Prioritising equality, diversity and inclusion

Mark Fletcher, CEO for Manchester Pride, on how businesses can support their LGBTQ+ colleagues

Mark Fletcher

The pandemic has meant a tough couple of years for many marginalised people.

Just last week Greater Manchester Police reported an increase in LGBTQ+ hate crimes for the third year in a row.

This is a very worrying trend and a harsh indication that LGBTQ+ people face a threat of potential violence for just being who we are. These statistics further highlight the vital role businesses can play in supporting their LGBTQ+ colleagues and educating their whole workforce.

Research that Manchester Pride conducted back in 2019 told us that a third of LGBTQ+ employees have hidden their LGBTQ+ status at work for fear of discrimination. We’ve seen first hand that people not being able to bring their full selves to work can affect mental health, which can have a knock on effect on their output.

Providing a space where LGBTQ+ people feel safe and seen allows those people to not only reach their full potential, but thrive.

In simplest terms, equality is about fairness and ensuring everyone has the same access to opportunities, diversity is about the range of identities represented in your workplace, and inclusion has to do with how we ensure everyone feels valued in your business or organisation.

Prioritising LGBTQ+ people isn’t just the right thing to do by your employees, but it’s also good for business.

In a competitive market where the number of job roles being advertised has reached an all time high, workplaces and their culture need to stand out to jobseekers. Furthermore, consumers are more likely to choose to do business with and pay a premium for products from a company which supports LGBTQ+ communities.

Manchester Pride

Employing a diverse workforce puts equality, diversity and inclusion into action. It addresses some of the systemic practices that can be embedded in workplaces through years of inequalities, which have hindered marginalised communities from accessing the same opportunities.

But businesses should seek not to treat everyone the same, but understand, meet and celebrate the differing needs and identities of other people’s experiences.

Manchester Pride’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager, Christopher Owen, suggests the following in order to ensure your business respects the purpose of the global queer liberation movement:

  • Ensure that neither your business or organisation, nor your subsidiaries and partners, contributes to any anti-LGBTQ+ initiatives anywhere in the world.
  • Celebrate LGBTQ+ people all year round, not just at the Pride Festival or during Pride month, and that this celebration involves direct action to support the LGBTQ+ community with their needs.
  • Do not use the Pride Festival just as a marketing or advertising opportunity, but rather as a way to celebrate and support your LGBTQ+ staff and the local LGBTQ+ community.
  • Don’t just celebrate LGBTQ+ people, but also celebrate queer expression, history and culture. Celebrate queerness, meaning the subversion of heteronormativity and cisnormativity, and implement this celebration in your work.

The police stats indicate an uplift in hate crime at the time when COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased and the night time economy reopened.

As people begin to meet and mix again and workforces gradually move back to working in offices, employers hold a vital role in educating their employees on the experiences and inequalities faced by others.

As businesses navigate their way forward out of the pandemic and adjust to new hybrid ways of working, I hope to see marginalised people being prioritised in policy making which enables LGBTQ+ people to thrive in the workplace.

For more information on how you can work towards a more equal world for LGBTQ+ people and be at the forefront of this change, please visit here.