June marks the yearly celebration of Pride Month for LGBTQ+ people across the world, chosen because June marks the date 50 years ago when the Stonewall riots took place in 1969 kickstarting pride marches in the UK and across the world. It’s a time for the community to reflect on the progress that’s been made in terms of equality and a way to give hope to people who believe they will be completely alone if they come out. This year marked the kick-off of Scott Logic’s involvement in LGBTQ+ Pride Month activities around the company, involving people in activities and events that educated, stimulated conversations and raised £427.90 for local LGBTQ+ charities. The amount raised was matched by the company meaning over £850 was donated to charity.
So why celebrate?
A study conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), one of the largest STEM industry bodies, found that 30 percent of LGBT young people in the UK would not consider a career in one of the fields due to worries about discrimination. Issues like this not only mean that the IT industry looses out on potentially great engineers but also that an estimated £11.2 billion a year is lost to LGBTQ+ engineers having to be in the closet due to fear of discrimination.
As seen in Stonewall’s LGBT in Britain work report, employers who take active steps towards establishing inclusive work policies, by showing visible commitment to LGBT equality and showcasing best practice equality policies, have a real impact on the lives of LGBT staff, boost work morale and create a work environment that people are proud to work in.
Covering and Masking
The need to cover or mask, constantly monitoring and changing behaviour to hide one’s true self, disproportionately effects LGBTQ+ people who may avoid talking about what they do out of work or have to hide their partner’s gender in order to avoid outing themselves. Imagine having to use a large portion of your brain power every day to filter and check what you’re saying, or the amount of energy required to make snap analysis of how safe it is to act like yourself with any new people or situation.
Using a large amount of energy to mask one’s self not only takes away from the mental energy available for problem solving and other engineering tasks but results in a disconnect between people. Since our team mates are frequently able to see if we’re masking or holding something back, they will start disengage from them due to our inauthenticity; which results in a lack of team integration and a breakdown of trust between team members.
A corporate, or engineering, environment that allows people to bring their true authentic self means that people can spend time and energy on the work and means that everyone can built full working relationships with the real you and each other. Not only that, but by being ourselves, we can influence design and spot issues that may otherwise not be identified (read my blog post on how diversity in teams can improve testing for more on this).
We have a way to go
The Stonewall LGBT in Britain work report 2019 shows that there’s still a way to go with making LGBTQ+ people feel able to be themselves in the workplace:
- One in five (19 per cent) lesbian, gay and bi employees have experienced verbal bullying from colleagues, customers or service users because of their sexual orientation in the last five years
- One in eight (13 per cent) lesbian, gay and bi employees would not feel confident reporting homophobic bullying in their workplace
- A quarter (26 per cent) of lesbian, gay and bi workers are not at all open to colleagues about their sexual orientation
- Nearly half (42 per cent) of trans people are not living permanently in their preferred gender role stated they are prevented from doing so because they fear it might threaten their employment status
- Over 10 per cent of trans people experienced being verbally abused and six per cent were physically assaulted at work. As a consequence of harassment and bullying, a quarter of trans people will feel obliged to change their jobs.
By celebrating pride here at Scott Logic and throughout the IT industry we send a clear message of inclusion, that every person regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or race is a respected and valued contributor and team member. This will allow people to bring themselves to the conversation and want to be a part of it in the first place.