Not long after starting at Business West, I remember attending an all staff meeting where my colleague, Phil Bridgeman spoke about his experiences of being a queer person, coming out, and bringing his full self to work.
I watched the chat box buzz as our colleagues held this vulnerability, and I felt a real sense of belonging within this organisation; it was just part of what we do here, creating a culture of openness, trust and safety for our people. Nobody shouted about it, the management team didn’t need a pat on the back for doing what should be the very basics of creating safety for us as staff, to be happy, whole and productive at work.
A few months later, I was talking informally with colleagues about LGBTQ+ inclusive events happening across the region, and the topic of Pride came up.
“What do we do for Pride?” I asked one of the Senior Team.
“What would you like to do for Pride?” was the response that came.
“Wonderful, I’ll ask around and see what people say”… and with that I called Phil.
Together with colleagues we set-up the LGBTQ+ network, an internal community for LGBTQ+ people and allies to connect, learn and share. We were also invited to discuss and encourage company-wide conversation as part of our monthly EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity) in conversation forums.
We have been encouraged to do Pride our way, individuals turning up as ourselves, for ourselves with the support of our employer. As a business membership organisation which aims to make the West of England the best place to live and work, internally, they have demonstrated this by listening, holding space and enabling us, with enthusiasm.
Externally, I’d like to see us using our status in the region to influence and support our membership to become more inclusive employers too. That’s the bigger goal, and we’ll start by being present, visible and committing to continue to campaign for better.
On Saturday 9th July, myself and Business West colleagues marched through the city, celebrating 50 years since the first Pride march in the UK, grateful to those who paved the way for our privileges while recognising the work that we still need to do.