Highlights from the Stonewall conference
Rachel Muller-Heyndyk, April 30, 2018
The 2018 Stonewall Workplace Conference focused on what employers can do to become true LGBT allies
We all have a duty in fighting transphobia
One in 12 (8%) trans people have been attacked by a customer or colleague at work within the past year, while half of trans and non-binary people feel they need to hide their identity at work, according to research from YouGov on behalf of Stonewall.
Speaking to HR magazine, Dawn Butler, shadow secretary for women and equalities, said that there has to be a policy in place to protect transgender people. “I’ve had trans people say to me ‘I never felt scared until recently, and now I feel scared’, and that’s something we should feel ashamed of in this country,” she said.
Butler has called on the government to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), the law that governs how trans people can have their gender identity legally recognised. The process currently involves a diagnosis of 'gender dysphoria', as well as a series of medical assessments and interviews. Theresa May pledged to reform the GRA in October 2017, but has yet to make the changes.
“We have to stop the misinformation about trans people. I blame the Gender Recognition Act, and I blame the government for the delay in making changes to the Gender Recognition Act," said Butler. "I think it’s cruel, and I think it’s calculated. They’ve allowed hate to boil over and for people to start getting things wrong.”
Stonewall research shows that 65% of people are concerned by the abuse trans people face. The organisation encouraged employers to join its trans allies programme to give employees a better understanding of transphobia. Thirteen organisations, including Lloyds, EY, and the House of Commons, are currently taking part.
Being an ally means paying attention to specific types of discrimination
Both inside and outside the LGBT community, developing a deeper understanding of identity is vital to ending discrimination, said executive director at Stonewall Darren Towers.
“We need to draw on the power of allies. It takes all of us to step up and be a bit better towards each other. In the workplace that means getting gay men to challenge sexism, it means getting lesbians to defend the rights of transwomen. It means everyone taking bisexuals a little bit more seriously,” he said.
Peter Holmes, director of commercial operations at Stonewall, told HR magazine that this means looking at the discrimination LGBT people face in depth. “The big thing for me is an intersectional approach," he said. "D&I needs to move towards looking in depth at these different identities. There’s a danger of ignoring characteristics, and just saying ‘we are inclusive’ – if you just say you’re inclusive of everyone you’re inclusive of no-one."
Don’t let diversity and inclusion become a buzzword
Krishna Omkar, Stonewall’s gay role model of the year, said that while there’s a business case for D&I, organisations shouldn’t need an incentive to do the right thing.
“Stop and ask yourself: what does D&I actually mean? It’s not just a buzzword used by businesses. It’s about freedom from fear of reprisal for being different, freedom from the loss of opportunity... I have another word for that: equality. And do you need a business case for equality? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, I’m saying do you really need a reason other than it’s the right thing?"
Building a genuinely inclusive workplace is hard, but organisations should work together
Acknowledging Stonewall’s journey to reaching the top 10 of the equality index, CEO Ruth Hunt said that organisations should work together to transform society.
“Every one of you who works for an organisation is not in isolation, you are part of a community in which you operate. If we can all work together, and find common cause, we can really start transforming society for LGBT people,” Hunt said.
“We know it’s hard, but for those of you who are starting the Workplace Equality Index we would say: do not be afraid, it is worth it. You can’t have a black year, then a gay year, then a disability year, then a gender year, and hope it all sticks; the only way you can do this is through a truly inclusive approach. Share your power, share your privilege. Stonewall is proud to help you with that work, and proud to be your partner.”