RISE at work this Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras celebrations have kicked off for 2021, and while they look a little different this year (goodbye sweaty dance parties and raucous parades, may you rest in peace) the LGBTIQA+ community is just as strong as ever.
The theme for this year’s festivities is ‘RISE’, and when it comes to careers, that’s what we want to encourage YOU to do. It’s through community resilience and support that we can aim to make our workplaces as accepting, diverse, and united as possible.
Whether you’re a member of the queer community or a supportive ally, how will you RISE in the workplace?
I rise above discrimination
For members of the LGBTIQA+ community, entering the workforce can be stressful, with many concerned that their sexuality or gender identity could negatively affect their work and professional relationships. Only about one third of queer-identifying people are out at work, which can lead to mental health issues, lower job satisfaction, and a sense of disconnection from those around them.
While Australian workplaces have made great strides in working towards creating inclusive work environments, there is still a lot that individuals can do to champion inclusion, and fight instances of discrimination when they see it in their careers.
First up, remember you are not required to disclose your gender or sexuality to anyone at work should you not wish to do so. It’s important to prioritise your safety and comfort above all else. But if you do find yourself or a colleague experiencing discrimination or prejudice at work on the basis of gender identity or sexual preferences, there are a few steps you can take.
After noticing something discriminatory at work, it might be your first instinct to jump in all guns blazing, but it’s sometimes best to proceed with caution. Try checking in with your LGBTIQA+ colleague to ask how they would like to handle the situation before stepping in yourself.
Call it out
If you feel safe and comfortable, you can help resolve conflict at work by taking your concerns directly to the person involved. Make sure that you discuss the issues plainly and unambiguously, while being respectful. You may request a mediator to help aid this talk, or even bring a friend.
Take it to HR or a manager
Taking concerns to your HR department or a manager is a great place to start tackling these issues head on. This is particularly important if you witness or experience behaviour that is potentially unlawful, such as assault or corruption.
For more targeted advice on your rights at work, and how to rise above discrimination, head to our LGBTQIA+ and Ally Career Guide.
I rise to the occasion
Even if you’re not a member of the LGBTIQA+ community, knowing some of the issues that affect your queer co-workers can help you call out negative behaviour or practices, such as discrimination and prejudice. Basically, be an ally!
There are a couple of ways you can effectively support and assist your LGBTIQA+ colleagues:
Even if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable, or you don’t think there are any queer people present, call out instances of discrimination and prejudice when you see them.
Unconscious bias can have real and negative impacts on others, even if you don’t realise you have a bias to begin with. Make sure you’re always challenging your own assumptions and biases, and learn to notice them by taking an Implicit Bias Test.
Amplify others’ voices
Rather than speaking for them, listen to, learn from, and collaborate with LGBTIQA+ members of your workplace. It can be tough, but this also means knowing when to step back if that’s what’s necessary.
I rise through the ranks
Part of the fun of Mardi Gras is taking the time to recognise and celebrate the successes, achievements, and career developments of the vibrant queer community.
Here at UTS, we have countless alumni who have gone on to do incredible things for themselves and their community through their careers. Take a look at just a few on this blog post.
We rise together
It’s with the support of our LGBTIQA+ and ally friends and colleagues that we can collectively create a supportive work environment.
If your workplace doesn’t already have one, why not create a Pride Network? This creates a safe space to talk through any issues, create opportunities, or even just have fun! Not only is this a wonderful way to cultivate an environment of acceptance and support, it might even forge friendships and networking opportunities.
However you choose to celebrate Mardi Gras this year, we hope it’s a safe and supportive time for you, especially at work. If you need any more guidance on navigating the workplace as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community or ally, make sure to check out our LGBTQIA+ and Ally Career Guide. This year, let’s all choose to RISE.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash
Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Masters (Creative Writing) student, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.