It is difficult to look at the Winter Olympic Games without being reminded of the worsening conditions for homosexuals in Russia. Unfortunately, this sexual politics of hate is being replicated in several other countries notably in Nigeria, Uganda, and India where sexuality rights have backslid. It is particularly sad and depressing that these policies to divide and bully minorities have only come out to unite factions and win seats in parliaments.
These have only made headlines in the UK because we ourselves have become less tolerant of this type of attitude. It is a hatred which Britain – thankfully – no longer publically accepts. According to the British Social Attitudes Report (2013) each successive generation, main UK political party, and religious group has become more accepting of homosexuality. Our attitudes are more liberal and accepting. It’s a wonderful testament to the progress being made. There is still work to be done and battles to be fought but… we are winning.
Stonewall’s recent campaign has recently challenged this ‘difference’ and lack of tolerance with its own posters. Juxtaposing two working (uniformed) individuals they force viewers to confront their stereotypes and ask if eithers’ sexuality matters. Of course it doesn’t! They ridicule what it means to be a “gay worker” and how different that is from a “non-gay worker”. The same message and imagery could of course be borrowed for bisexuals, lesbians, the transgendered, and any other persons. It’s partly what is wonderful about the LGBT tag. It demonstrates further unity for what could otherwise be ignored as “significant minorities”.
It brings unity and togetherness into the fold. It has its faults but remaining with the positives, it means all the individual groups (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender individuals) may borrow strategies from each other. Empower each other. This is especially true in employment. There is so much material supporting minority groups and it is vital that you use it. It might seem obvious but don’t restrict yourself to career advice aimed at your group alone. Some say ‘she can’t understand what I’m going through’ or ‘he has had it easier than me’. But that doesn’t stop you borrowing from them and adapting it to your situation. Likewise, there are role-models not necessarily LGBT-individuals who can be a great source of hope and inspiration.
Once you begin to think in this manner it certainly opens up new avenues to help you get ahead. On that note, I’ve selected some of the best pieces of advice written for career advancement by other minorities. Adapt them, change them, and modify them: pick and drop them depending on what works for you.
1. Mentoring and shadowing have proven hugely successful as supportive mechanisms in career progression. The most obvious thinking might be that you learn from their knowledge and avoid the mistakes they made. Less obvious benefits however, are the support and encouragement they can give when things get difficult and most importantly and often forgotten, they will promote you among the senior management team when you aren’t there. They can vouch for you. This will help in building a network for you in the upper regions of the organisation, and safeguard your reputation.
2. Informal support groups are also a great form of helping to fight discrimination and win. It has been used in women, racial, and sexual movements. Create your own with people in a similar situation. It is very useful in helping each other move forward, sharing ideas for hurdles, and celebrating your accomplishments together. Minority groups tend to have fewer workplace social ties and perceived co-worker support. These informal, career-based groups may help supplement the disadvantage you face at work.
3. Make a case for diversity targeting business, social and personal reasons. According to KPMG (2014) Winning hearts and minds, these were the three rationales for CEOs to want to achieve greater equality. Business reasons cover the need to reflect the client groups, and enrich the firm culture. Social reasons aligned to their values, human rights and giving back to society. Whilst personal reason concern their own experiences of being different and also being under the influence of other minorities. Use these to appeal in your firm to build a case for diversity, in your outer network, and to forge links. If not for you, then for future LGBTs.
There are of course many strategies, but these seemed the most vital. In the spirit of sharing, supporting and giving, it’ll be great if we can share your career strategies to support your fellow LGBT friends, colleagues, and family: #LGBTU (LGBT United).
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