Advancing inclusion and fostering allyship at work: reflections on IDAHOBIT
As we celebrate IDAHOBIT, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia & Transphobia, I reflect on what steps can be taken for greater equality and inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community in companies.
We spend a significant amount of our time at work; hence, it is important that our work environment is physically and psychologically safe. For the LGBTQ+ community, this means it needs to be a place where we can bring our full selves to and feel appreciated for the work we do, without any fear of being discriminated against for who we are. Companies can also play a vital role in providing a safe environment within the “company walls” for employees in countries where the LGBTQ+ community doesn’t have equal rights and freedoms yet.
I am proud that at UCB, fostering a sense of belonging is a key element of our culture. One way we enable an inclusive work environment is by involving employees directly through employee Resource Groups (ERGs). UCB+ is our LGBTQ+ ERG and it aims to contribute towards an open, inclusive and safe environment for the LGBTQ+ community and allies in the company, where everyone feels equal and valued regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
In addition to having a supportive culture, it is important to have courageous and authentic leaders who will commit to fostering a more inclusive environment at work. At UCB, we see this strong support in different forms, including an Executive Committee member sponsoring the activities of UCB+. This is particularly important as the ERG is a grassroot initiative, so having the support of an Executive Committee member is a very clear and visible sign to the LGBTQ+ community that they are valued and appreciated.
Another way to provide an inclusive environment is by showing support to the LGBTQ+ workforce and allying with them. UCB+ is open to all, including allies of the LGBTQ+ cause who want to contribute, support or simply learn more about our community. Allies have a unique responsibility and an opportunity to create inclusive environments for their LGBTQ+ peers, by educating themselves and others, speaking up against discrimination, and supporting LGBTQ+ organisations and events. And we, the LGBTQ+ community, have a responsibility to guide the allies supporting us, for example by helping them understand what language to use in order not to be discriminatory.
The theme of this year's IDAHOBIT is "Together always: united in diversity", which reminds us of the importance of inclusivity and sense of belonging in all aspects of our lives. Companies can provide the space for individual and collective efforts that can ultimately lead to the positive change we want to bring into society.