By Will Murray
The current direction of diversity in the workplace has been extremely positive. From the large number of businesses at the countrywide Pride events, to the number of senior positions being held by those who identify as LGBT+, it could be said we are heading in the right direction.
However, it’s not all plain sailing, as a recent Stonewall survey found that “35 per cent of LGBT staff have hidden that they are LGBT at work for fear of discrimination.” This suggests that there is much more that needs to be done. When I was carrying out my research of graduate roles, one of the many factors I was looking for was how the company celebrated diversity. As an out gay man, I did not feel comfortable starting a career in a firm that did not support or promote diversity as it would feel like a step backwards.
Even so, when I was about to start my role at an incredibly inclusive firm, I did feel a little apprehensive, even when I had no reason to feel so. I was lucky to be joining an industry that celebrated diversity, so why did I feel this apprehension?
Stepping into the world of work, outside of the safe bubble of University, is a major life change in its own right and it is ever so easy to slip back “into the closet.”
I feel that therefore it is crucial for businesses to have a supportive and inclusive environment in the workplace for their employees not to fall back into themselves.
Diversity should be at the very heart of a company’s culture, not as an additional afterthought. Depending on the size of the company, creating societies or committees will allow for employees to feel more at ease, and meet other LGBT+ who are working at the company. If they are attending Pride, it should be because they are proud of their employees and not just because of the marketing.
From day one, the graduates of the future should be able to be the true version of themselves and not the version that they feel they have to be. They should be able to mention that they have a same-sex partner. They shouldn’t have to feel that they need to lie or keep hidden major portions of their lives.
From a business point of view, it really is a no-brainer, employees who can be themselves are going to be happy and productive employees, especially in an environment where differences are celebrated.
In my eyes, the ultimate goal is for us to reach a point where diversity isn’t discussed because it’s an innate part of the business landscape. Graduates and employees would feel that they are valued, respected and most importantly happy and healthy in their new roles.
Hopefully, that future is much closer than we realise.
Will Murray is a Henley Graduate 2018 and now Programmatic Display Account Manager at Merkle