Category: testimonial, BAME Inclusion, LGBT+, Pride Month, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, diversity and equality, UK Atomic Energy Authority, UKAEA, BAME Pride
Marcia Ore is the Equality and Inclusion Partner for UK Atomic Energy Authority. A fairly new role within the organisation, Marcia has been there for eleven months and it is her job to improve diversity and inclusion at UKAEA designing, implementing, and championing D&I initiatives.
“As the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Partner I am the technical expert on EDI and responsible for delivering UKAEA’s strategy in this area. Prioritising UKAEA’s resources and ensuring that attention is focused in the most effective and appropriate areas. I am also responsible for developing, monitoring and reviewing policies and strategies designed to ensure that UKAEA, its staff and stakeholders, engage with legislative and strategic duties and comply with good practice,” said Marcia.
Day to day, at UKAEA, Marcia delivers workshops and presentations, provides advice and guidance to internal stakeholders on UKAEA policies and practices, organises internal events and attends external events where she liaises with other EDI professionals to find and promote good practice.
During the month of June we are celebrating Pride and showcasing the experiences of LGBT+ community members within our networks. Today we are focusing on BAME LGBT+ inclusion and learning from Marcia’s experience of being part of these two communities in a bid to tackle prejudice.
Marcia grew up in Birmingham, her parents, both part of the Windrush generation, travelling from Jamaica to the mother country encouraged to support the UK with workforce shortages. Marcia recalls that her family was a victim of regular racist attacks growing up.
“As a young child we lived in an area that was quite diverse, but I remember the physical racist attacks we experienced with fireworks through our letterbox and graffiti on our doors, when the National Front were particularly active and following MP Enoch Powell’s infamous speech.
“ In my teens we moved to a predominantly white area where we were one of only three black families . I was always the different one,” she said.
Marcia is also part of the LGBT+ community and is this month celebrating Pride at home with her wife. When asked if she has faced particular challenges relating to her sexuality, Marcia said:
“Yes, because I only came to terms with my sexuality at 47 after three heterosexual marriages and having had my two children, so people getting to know a different side of me challenged both family, friends and colleagues. Being black or from an ethnic minority is not like being white, understandably our experience is different. The first Pride event I attended was UK Black Pride in 2010 and it was an incredible experience, with white members of the LGBT+ community also present and welcomed. The next one was Brighton Pride in 2016, again a really positive experience. Although I have been in other spaces where I have definitely not felt welcome or accepted into that LGBT+ community who were all white and been discriminated against because I’m black. Perhaps that was due to geographical and cultural reasons.”
It is both shocking and sad that Marcia has experienced such discrimination within a community that fundamentally promotes the acceptance of all.
“I tend to stay away from most LGBT+ networks and events as they’re not a psychologically safe space for me. My wife is white but I’ve never felt welcome in some LGBT+ communities,” said Marcia.
At UKAEA there is a new focus on inclusion and diversity and they are in the process of formalising networks for various communities, including BAME and LGBT+. This is important work that we at VERCIDA would encourage all companies to focus on if they want to be part of the future of work; offering a landscape of equality no matter race, sexual orientation, disability or any other personal characteristic or difference.
“I came to UKAEA because I saw an opportunity to make a difference and I believe the organisation wants to do that. It isn’t about ticking boxes, if it were, I wouldn’t come to work here and I certainly wouldn’t stay.”
But why are we, and why is Marcia, so passionate about diversity in the workplace? We want to stamp out negative discrimination and promote equality; something we know most people support, ethically and from a performance perspective.
“I think that for me it’s about everyone regardless of who they are. Feeling they belong, are accepted and have an opportunity to not just survive but thrive. That’s what I’m striving to help UKAEA do so that when people come here it doesn’t matter what they look like or who they are. That their talent is seen and they don’t have to be something they are not to fit in,” said Marcia.
With Pride month coming to a close, it is important to focus on why we have been celebrating the LGBT+ community this month and appreciate the true purpose of these celebrations.
“People celebrate Pride for different reasons, sometimes I don’t think people understand the history of Pride. It’s not just about one strand of the LGBT+ community, but all strands. It’s about acknowledging and celebrating difference in that community and valuing what that benefit that community and individuals bring.
“Spend more time listening to members from that community about their experiences and learn from their experiences because you’ll never walk in their shoes so if you want to make things different for them they’re the ones that need to be listened to. My analogy would be if you wanted to know what it’s like to be a parent you wouldn’t speak to someone that has never been a parent,” said Marcia.
We encourage businesses to follow UKAEA’s lead in championing D&I and embedding equality for all into their company cultures. A diverse and happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Happy Pride to all and thank you, Marcia, for sharing your story.