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For National Inclusion Week, the NCVO Rainbow Network shares their thoughts on how to provide opportunities for making organisations more inclusive for the LGBTQIA+ community.
This summer, to mark Pride 2023, we kicked off a series of five talks for our staff at NCVO, building on the success of last year’s Pride Summer Series.
Hosted by members of the network, they created safe spaces to learn and share about key issues in the community. While Pride month is a fitting time to hold these important conversations, Pride is not only for June. Celebrating and bringing awareness to LGBTQIA+ issues is something that should be part of everything we do, all year round.
At NCVO, we have a responsibility to our members, staff and partners to make sure that we fly the flag for Pride conversations, and to create the opportunities needed for conversations to happen – whether that’s through social media, our internal events or in our practical support work.
The importance of actively holding these spaces – and giving people the opportunity to celebrate Pride in a safe, affirming atmosphere – can't be underestimated.
Here we share some of our key takeaways from the 2023 Pride Summer Series.
We all strive to secure a better future of inclusion for the LGBTQIA+ community – especially within the workplace. But sometimes it’s easy to overlook the importance of understanding the past.
The history of our community is rich, complicated, and nuanced. Past events help to provide the answers to why we are where we are today.
Progress is possible, but only through claiming and learning from our history. We do this by acknowledging the brave individuals and change-makers who have come before us.
Helping staff and volunteers in your organisation understand the historical struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community is an important way to build the foundations of understanding and compassion.
There are LGBTQIA+ people at all levels of an organisation. Leaders need to understand how to make sure their peers and team members feel seen, understood, represented and safe.
For those leaders who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s important to figure out how you can share your identity if you feel able to.
This helps those inside the organisation to feel seen, represented and welcomed. By using your voice to create safe spaces for people in the organisation, others may feel more able to share aspects of their own identity too if they wish to.
Those leaders who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community also have a key role in demonstrating allyship. This is about making sure decisions are made in consultation with members of the community or by engaging people from the community, where relevant.
By doing this, it ensures the organisation is reflective of the communities they serve and that these communities feel supported.
Whether you're from the LGBTQIA+ community or not, being authentically true to yourself is powerful. When people in the workplace feel empowered to bring their authentic selves to work, it helps them to be the best they can be in their role, and the organisation will see the value of that too.
But not every person from the LGBTQIA+ community feels supported by their organisation to show up authentically. Creating a sense of belonging means not forcing people to adjust who they are to ‘fit in’.
It’s important that people feel safe and respected while at work. Some of the ways this can be done if individuals want to and feel comfortable:
These powerful truths are important for building open, honest and inclusive spaces which make teams stronger and more supportive.
Curiosity is always a good thing. Whether that’s in your personal life, about the world, or about the experiences of others.
When it comes to creating spaces for LGBTQIA+ conversations, making sure that we harness our natural curiosity is important. Not only because there isn’t a single one of us who knows everything, but because being inclusive is not a destination.
It's a lifelong journey and part of our day-to-day culture. To maintain that culture, we need to continuously listen and learn.
As our community’s future grows and changes, and how we experience the world around us evolves, it’s important that organisations adopt a constant learning approach. This makes sure their attitudes and understanding are reflective of the lived reality of LGBTQIA+ communities.
It's also important to recognise the need for learning to be led by the LGBTQIA+ community, without being reliant on them to drive change. That's where networks come in...
Creating staff-led networks within your organisation is a good way for like-minded people to come together around an issue or community that needs advocacy.
They help strengthen the agenda for the organisation so that it devotes time and resources to supporting specific groups to be seen and heard.
At NCVO, we have a number of different staff networks – including our Rainbow Network. They are a great way to help people feel accepted and welcomed at work and the existence of these sorts of networks genuinely contributes to job satisfaction.
For communities who can often feel marginalised in aspects of their lives, networks provide an opportunity to come together, share, learn and inspire.
They also have the added benefit of motivating staff to want to do good work for an organisation that does good for their community too.
We hope this has been helpful, and if you need any support or advice on making your organisation more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ staff and volunteers, please feel free to reach out to email@example.com and we can share more of our knowledge and learning!
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