At Gekko we are very proud that our team member, Katy, contributed without fear in this Manchester Evening News article talking about the Manchester Pride’s equality charter. It is important to us, as an equal opportunities employer, that Katy was able to speak out knowing that it would not affect her career at Gekko.
It’s a great article and we look forward to hearing more from Katy in the future.
Below is the full article including a link to the charter.
Why Manchester Pride’s equality charter – which will promote inclusion and safe spaces across Greater Manchester – is so needed
Manchester Pride’s work is at the forefront of public attention over the August bank holiday weekend, when thousands flock to the city for the Big Weekend festival and parade.
But away from the rainbow flags and the world-famous musicians, the work doesn’t stop.
One of Manchester Pride’s latest projects will see them launch an equality and inclusion charter, asking businesses across Greater Manchester to sign a pledge.
That pledge will mean they commit to promote equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ people, as well as other minority groups, and will provide a set of principles and values they will be expected to meet.
But why exactly is something like this – something promoting basic human right regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, age, social status – necessary?
We spoke to two attendees of one of Manchester Pride’s charter workshops to see what problems minorities face in the workplace.
Sally Carr MBE is the operational director for The Proud Trust, which runs youth groups, peer support, training, events and the LBGT Centre to support young people.
She said: “These days, everything is aggravated by mobile devices – it’s so easy to spread hate crimes and insults at the touch of a button.
“Legislation on the whole has changed to benefit LGBT+ people, but the experiences young people go through are still a problem.
“There’s definitely a fear of coming out in the workplaces. Sometimes the unsaid can speak volumes.
“Micro-aggressions can affect mental health but also physical health. There’s a condition called hypertension which leads to high bloody pressure and symptoms like grinding teeth, and it’s been proven that it affects LGBT and BAME people, and women, the most.
“That can’t be good for employers. If we want the best talent, and the best productivity, workplaces need to be inclusive and safe for everyone.
“It’s important to recognise that diversity and inclusion are not the same thing. Just because a company hires an LGBT+ person does not necessarily mean that they’re inclusive – they might not put minorities in senior positions and then minorities still don’t get a voice.
“Diversity just means people are more aware, it doesn’t necessarily mean that attitudes and behaviours will change. That’s the challenge.”
For many who have been lucky enough to not encounter discrimination, particularly in the workplace, it can be hard to understand the scale of the issues facing LGBTQ+ and other minority groups.
Katy Sessions, who works for marketing consultancy firm Gekko, told us: “It’s not something that ‘normative’ straight people worry about, truthfully.
“I myself have been really lucky that I’ve not experienced discrimination in the workplace. I didn’t have a difficult coming out story or any struggles.
“But I’m aware of really disgusting behaviour in some workplaces. Stereotyping, patronising behaviour.
“Because of my position, because I’ve never been rejected for who I am, I feel that I’m in quite a privileged position where I can speak out for others without fear.
“One major problem with inequality in the workplace is the lack of LGBT role models for young people to look up to. Growing up I didn’t have anyone to aspire to – I still don’t really.
“Young kids don’t see anyone like them that they can aspire to be like. Even when there are LGBT people in prominent positions they often don’t speak publicly about their sexual identities, especially in certain industries like sport.
“I know of someone who works in Manchester who has avoided telling people at work that she’s gay, for fear of how it will affect her career.
“Where are the role models for kids? David Isaac [chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission] is one of the only clear examples I can think of.”
Katy, who volunteered at a youth centre in her 20s, hopes that the equality charter will provide safe spaces for all people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations.
Once Greater Manchester businesses feel safer to minorities, they are more likely to be open and honest with their situations, and that could slowly but surely change the experiences of future generations.
“I hope the charter will do a few things,” she said. “I want it to provide safe spaces. To encourage positive role modelling for younger people who are different to the majority of their peers. I want young people to feel like they have permission to aspire to bigger things.
“Creating a truly diverse and inclusive city is a long process, and this charter won’t be the answer for everything. But it’s a start, it’s a step in the right direction.”
You can find the full article in Manchester Evening News here.
You can find out more about Manchester Pride’s charter here .