IDAHOBIT – What’s it all about?
Posted: 17th May 2018
International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
IDAHOBIT, which stands for International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism, and Transphobia is observed each year on the 17th May to celebrate gender diversities across the world and raise awareness of the challenges and discrimination experienced by those who identify as LGBTQ+. To mark IDAHOBIT, Nate Burnikell, Trustee for Centric Community Projects, shares his thoughts on IDAHOBIT and what we can all be doing to increase LGBTQ+ inclusivity and awareness.
IDAHOBIT is a day that I only became aware of in the last couple of years but have since always tried to mark the day and spend a bit of time musing over what the day represents. For me, as a bisexual man, it is about reflecting on my journey – which I am still treading – to find confidence and acceptance in my sexuality, but also taking a look at how I support other LGBTQ+ individuals in my life, whether they are colleagues, friends, or family.
I have been lucky in my life to have felt welcome and accepted as an out bisexual man in the majority of companies that I have worked with or for. That said, IDAHOBIT always reminds me to look beyond myself and accept that this acceptance is likely in part due to the kind of work I am doing and the fact that I am a white, cisgender man. I think it is very important to not become complacent when we feel included as individuals, or if a workplace on the surface looks inclusive. Instead, we should continue to look beyond just our own safety and see where there are inequalities for more marginalised groups within the community or where individual colleagues may feel less welcome than others. It is the job of all of us to continue to push for inclusive workspaces where all are welcome, and IDAHOBIT is a good chance to sit back and look and what has been done and what there is left to do in our social circles and workplaces.
Based on my previous experience engaging with workplace LGBTQ+ networks and running a number of other LGBT social products, here are three easy first steps to take to try and ensure that you are at the wheel of an inclusive workspace:
Educate Yourself (and your staff)
There are lots of steps that you can take to ensure that you and those around you are educated on all things LGBTQ+. You can start easy, by learning the full breadth of the LGBTQ Spectrum, as well as some common definitions, or reading inclusion guides published by organisations like Stonewall.
If you’re wanting to go bigger, why not organise team teach-ins to raise awareness, or organise for some external training for your staff? There is no better substitute for well-informed, engaged staff.
Update your workplace policies
Take the time to look through your organisations HR policies to ensure that they are LGBTQ+ inclusive. There are some obvious things to do here, like ensuring your parental leave, adoption leave, and compassionate care leave are inclusive of your LGBT staff. This is actually a requirement under the Equality Act 2010, so your organisation should be doing this. However, what is not as obvious is ensuring that this support is obvious within the language of your documents and demonstrates clear support for your LGBT policies. Some key things to keep an eye out for:
- Not assuming your employees gender, their partners gender, or the gender-balance of a couple. For example, avoid “you may split parental leave equally between the mother and father of the child…” and instead opt for gender neutral terms.
- Make sure that terms such as ‘parent’, ‘spouse’ or ‘partner’ are clearly defined and that these definitions include LGBT staff.
- Avoid referencing ‘two genders’ or ‘men and women’, as this is not inclusive of non-binary identifies. Instead opt for things like ‘all genders’, which better encompass the full spectrum.
- Ensure that commitment to battling bullying & discrimination explicitly mentions your LGBTQ+ staff.
- Put a policy into place to support staff who may wish to transition whilst at your company. Stonewall has a good example of how to do this.
Be vocal about your support of the LGBT community
The best thing about this one is you can choose how far you go with this. All that is important is that it is clear to your organisations employees, clients, and partners, that you can have a commitment to LGBTQ+ equality. Some ideas to get you started:
- Rainbow lanyards
- Email signatures
- Dedicated LGBT organisation champion
- A public allies programme
- Regular all-staff communications
- Intranet posts
- Social media engagement with LGBT campaigns.
I think this is the easiest and the most fun of the three, but to have anything to shout about you must first put in the work to make it worthwhile. Nothing feels better than shining a spotlight on the hard work your organisation has done to promote the diversity and inclusion of your LGBTQ+ staff and stakeholders.