sent out to the wider company. Harry expressed that this was daunting but something that he felt was important to do, due to the importance of visibility. After he came out, he said he received an immense amount of support and acceptance.
Emily Senft, after blessing attendees with photos of her beautiful cats, also discussed coming out, and stated that in her opinion coming out casually was the best way to do it. When she came out spontaneously during a pub quiz, she says that her co-workers were “chill with it”. This was a useful point as it demonstrated that there isn’t one correct way to come out in the workplace and the best way to do it is however feels safe and comfortable for you. She also highlighted that coming out in the workplace is a never-ending process, like outside of the workplace, so in each instance different methods may be used. Whether you come out via a letter, a formal sit-down with someone or casually in a conversation, the most important thing is doing what you feel is best for you.
Dealing with Challenges
Emily also spoke about her experience of disclosure as a queer, transgender woman and being out in the workplace. She spoke honestly and frankly about some of the issues that she has faced with this, including some recruitment agencies doctoring her CV to hide that she is trans. Her suggestion to avoid this was to ensure that you submit your CV and documents as PDFs to reduce the possibility of this happening. Hearing Emily speak about this made it clear that though there has been progress for the LGBT+ community, there are still some problems that remain. Though she chooses to disclose her identity, she expressed that the effect of this can sometimes be confusing as a member of the LGBT community, as you wonder if you’ve been hired just for diversity purposes. However, she doesn’t say this to discourage people from disclosing their sexuality or gender identity – she highlights the importance of visibility.
Nityasha Pillai, who spoke about her experience as a gay Malaysian woman in the workplace, emphasised the importance of intersectionality and touched on the important of visibility and coming out, if comfortable. She mentioned how she was advised by some people in her personal life not to come out in the workplace due to fears that it would be used against her, but she decided that she wanted to be out and visible at her work, Accenture. The topic of the importance of allyship was broached when she spoke about how she felt reassured by colleagues wearing LGBT+ ally lanyards which made her feel more comfortable to come out. Often in conversations around being LGBT+ in the workplace, people outside the LGBT+ community wonder how they can be strong allies to their LGBT+ colleagues.
How to be A Good Ally
Both Emily and Harry mentioned how something as small as putting your pronouns in your email header or bio has an important impact, as it helps to normalise people having preferred pronouns.
To find out more about being an ally see 5 Simple steps to supporting LGBT+ communities blog
If you are a member of staff and would like to undertake some allyship training, Kaleidoscope has a free training programme that you can find here online ally training from Kaleidoscope
Though, the speakers portrayed mostly positive experiences of being LGBT+ in the workplace, it is important to note that harassment and bullying is something that is still a problem in the workplace for LGBT+ people. All the speakers really emphasised the importance of reporting any issues of bullying or harassment to a mentor, manager, or HR as they can support you and escalate any issues to the appropriate person.
If you missed our first LGBT+ blog Part 1 on How to find LGBT friendly places to work – you can find it here
A final word from Emma Sargeant – Applied Social Studies Year 3 and Internal Co-ordinator, LGBT+ Diversity and Support Group. “The Careers LBT+ Panel event was a great event, and it was great to hear from the speakers about their experiences of coming out and disclosing in the workplace. I'm sure our members certainly found it helpful as well. We look forward to working with the Careers Service on future events to support our members.”
Further information and Support at the University
To book a Careers Appointment please go to myfuture.bath.ac.uk
To discuss any concern you may have on coming out or about entering work you can also contact the Wellbeing Team in Student Services 01225 383838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have further questions for the LGBT+ Staff Society please email Thomas Williams at email@example.com
Stonewall Top 100 Employers https://www.stonewall.org.uk/our-work/campaigns/top-100-employers-2020