“Whether we’re cheering or competing, we are all at our best when we feel part of the team.” This is the motto for ‘Come Out Active’ week, promoted by Stonewall and Team Pride, a group of organisations supporting LGBT sports players and fans. It is part of a wider campaign encouraging symbolic support for LGBT people in sport by wearing Rainbow Laces in their shoes.
In sport, it’s clear that we don’t always feel part of the team and the headline facts are quite stark:
• 40% of LGBT people don’t think sport is a welcoming space
• 11% of LGBT people have been discriminated against while exercising at a fitness club or taking part in group sport in the last year; for the same reasons, 28% of trans people have been discriminated against.
• 14% of LGBT pupils - including 29% of trans pupils - are bullied during sports lessons.
Yet we know, regardless of the type of business, sport or activity, everyone will benefit if it’s more inclusive of lesbian, gay, bi, and trans including non-binary people.
The call to action is clear; everyone benefits when we create LGBT+ inclusive environments in which every individual truly feels part of the team.
Inspired by the Rainbow Laces campaign, here are three ways to create inclusive spaces at work, where people can be their authentic self:
Inclusivity is built through our actions. A very public action is to let everyone know you are inclusive, by actively supporting LGBT causes. If you can’t wear Rainbow Laces in your shoes, then think creatively – a rainbow lanyard, a rainbow badge or stickers. Make the clear visible statement that everyone is welcome.
In business, we expect that our policies support inclusive environments for LGBT people. Check they are up to date and that you have a policy on homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. Check policies for gendered language that will exclude people.
Sport is often played in exclusive gender groupings. Business provides the opportunity for “mixed” participation. We might be used to providing equal opportunities in terms of careers, recruitment, promotion and pay, but you should also check if your organisation breaks down unnecessary barriers to opportunity in the social, collaborative and more fun aspects of the work environment. For example, examining the range of social activities can remove the unconscious signals that your business is not inclusive.
Being inclusive isn’t just the right thing to do. Creating a welcoming environment makes your company a better place to work, making your business sustainable in the long term, and allows each and every employee the opportunity to be accepted for who they are.