Spotlight placed on LGBTIQ inclusion in the workforce

International Pride Month — June — is when many organisations reflect on LGBTIQ inclusive practices and how far they have come.

ACON Pride Inclusion Programs director Dawn Hough said: “Over the past decade, we have seen incredible advancements in workplace diversity and inclusion. As we progress further, it remains critical that not only efforts are acknowledged and congratulated, but pressure continues to be applied to maintain and build upon what has been achieved.”

A number of government department and agencies have been recognised for their work to incorporate LGBTIQ+ inclusive practices to support their gender and sexuality diverse employees in this year’s Australian LGBTQ Inclusion Awards, hosted by ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs. These include the Queensland Department of Education (gold tier employer), the Victorian Department Education and Training (bronze tier employer) and the NSW Police Force (silver Employer).

Room for improvement

The Australian Workplace Equality Index finding that Australian LGBTIQ workers are more likely to be in the closet and less likely to be completely out at work compared to previous years is concerning. Additional findings revealed an increase in the visibility of unwelcome jokes/innuendo and mild harassment (2.22 per cent increase overall) and an increase in the visibility of targeted serious bullying/harassment (3.11% increase overall). The number of people who were the target of more serious bullying/harassment as a direct result of their sexual orientation also increased by 3.02 per cent.

While there is an amazing breadth of work being done by many organisations to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people and communities, the NSW Department of Education clearly has a long way to go to ensure that LGBTIQ teachers, students and school community members can bring their whole selves to school feeling safe and welcome.

In a NSW report, LGBTIQ teachers conveyed high levels of discriminatory experiences based on their gender and/or sexuality diversity and most were not out to everyone in their school community. Verbal and psychological discrimination were the most commonly reported forms of discrimination, with students and staff colleagues respectively reported as the most frequent perpetrators of such incidents. Participants of the survey also indicated they had experienced discrimination in relation to employment, including to being looked over for job opportunities in their schools.

Federation seminar

Federation continues to advocate for LGBTIQ teachers and students, as well as provide resources to support teachers in their work. This includes a one-hour webinar on LGBTIQ Inclusive Schools, which provides teachers with information about LGBTIQ students and reasons to incorporate inclusive LGBTIQ practice into their schools and classrooms. References to Department of Education policy and examples of inclusive strategies are shared with participants. This webinar will run again on Tuesday 4 August and members can register to attend online.