Throughout Pride month, Index Exchange hosted a variety of initiatives across our global offices to inspire, educate, commemorate and celebrate the LGBTQA+ community.
Diversity continues to be a hot button topic within our society, yet many are still struggling to increase diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Here at Index Exchange, we value diversity in culture, thought and people. This helps to create a safe working environment which encourages a variety of opinions and maximises the potential of our collective whole.
During a recent panel discussion in our London office on what it means to be LGBTQA+ in the workplace, Chris Howard, Intertech LGBT+ Co-lead, discussed the importance of being your true self to your closest friends, acquaintances, colleagues and clients. While it’s become easier and easier to come out of the closet, hiding who you are from clients can also negatively affect how you work and how you integrate into your organisation. He noted, “We shouldn’t have to put sexuality at the heart of who we are, but we need to let people know that they can be their whole selves at work.”
Especially in tech and creative cultures that require pitching ideas to those around you, a stereotypical macho culture has been the norm. This has resulted in only 12% of senior creatives being women, and significantly less LGBTQA+ representation. Melina Jacovou, Founder & CEO of Propel London Ltd., challenged the lack of diversity on corporate boards: “This trend will be forever if we don’t ensure that those responsible for hiring represent a diverse background and then once hired, corporations lift LGBT employees so that they can become future stakeholders and decision-makers.”
Our New York office also hosted a virtual fireside chat across five North American offices to share the perspectives and narratives of employees’ experiences as members of the LGBTQA+ community in the workplace. During the discussion, Ryan Reeves, Associate Manager, Partner Development added, “Being accepted for who you are has helped create an open forum for progressive conversation. The number of people in the LGBT community hasn’t changed over the years, but the willingness to have a conversation has encouraged more members of the community to comfortably ‘come out’.”
In a social series throughout Pride month, we shared perspectives from LGBTQA+ allies and members of LGBTIX: Index Exchange’s affinity group aimed at building community around sexual orientation both internally and externally. We found ourselves in awe over their thoughtful, inspiring perspectives and have included a few of those highlights below. For more stories of #IXpride, visit us on Instagram.
“I’ve learned that being respected, valued and supported for who you are is incredibly important in fostering a healthy workplace environment. Everyone should be able to express themselves without scrutiny or the feeling of being singled out. It wasn’t too long ago that people would easily say things to me like “oh, maybe you’ll meet a nice man one day, you never know!” The more workplace diversity there is, the less likely it will be for people to say/do things that might inadvertently be hurtful or disrespectful. Personally, I never felt like I was telling the truth when I attempted to answer that ever-inappropriate question about which “label” I subscribed to. It felt wrong saying one thing or the other. Let’s just say no one was surprised when I met my (now) wife.”
– Azurée Caldwell, Manager, Concierge Services
“If you believe in equality, you’re an ally. However, I have noticed that a big issue in the tech workplace is that it trends towards a largely male, heterosexual demographic, which is perpetuated when mostly heterosexual males hire for other mostly heterosexual males. When we have an entire company of people that look like ourselves, it does a couple of detrimental things: it makes people who are from a different walk of life feel unwelcome, and we always end up in consensus of our “brilliant” ideas because there’s no one to challenge that. That’s why a diverse workplace matters to me. I love being challenged in different ways from people of all backgrounds and orientations.”
– Ivan Peng, Software Engineer
“To me, pride means being yourself completely without reservations. Growing up, we were often taught that being gay wasn’t ok. It was extremely difficult to have a huge aspect of your life invalidated. When a member of the #LGBTQA community is able to come out, we are allowed to embrace a part of ourselves that we have otherwise been told to hide. Pride Month gives us an outlet to fully celebrate a part of us that we once were conditioned not to like. Don’t be ashamed of who you are regardless of what other people tell you. It’s definitely a process that everyone goes through differently, but don’t be afraid to seek help whether it’s from a friend, family member or even an LGBT therapist. The cliché saying, “it gets better” is almost usually the case; it is a relieving experience to finally get to be your true self without any inhibitions.”
– Fedja Sefic, Manager, Buyer Services