It’s LGBT History Month, a great time to look at LGBT inclusion in engineering and how we can make things better. Here are some ideas on how you can raise the profile of LGBT issues in your organisation:
Accept the facts
Although your organisation may be making all the right noises about diversity and inclusion, a recent survey showed that more than half of LGBT engineers don’t feel comfortable being out in the workplace, and only 40% have other openly-LGBT colleagues. Also, keep in mind that engineers don’t work in isolation; we work as part of a wider delivery team and have to spend time in client offices or on site where it may not be so comfortable. Discussing these facts openly will encourage people to feel secure speaking out about problems if they need to.
Focus on role models
Key to improving inclusion is to highlight positive role models. LGBT employees benefit from knowing there are others with similar backgrounds who are establishing successful careers in the industry, while non-LGBT staff become more aware of minority experiences. Last year LGBT advocacy group InterEngineering launched ‘What’s it Like?’, a video series focusing on 20 role models from across the profession; if you lack openly-LGBT role models in your organisation then share these videos within your organisation to get the conversation started.
Don’t forget the L, B, T, or others
Whether it’s politics, media or the entertainment business, gay men can often be the most prominent members of the LGBT community, so be sure that the work you do highlights role models from across the spectrum. And don’t forget other diversity strands within the LGBT community such as different backgrounds, ethnicities and age groups.
Make it fun
There’s the serious side of LGBT inclusion, such as rolling out unconscious bias training for senior staff or adapting company policies to be more inclusive of same-sex couples. But LGBT History Month is a good time to promote LGBT equalities by celebrating the achievements of the LGBT community. Why not organise an LGBT-themed quiz or a film screening? Alternatively, a lunch time talk focusing on the history of the UK’s LGBT community would be a great way to share stories while showing you take inclusion seriously.
Use all media channels
Events are great for getting people mingling, but there will always be those who can’t attend. Use your company’s intranet and any shared drives or social media to get the message out to others around your organisation, and build a library of diversity resources which are easily accessible by all, long after LGBT History Month has ended.