June is Pride month. All around the country people will be out celebrating diversity at community events large and small. There will be glitter. There will be face paint. There will be brightly coloured feather boas (and that’s just in my house!). There will be flags. Progress pride flags. Trans pride flags. Bi pride flags. And a whole host of other bright, brilliant, celebratory flags brightening our streets and workplaces.
Pride at work is fundamental for me. Being able to be out as yourself at work is a given for lots of people now. It isn’t for everyone and certainly not in many countries. Unlike many of my queer contemporaries starting work in the mid-nineties, I was totally out in both my first two jobs after uni. Working as a society officer in the Students’ Union, then as a development officer for a local LGBT charity, being an out gay man wasn’t just okay, it was an advantage.
That changed when I moved to a bigger organisation. Some of the team there were supportive, or didn’t care. Others I was told not to tell if I wanted to ‘get on’. That meant constant vigilance. Checking and editing what I said as I was saying it. Watching how I acted. Hiding. And all that pretending took energy that I could have been channelling into my work. I found it massively draining and couldn’t sustain it for long. Ever since I’ve chosen the earliest appropriate opportunity to come out in any new environment.
Being able to be myself I’ve always seen as a strength. And when it came to setting up Stand, encouraging people to be their authentic selves at work was a cornerstone of our efforts to create a high-performance culture.
It’s there in our values under Stand at ease: “We know we’re at our best when we’re authentic. We’re kind and constructive. We don’t judge. We feel safe showing vulnerability. We’re proud of who we are.”
And in that statement we aim to share values aligned with those of Pride with everyone.
Caroline puts it brilliantly, “Pride at work is absolutely hard-wired into Stand’s values. When everyone feels safe being themselves, we’re better at supporting each other to do a great job and be happy at work and at home.”
We asked the team what pride at work means to them.
Gail said “Pride to me is about celebrating acceptance. We are all humans and deserve to be able to be comfortable and true to who we are.”
Sue told us that for her “Pride at work means that everyone I work with is equally special. We are not labels, we are each precious individuals.”
And Jonny told us that “Pride at work for me means being able to be my authentic self. As someone who is LGBTQ+, you find yourself ‘coming out’ every day – to new colleagues, to clients, to the patients and public that we talk to. Stand lives by its value of standing together – with my colleagues, I’m supported to be my authentic self at work, and celebrated for the diversity I bring. I couldn’t be more proud to belong to such a welcoming team.”
The impact of the Pride movement and the progress made over the years has been immense. Our aim at Stand is to pay that forward. Every day of the year.
When Gail asked her teenage son what Pride means to him, he said “It’s about not only accepting who you are but being happy to show it off.” We couldn’t agree more, Luke.
Happy Pride everyone!
Blog by: Paul Parsons
Photo by: Jonny Williams