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Pride in Practice challenges employers to improve inclusion

2015 12 01 PrideInPracticeWeb

The annual Pride in Practice conference is stimulating private and public sector employers alike to think hard about improving LGBTI inclusive policy and practice.

Held over three days, from 30 Nov to 2 Dec, attendees at the Pride in Practice conference hosted by Pride in Diversity gained a substantial knowledge boost by hearing about best practice LGBTI workforce inclusion by senior executives from leading companies and the public sector.

A number of DEFGLIS members attended the conference where personnel from Diversity Directorate in Defence People Group presented about how Defence - a conservative organisation - is positioning itself to be an LGBTI employer of choice.

Defence presented at the conference on strategies and initiatives that are positively impacting LGBTI inclusion and Defence capability.

Officer Cadet Patrick Lockyer who is in his second year at the Australian Defence Force Academy spoke his own journey of self discovery in the Australian Defence Force: first as a soldier, and now as an officer in training.

Lockyer said that it was important to tell individual stories of LGBTI personnel in Defence because it helps to raise visibility and awareness of LGBTI people, ultimately contributing to greater workplace inclusion by putting a face to diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Mental toughness is a useful skill in Defence to enable you to press through the hurtful comments you may hear and do something about it," said Lockyer.

"It's important because it means confronting people you may otherwise find intimidating and letting them know their behaviour is not acceptable."

Stuart O'Brien, DEFGLIS board member and LGBTI adviser to the Chief of Navy said that one of the key themes this year explores the often forgotten "B" in LGBTI, inclusion practice, what respect and the importance of non-LGBTI allies.

"Biphobia is of great concern given that some of it comes from within the lesbian, gay and transgender communities," said O'Brien

"Bisexual people often feel isolated and choose to not reveal their bisexuality in order to blend in with either straight or gay friends."

Inclusion advocates, educators and executives should be aware of the nature of bisexuality and should be cautious about making assumptions about a person's sexual orientation based on the gender of their partner.

In order to be more inclusive of bisexuality one needs to be able to accept that a person's sexual orientation is on a spectrum and that a person can be sexually attracted to multiple sexes. Community norms, expectations and stigma can make this quite challenging in practice.

Department of Defence was recognised along with the Australian Federal Police as being the top public sector employer of LGBTI people at the Australian Workplace Equality Index 2015 awards.

More info: http://www.prideinpractice.com.au

Image by Department of Defence of Defence personnel at the Pride in Practice Conference in Sydney December 2015

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