James Harding, one of our employees and proud face of our #ChangeTheFace campaign shares their thoughts on celebrating this year’s Pride, the importance of working for an LGBT+ inclusive employer, and why now more than ever we need to #ChangeTheFace of technology to create equal opportunities for all.
How timely that 2020 Pride Month arrived during a time of severe civil unrest, with the Black Lives Matter movement coming to a head after the tragic death of George Floyd. The first Pride – the Stonewall riots – were led by Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans* woman. It seemed almost poetic that the Black Lives Matter movement would come to the forefront of the world’s news during Pride Month, reminding us where the celebration came from and how far we still have to go to achieve equality for all LGBT+ people across the globe.
Working for an LGBT+ inclusive employer matters because any business is rooted in people. Changing a logo once a year isn’t enough. For a business to truly support people, it needs to be understood that human rights are universal. However, everyone has privileges and biases that they may not even be aware of. I will never know what it is like to walk in the shoes of a black trans* person, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t consider my own privileges and seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be white and LGBT+ - namely that I will never have to experience institutionalised racism on top of potential LGBT+ prejudice. That is the definition of privilege – not minimising anyone’s struggles, but realising that others may face even more struggles than you do. By implementing beneficial employee policies such as our International Travel, Gender Transition, and LGBT+ Information for Parents toolkits, plus our inclusive trans* healthcare and the role models programme in conjunction with Stonewall, Vodafone demonstrates repeatedly that Pride is more than just a party.
When deciding on a business to work for it’s important to look at their values – not only what they are saying, but how people are reflected in their media output. It’s all well and good for a company to say that they actively promote inclusion, however if their website is full of only white, heterosexual people and 2.4 children model families, this speaks volumes about how they truly consider inclusion. Vodafone have an array of stories from real employees on their careers site, and I can attest to the validity of these as myself and many of my friends from the LGBT+ network have written about our unique experiences.
In the past, the technology industry has very much represented itself - intentionally or not - as an industry for white men. That one perspective – that of a white, heterosexual male – will only engage similar people. To recruit the same ‘type’ of people results in us only getting one story. Our industry will become sea of similarity in times when we need innovation and diversity. Introducing fresh perspectives and embracing different ways of working is essential to the survival of any business in 2020.
From a business perspective, if we’re only getting one story we will fail to connect with our stakeholders and customers, who as human beings are diverse by nature. I’m often asked “Why does anything need to be about labels? Labels are for clothes.” The key is that we must ensure we’re not just telling one story. If we fail to consider other perspectives, and don’t amplify those voices instead of speaking for them, we’ll have not only failed as a business, but as people - which is far more damning.
The spirit of Pride is not only about being comfortable in your own skin and proud of who you are, but is also about embracing other people’s differences and raising marginalised voices.
It is not only time to #ChangeTheFace, it’s time to change the story.
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