I train people from all walks of life, across a variety of sectors, about the importance of tolerance, inclusion and diversity in the workplace. I am normally impressed by how ready people are to embrace the ideas I share with them. Yet... it is clear that the day-to-day reality for many can be somewhat different.
Latest research from the British LGBT Awards shows that 73% of lesbian and bisexual women don't feel comfortable revealing their sexuality at work. As a gay man, I understand what this feels like. The fear of being judged solely on your sexuality, the fear of being viewed or treated differently by the people around you, the fear of not being accepted for who you are. If you operate in an environment where your emotional responses are largely being driven by fear, it goes without saying that you will not be able to do your best work. I am very lucky to work in an organisation that embraces me for who I am; I am surrounded by people who understand that my sexuality is just one part of who I am - it does not define me. I cannot tell you how important this is to me.
I therefore have a vested interest when I talk to people about tolerance, inclusion and diversity in the workplace - it is my passion for very personal reasons. My view is that there is no place for intolerance in the workplace - we should all be able to accept and embrace diversity and make more effort to ensure that all of our colleagues are fully included (and are allowed to be themselves). People simply need to talk more about these things in the workplace, to better understand differences. People need to demonstrate to one another that they are prepared to be open-minded, that they will not judge unfairly, that they will accept their colleagues for who they are - no matter how different they might be. It's not always easy but we have to try - after all tolerance, inclusion and diversity in the workplace is no joke - it is very real and very important.