This article was originally published on June 24, 2022.
At Augury, when machines talk, we listen. However, it’s people that we really listen to – whether it’s our clients, partners or colleagues. Through various sessions and gatherings over Pride Month, we’ve tried to listen even more carefully to the journeys of people from the LGBTQ+ community. Here are some of the stories and insights that seemed to particularly resonate. However, these observations are only the tip of the rainbow-colored iceberg…
1) Speak Up
You should speak up if you feel disrespected or uncomfortable about a certain behavior. You should also speak up if you see this is happening with someone else.
2) It’s Not Just About ‘The Bedroom’
People are more than just their gender or orientation. We all have our own unique preferences and personal lives. We are all people who want to be authentic and to live and express ourselves freely. Meanwhile, on the job, we unite under the same vision and mission. We have work to do. We should not be distracted by what people may think, or cautious about who we are. Let’s focus on solving the problems in this world that need solving. And enjoy ourselves while doing it.
3) Acronyms Matter And Don’t Matter
We use the LGBTQ+ label – while emphasizing the +. Some of Augury’s detail-obsessed engineers have even memorized the expanded acronym LGBTQQIP2SAA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirit, Asexual and Allies). While no one likes being put in a box, labels can have advantages: it “names your struggle” and gives you a vocabulary to talk about it. And through talking, you build a sense of community, solidarity and belonging.
Some of Augury’s detail-obsessed engineers have even memorized the expanded acronym LGBTQQIP2SAA.
4) Empathy Starts At Home
One of our colleagues has two teenage children who recently came out. She was very supportive and also offered her home as an open and safe place to any of her children’s friends who may also come out. Amazing. So the question becomes: How do you best apply this level of openness and acceptance to a work environment?
5) Why No Pink In The Rainbow Flag?
Because many of us are manufacturing nerds, many loved this story behind why the iconic Rainbow Flag lost a stripe due to a manufacturing issue. The pink selected was a non-standard colour in flag fabric production and deemed too costly to produce. We also loved this quotation from the flag’s designer Gilbert Baker: “Our job as gay people was to come out, to be visible, to live in the truth, as I say, to get out of the lie. A flag really fit that mission, because that’s a way of proclaiming your visibility or saying, ‘This is who I am!’”
6) History Tells Stories
Besides the ever-expanding Rainbow Flag, there are many important stories in the history of the LGBTQ+ community, such as Stonewall in the US or the largest Pride parade in the Middle East. But there’s still much room for improvement – including in the workplace.
There’s also that history waiting to be written in, for example, those 70 countries where consensual same-sex activity is still criminalized.
Or imagine the tragedy of the AIDS pandemic through the filter of Covid-19: the combination therapy for HIV infection that now saves millions of lives every year took 15 years to develop. Now imagine, if the Covid-19 vaccines took that long to be developed. In fact, the vaccine development timeline was considerably shortened thanks to lessons learned during the fight against AIDS. We’ve certainly come a long way.
So what are the stories that Augury can tell that can adjust attitudes in the shortest time frame possible?
7) Upholding The Dividends Of Diversity
Augury knows from experience that diversity brings value – that a range of unique perspectives creates our particular brand of agility. We also know that a happy workplace creates an inspired workplace – which also creates value and retains talent. This is important for us. As a company, we need to continually create clarity around how we can promote these values. But we also have to be ready to properly deal with situations that may go against these values. That’s the test…
Augury knows from experience that diversity brings value – that a range of unique perspectives creates our particular brand of agility.
8) Lots of Information Out There. Use It.
For both individuals and organizations, there’s a lot of information out there – covering everything from creating support groups, to becoming a better ally to the community, to best practices when it comes to coming out in the workplace (if you choose to do so). You can start here.
9) Choose Your Battles. Not.
You can probably use your time better than trying to convince a set-their-ways 80-something of the advantages of being more open to others. That said, never look upon it as a battle. If you dig, you’ll probably find you have more in common with that 80-something than you thought.
Enjoy the ride.
10) Empathy-Building Is A Lifetime Project
Getting angry doesn’t work. Exchanging personal stories does. Whether it’s someone explaining the challenges they face in coming out in the workplace, or someone who grew up surrounded by homophobic language. It’s about taking the time to acknowledge and accept differences. No one size fits all. Everyone has their own journey – and it’s often radically different from one’s own. Stop, Listen, Learn. And don’t be afraid of asking questions (you can always apologize if you ask it in an insensitive way). In short: enjoy the ride.
11) If It’s Good For The LGBTQ+ Community, It’s Good For The Rest
At the end of the day, aren’t we all just looking for acceptance? Don’t we all just want to fit in without worrying about whether we fit in?
Do Reach Out…
Especially if you happen to be a rainbow flag manufacturer. We have a few ideas on how you can ramp up production.