It’s that time of the year again where buildings, billboards, bars, and social media newsfeeds are sprinkled with rainbow colours, and as a proud lesbian, I love it! I mean, I don’t have a pair of rainbow cycle shorts for nothing. Aside from the fact that we all love a bit of colour in our lives, rainbows shouldn’t be a branding or advertisement opportunity. There is a really important message behind Pride Month which, although promoted throughout June, should be relayed into our everyday lives.
Pride month is celebrated in June every year to honour the 1969 Stonewall riots and is a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and raise awareness of the challenges that continue to face LGBTQ+ people. It’s about showing support for those who have fought for LGBTQ+ rights. Support for diversity, support for inclusion and support for progression. It’s about raising awareness and acknowledging that there is more work to be done to ensure we are all respected equally. What better way to do this than paint cities and virtual timelines with colours which show unity towards a single goal – to achieve equality justice and opportunity for people of all genders and sexual identities.
Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace and across the planning and built environment profession is extremely important to ensure we are all moving in the right direction. There are some fantastic organisations such as PlanningOut, BuildingEquality, and Constructing Rainbows to name just a few that are doing a fantastic job in raising the profile of the need for equality, whilst making strides to implement real change in the industry through things like toolbox talks for construction workers. I’d recommend signing up to these as a member of the community or as an ally.
It’s fantastic to see that employers are also increasingly playing their part. Stepping into a new job is not easy for anyone, so imagine having to couple that with ‘coming out’ to new colleagues and clients regularly which, by the way, doesn’t just happen once. The old idea that you ‘come out of the closet’ with your rainbow flags waving, and that’s it, is totally false. The reality is that even in general chit-chatter with colleagues and clients you find yourself in situations where you stumble and question yourself on whether you should say that one thing that would ‘out’ yourself again. Such simple things like, ‘I spent the weekend with my girlfriend’s family’, or ‘I went for food with my girlfriend’. Those day-to-day conversations are so trivial for most people but for an LGBTQ+ person, are quite daunting.
This is why employers should make an effort to make workplaces inclusive, to upskill on how to identify discrimination, or to simply communicate to employees on the correct way to speak with people. That said, it’s often the smaller actions that have a wider reach and influence. Take, for example, the push across Deloitte for everyone to add pronouns to email signatures. This has given me the opportunity to explain its importance to someone who may not have had visibility of this before.
The Deloitte GLOBE network, which provides networking opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across the firm, was a key pull for me to join Deloitte. Universities are wonderfully inclusive environments and the last thing I wanted to do after graduating was to feel like I was stepping backwards into a job with a reluctance to truly express who I am. I needed to work somewhere that was inclusive and progressive and where I could feel like I had an active role in promoting diversity. Deloitte is where I found this.
The GLOBE community includes members and allies, who are encouraged to attend a multitude of events throughout the year from social events, coffee clubs, lunch and learn sessions, panel events, drag bingo, and pride marches and events. You name it, we’ve done it! We’ve even been joined by our then CEO David Sproul for the London Pride event float!
Within the Real Assets team, which is the side of Deloitte that I work within, we have a forum of planners and surveyors who meet monthly with the aim to make real change directly within the team across all aspects of diversity and inclusion. In the last year we have made huge strides in making the wider RA team aware of the various diversity and inclusion networks at Deloitte including: GLOBE, the Christian Network, the Muslim Network, Workability Network, and the Multicultural Network, to name just a few. The forum has been fantastic at raising awareness of important diversity training, highlighting key dates, milestone or important news for various aspects of diversity, raising money for charity, and promoting various events taking place internally and externally.
I’m proud to play a part in this team to promote diversity and inclusion of all forms. Although as a nation we have made huge strides over the last few years with regards to LGBTQ+ equality, there are occasions, or news stories which remind you of the discrimination and abuse that LGBTQ+ people face daily. We still have a long way to go, so I’d encourage you to act too and to take an active role in making sure that the businesses you work for are also playing their part.
Author: Jennifer Chatfield MRTPI
Jennifer is an Assistant Manager and Chartered Town Planner (MRTPI) in the Real Estate Regional Planning and Development Team. She has experience working on a number of large-scale regeneration projects in Manchester, including mixed-use, leisure and commercial schemes.