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Westpac GLOBAL hosts Pride in Diversity Networking Event in Sydney

Michael KirbyBy David Brook

Stuart O’Brien, David Brook and partner Finely Bock attended the latest Pride in Diversity networking event, held in Sydney CBD by the GLOBAL group at Westpac. 

GLOBAL is a relatively new initiative taken on by Westpac, to support its LGBTI employees, and videos of the most recent event are available via YouTube.

The keynote speaker at the conference was the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, former High Court Justice. Through his usual style of blunt wit, he amused the audience candidly speaking of his experiences dealing with Westpac over the past 45 years, and his desire to see GLOBAL advance further, achieve greater goals, with longer term commitments taken on by senior Westpac Executive Officers. He also spoke about the necessity to challenge the status quo, stating that they (the heterosexual population) have had it too easy for too long, brushing aside LGBTI people and ignoring their needs. 

Kirby challenged the thought of the requirement for assimilation, the requirement to accept the common “second class citizenship” which has for so long been the norm for our community. “The gay issue is not a minority issue”, he said. “It’s everyone’s issue.” Kirby reinforced the idea that equality is something to aspire towards and is an attainable goal.  It shouldn’t be considered to be a ‘dream-like’ futuristic reality that will never come.  Ignoring the issue would be tantamount to accepting the status-quo.

Following the keynote address, a panel was formed with Michael Kirby; Tony Fiddes, GM Group People Capability; Sara Anderson, Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer at RAMS Financial; and Dean Field, Customer Service Specialist, Warnambool, Bank of Melbourne.

During the panel discussion, the theme that that regardless of whether you are a serving member or a civilian working in a civilian organisation, irrespective of your political outlook, there are GLBTI issues and concerns that must be addressed to get the most out of your workforce. To address these respectfully and openly in the workplace enables the issues to see the light of day; ignoring those concerns, invites general society to do the same. 

Tony Fiddes spoke of Westpac dedication towards GLOBAL, and the broader GLBTI community. Sara Anderson spoke openly of her experiences as a transgender MtF employee, with her experiences to date; and Dean Field, of his experiences growing up in a very small community in Victoria and some of the hurdles to overcome as a young gay man in modern day rural Australia.

Following the panel vetting some short questions from the audience, the short forum was over to proceed for a social meet and greet with the opportunity for a book-signing of Michael Kirby with a collection of his books.

Pride in Diversity is a not-for-profit network program recognising the GLBTI community working within organisations. Through ongoing support, Pride in Diversity is established in order to raise awareness of the needs of the GLBTI community, along with the networking capability to form a strong support network by GLBTI people, for GLBTI people. Department of Defence is a proud supporter and founding member of this broad-based inclusive organisation.

Earlier this year, DEFGLIS members Vince Chong and Brandon King attended a Pride in Diversity function in Melbourne hosted by Goldman Sachs, and listened to heard key note speaker Olympian Daniel Kowalski talk about his struggle with sexuality in macho culture of elite sports.

DEFGLIS could host similar functions, and ideas are sought for consideration for us to host a similar event. If you do have any ideas, put them forward to your board members or local representatives. Together, we can show the Department of Defence as an employer of choice, and dispel some common myths of the nature of our work environment.

YouTube Videos

Westpac version: http://youtu.be/Cgjq4kRCxvA 

Shorter version: http://youtu.be/lzP5HF-4Ssg