Every year, throughout the month of June, the world celebrates Pride – a movement that promotes the dignity, rights and self-affirmation of the LGBTQ+ community.
The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association lists more than 170 events held worldwide in June this year, and all of them were united in their goal: to raise awareness and support for the LGBTQ+ community. In the UK, Pride was an even greater event, as 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first official Pride march in the country.
Like many employers across the globe, RSK played its part in celebrating this vitally important calendar event with various activities throughout the month.
What is extra special is that 2022 is the first year RSK has celebrated Pride while having an established LGBTQ+ employee network, with events held to mark the occasion including a virtual quiz night and a Pride ‘get together’.
The employee network has also written, produced and published marketing material throughout the month that has included weekly social media posts about the history of Pride and Pride within the company.
They have also been busy making videos about Pride as well as sending out global emails explaining to RSK staff what the network does and how people can join as members or allies – an action that will continue all year round.
Dominic (Dom) Bebbington from the network said, “We are on a mission to ensure that RSK is a welcoming, inclusive and safe environment where its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community members can thrive, and that all voices in the LGBTQ+ community are heard and represented in the company.
Graeme Dunn, Principal Civil Engineer, described this year’s celebrations for RSK with Pride as “quite the learning curve” for the network’s committee but praised everyone involved. “Hopefully, the information we have put out has been informative as we continue to build the network and our support base,” he observed.
“Everyone involved has put in so much hard work, all of it undertaken in their own time while fulfilling their day jobs. I truly appreciate everyone’s efforts,” Graeme added.
As part of Pride 2022, several members of the RSK with Pride network shared their own personal experiences – each of them different, yet each equally powerful.
Here, Graeme Dunn speaks of his experience of coming out:
“Being LGTBQ+ means that you’re always wearing a mask. You do not always know what someone’s response is going to be, whether they are a family member, a friend, a colleague or a complete stranger.
“With strangers, it is easier to wear your mask. For example, when going to the barbers, the most common question I get asked is, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ I used to hate going for a haircut purely because of the anxiety of the small talk and having to lie. I lost count of the number of times I said ‘yes’ and made up an imaginary girlfriend, then felt guilty about it for the rest of the day.
“With friends and family, coming out happens more organically, and it may not happen all at once. It took me a period of over two years to come out to my friends and close family. Friends are easier than family, you can be light-hearted with them, and they tend to tease and be less serious about it.
“It also tends to be easier to come out to colleagues. But if someone at work is out to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are out to everyone. So, if someone does come out to you, don’t assume they’ve come out to everyone else. It means that they trust you, don’t treat them any differently, they will tell others in their own time. This is why allies in the workforce are so powerful; simple gestures such as having the RSK with Pride logo in your email signature can help people open up on a more personal level.
“Life is different for everyone, each of us has different life experiences, that’s what makes us all unique. Don’t feel pressured to come out and don’t pressure others to do the same. If anyone needs someone to talk to about coming out – at home, to friends, to colleagues – please get in touch with the RSK with Pride employee network who can offer support and guidance. There is a network and you’re not alone!”
An ally is someone who aligns with an individual or group for a common purpose. In the context of the LGBTQ+ community, it describes a person who does not identify as LGBTQ+ but who still supports the community and promotes rights and equality for all.
RSK Chief Financial Officer Abigail Draper is a founding member of the RSK Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Executive Sponsor of RSK with Pride.
She explains how she became an ally and how she uses her important role to facilitate positive action in ways that may otherwise be difficult to achieve.
“I was lucky to be brought up by very inclusive parents who demonstrated acceptance of diversity in all forms: race, gender, sexuality, neurodiversity, etc. As the eldest child, I often stood up for my younger siblings and, from this, I developed a strong sense of the importance of supporting others around me, especially marginalised people.
“Being a good ally is more than being accepting of one particular group of people. I think it is about acknowledging the varied, intersectional experiences people have of discrimination and using your voice and any power you have to support others. If you see injustice, try to step in and help if you are able.
“I have close family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community and I have seen how important it is for them to see representation and acknowledgement of themselves out in the world, including in the workplace. I want to help LGBTQ+ employees at RSK feel comfortable in bringing their whole selves to work and to amplify their voices in the workplace.”