October 23, 2013
October 15, 2013
In connection with National Coming Out Day last Friday, October 11th, the NRC newspaper published an article about progress for LGBT people in the workplace. A number of Workplace Pride members were interviewed for the article along with the Workplace Pride Staff. “This is an important step for LGBT emancipation in the workplace, given the large number of subscribers to the NRC as well as the fact that it is a well-respected source of information in the country for both political and economic news”, said David Pollard, Executive Director of Workplace Pride.
The article also highlighted Workplace Pride’s “I can be myself@work” campaign and the photo exhibition currently running at Hotel Pulitzer. This exhibition is the culmination of an 8-month long campaign and contest that saw hundreds of photo entries of people being themselves at work. The goal of the campaign is to showcase that LGBT people, and all types of people for that matter, are happiest and can perform best if they work in accepting and inclusive environments. Winning photos were re-shot with professional photographers for the exhibition.
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October 7, 2013
As part of the national coming out day week, Workplace Pride is pleased to announce the outcome of a study conducted jointly with ESADE Business School in Barcelona on the subject of “Trust” in the workplace. More specifically, what role does trust play in whether or not LGBT people come out of the closet in the workplace? According to researcher Ben Capell of ESADE Business School’s ‘Future of Work’ chair, the level of trust with a direct manager, or lack thereof, is a key reason that LGBT people do or do not come out of the closet at work.
Workplace Pride facilitated parts of the study through its broad network, and recently interviewed Mr. Capell on the results of the study:
WP: The word “Trust” sounds like a very abstract and relative concept in the working world. Can you elaborate on why this is so important; in-particular for LGBT people?
Capell: Trust has become a big business issue over the last few years, many leaders and organizations are asking questions such as what is trust, what makes it so special? how to develop it? etc . To make things simple lets say that trust is our willingness to become vulnerable to another. When you trust someone you are more willing to take a risk with them, because you feel reassured they will not harm you. One relevant way in which we can make ourselves vulnerable is by sharing sensitive information, Think for example of purchasing a book online and under what conditions you will give your credit card details. In a way, it is similar for LGBT employees, because in some workplace coming out might involve risks such as discrimination and social hostility, many employees will first want to feel that they can trust their managers and organizations before they come out and make themselves vulnerable.
WP: You speak of the “Disclosure Dilemma” in your report. Can you tell us in a few words what this means?
Capell: The Disclosure Dilemma is a term that is used sometime to describe the situation faced by many LGBT employees who did not come out at work.. On one hand hiding ones sexual orientation or gender identity creates a huge emotional stress and involves worrying thoughts such as who knows and who does not? will I remember what I told my colleague about my weekend plans next time they ask me? will someone out me one day at work?. On the other hand, many employees are afraid to come out because they do not want to expose themselves to the risk we mentioned before. So they face a difficult dilemma.
There could be a very good resolution though- this is when employees are out in a positive working environment.
WP: What would be your advice to employers who want to create a more ‘trusting’ working environment for their LGBT employees?
Capell: Trust is typically based on four pillars or dimensions. We trust others that we believe they care about us, that they are competent, that they tell us the truth, and that their results in the past show they are reliable.
Basically, to create a more trusting working environment organizations need to make sure they strengthen each of these pillars. Just for example, the dimension caring can be strengthen when leaders express interest in their employees well-being and signal that this caring is not conditional on their sexual orientation or gender identity, also when managers and HR stand firm to protect/support any employee who may experience hostility because of being LGBTQ.
WP: And what advice would you give to the LGBT employees themselves who doubt whether to come out or not?
Capell: I cannot advise all LGBT employees to come out because it really depends on the person and the workplace. But first I recommend people to know their rights and, in general, in Western Europe LGBT employees enjoy legal protection, what reduces the objective risks involved in coming out. If no one is out in the organization, and people really have concerns on how their colleagues and managers will react, than what I recommend is to start by recruiting supportive allies which have discussions with management and HR and help transform the workplace. This I think should be the first step.
One thing that is important to mention is that many times people prefer to conceal the fact they are LGBT out of fears, but once they come out they realize that their colleagues are cool about it and there was no threat. Also, the more people are out, the it easier it becomes for others to do the same- so it dynamic. Last, just to mention that people should be aware that the anxiety associated with staying in the closet can really have negative health effects, so if coming out seen as too risky, maybe it makes sense to reconsider where to work.
WP: In your conclusions, you suggest some actions that may be seen as ‘outside the realm of business’ to some. What is the message that organizations are sending to the LGBT employees if they follow your advice?
Capell: Simply said, the message is “we value you as a person and as an employee and we would like you to be yourself at work”.
You mentioned ‘outside the realm of business”, let me touch this point. There is unequivocal evidence that organizations that provide LGBT employees with a supportive environment where they can be themselves at work get employees that are healthier, more committed and more productive. Furthermore, and as experience shows, discrimination of LGBT employees can be costly as it involve serious legal risks and social or consumer backlash.
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Click here for report in pdf Researcher ESADE Business School: Ben Capell
Q: Can you say in a few words what your role is as Program Director of Social Events for Workplace Pride?
I see my role as a binding element between all Workplace Pride Programs. I do this by staying up to date with all of the events organized by Workplace Pride. Thinking along with and giving advice to the other program managers in the Foundation is also very important; for example with the youth program which is now in place. Another important source of information is the monthly network drinks. Here I listen to what ‘supplementary’ topics should be covered alongside the sometimes ‘serious’ work of the Foundation. My goal is to organize events that are comfortable to everyone, but which still have a ‘pink tint’.
Ik zie mijn rol als bindende factor tussen alle programs van Workplace Pride. Door het constant op de hoogte zijn van alle evenementen, georganiseerd door WPP kan ik daar op in spelen. Het meedenken en advies geven aan een ander program binnen Workplace Pride vindt ik heel erg belangrijk, bijvoorbeeld het jongeren programma, dat nu staat. De maandelijkse netwerkborrels gebruik ik dan ook om mensen aan te horen wat zij nog missen naast de vaak serieuze onderwerpen, die vaak op de agenda staan. Mijn doel is om op een losse manier events te organiseren waar iedereen zich in kan vinden, maar wel altijd met een roze randje.
Q: How do you see that this fits into the overall goals of Workplace Pride for LGBTs in the workplace?
LGBT acceptance in the workplace begins with yourself of-course. If that is not a problem then you will speak about this with your colleagues, after which you will do the same with other organizations by asking them how they deal with this topic. Workplace Pride is the binding factor in this journey. In addition to the Workplace Pride events, there needs to be time enough to meet each other in a very relaxed atmosphere in which you can get to know each other and network. This, for example, is the way to invite an aspiring member and speak to them about what the Foundation stands for.
LGBT acceptatie op de werkvloer begint natuurlijk eerst bij jezelf, is dat geen probleem, dan ga je hierover praten met een aantal collega’s binnen je bedrijf, vervolgens ga je andere bedrijven benaderen hoe zij daar mee omgaan. Workplace Pride is de bindende factor daarin. Naast de bijeenkomsten van WPP moet er ook tijd zijn om elkaar op een ontspannende manier te leren kennen en vooral te netwerken. Het is de manier om bijvoorbeeld een aspirant lid uit te nodigen en in een relaxte sfeer bij te praten waar WPP voor staat.
Q: What have been the highlights for this program for the past year?
The highlight for me has been the comfortable cooperation with Dvars, the meeting place for Workplace Pride members in the Amsterdam region; The Workplace Pride campaign “I can be myself@work 2013” with it’s highlight the Amsterdam Canal Parade; the visit to the European Parliament at which we were received by representatives who work on LGBT questions with the EU; The up-coming joint network drink in the Pulitzer Hotel during Coming Out Day. In this regard, we have also managed for a large number of Workplace Pride members to be raising the rainbow flag in front of their offices on that day.
Hoogtepunt voor mij is de ludieke samenwerking met Dvars, de ontmoetingsplek van de WPP leden regio Amsterdam. De WPP campagne Can be Myself@work 2013 met als hoogtepunt de Canal Parade. Het bezoek naar het Europees parlement met ontvangst door iemand, die zich bezig houdt met LGBT vraagstukken in de EU. De aankomende gezamenlijke netwerkborrel in het Pulitzer tijdens Coming Out Day, waarbij we het tevens voor elkaar hebben gekregen, dat ook inderdaad een groot gedeelte van de WPP leden de regenboogvlag hijsen op die dag.
Q: Occasionally, there is criticism that social events don’t have meaningful value for ‘serious’ causes such as Workplace Pride. How would you respond to that?
Actually a social event is an ideal place to talk about topics in a relaxed atmosphere, that will later can be put on agendas to be worked out in more detail. A social event may appear to be just about drinking and pleasure, but topics are also discussed that truly occupy the thoughts of people. In this sense, networking is very important as a fall-back if something needs to be arranged. I find that the most important aspect though is that a straight ally can learn about what we are doing within the LGBT community in a relaxed atmosphere. And THESE are the people we need to create general acceptance for LGBT people in the workplace.
Juist een social event leent zich bij uitstek om onderwerpen aan te snijden in een ontspannen sfeer, die je later op de agenda kan zetten om verder uit te werken. Een social event lijkt aan de buitenkant alleen maar op borrelen en plezier, maar er worden ook onderwerpen besproken, die de mensen bezig houdt. En netwerken is zo belangrijk, zodat je altijd kan terug vallen op je vangnet als je iets wil regelen. Het belangrijkste vindt ik eigenlijk dat je een straight ally op een ontspannen manier kennis kan laten maken, wat ons bezig houdt. En juist die heb je nodig voor algehele acceptatie op de werkvloer.
Q: What is in the pipeline for the coming year?
Looking back at this past year, I have been very occupied with the “I can be myself @work 2013 campaign”. Next year, I would like to see Workplace Pride’s program “Young@Work” given more emphasis and hope to have an advising role in this. I’d also like to concentrate on events in addition to the monthly networking drink. Another trip to Brussels is already being planned as well and a network drink in Rotterdam will be started next year. Although guest speakers are difficult to get for the drinks, this is the top priority on my agenda. Amsterdam has so many LGBT event to offer that we will be looking for more opportunities as well. Although we are in a recession, I plan on being more active with our members to play a role in the monthly drinks. Every organization would like free promotion on our facebook page!
Terugkijkend op afgelopen jaar, ben ik teveel belast geweest met de campagne. Volgend jaar is Young@Work aan zet. Ik zie me meer als een adviserende rol daarin. Ik wil me meer gaan richten op events buiten de maandelijkse netwerkborrels. Natuurlijk gaan we weer een keer naar Brussel, dat staat al vast. De netwerkborrel van Rotterdam moet volgend jaar een feit zijn. Gastsprekers is echt moeilijk te krijgen, maar heeft voor mij prio 1 op de agenda. Amsterdam heeft heel wat te bieden op gebied van LGBT Events. Het is crisis, maar ik ga toch intensiever de leden benaderen om als bedrijf meer een stempel te drukken op de maandelijkse borrels. Gratis reclame op de FB pagina’s wil elk bedrijf.
As part of the week-long 2013 National Coming Out Day celebrations, Workplace Pride Co-Chair, Marion Mulder, opened the exhibition “I can be myself@work” on 7 Oct. at the Hotel Pulitzer, Amsterdam. This exhibition is the culmination of an 8-month long campaign and contest that saw hundreds of photo entries of people being themselves at work.
“It is important that people, both LGBT and non-LGBT see that being yourself at work is vital to your health and well-being” said Mulder. “The clear message with this exhibition is that those organizations which create working environments that are inclusive and welcoming to all, particularly LGBT, will be rewarded with happier and more productive employees… and who can say no to that?“.
The “I can be myself@work” photo exhibition runs at the Hotel Pulitzer until the end of October.
Marion Mulder (left), Co-Chair of Workplace Pride opens the exhibition along with members of the campaign team.