by Aimee Treasure
2nd March 2016
As we see February draw to a close, we’ve looked back at what have been two significant events in the diversity calendar; LGBT+ History month here in the UK and over in the US, African American History month. Both of these events have celebrated the societal advancements for both communities and also paid tribute to previous generations who have struggled with adversity, endured hardship, and challenged others to ensure equal opportunity is part of our society. Although we are a long way from holistic inclusion, if it wasn’t for those individuals who fought for their inclusion in society, then we would still be much further from where we are today.
Alongside LGBT+ History month, this month OUTstanding celebrated three years of extraordinary LGBT+ role modelling in business. We are so inspired by of all of the OUTstanding role models and what they have achieved by standing up and being visible. The importance of allowing people to be themselves is hugely powerful and fundamentally important for our companies, our economy, our society and more importantly, for the individuals themselves.
The importance of role models, for every community, cannot be underestimated. The report Race at Work 2015* highlights that what black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) employees are short of are career role models- someone they aspire towards being like in their working life. The research identified the essential importance of role models to black British employees but the struggle to find them within their workplaces. This is true for many other groups also.
We have been so fortunate to see many diverse individuals, from many different backgrounds, rise to the top positions of business and society in recent. Barak Obama is the first African American President and Oprah Winfrey became the first black, female billionaire. Tim Cook, of Apple Inc, and Christopher Bailey, of Burberry, have done something very similar for the LGBT+ community. All the above have inspired current and future generations that you can succeed in achieving your goals, despite being diverse. But you don’t have to be a US President or the CEO of a company to be a role model. In your own job, organisation and every day life, by championing your authentic self and the authenticity of others around you, you are paving the way forward for your colleagues, future employees and society as a whole.
Reflecting back over this month, and the celebration of two integral diversity strands, has powerfully strengthened the principle that when we stand-up together, champion inclusion and celebrate the brilliant efforts of people, past and present, we can be counted and we will make a difference.