05 May 2021
Support your colleagues to create an LGBT inclusive workplace
19 Oct 2020 | Dan Makin
As part of BVA’s work on #GoodWorkplaces, Dan Makin, Past-President of BVLGBT+, explains how you can help LGBT colleagues feel supported and why it is so important to do so.
During such challenging times there has never been a more critical moment for our profession to stand united and continue to work to support one another. BVA recently published their policy position on good veterinary workplaces, which details the need for all practices to make sure that they offer a ‘Good Veterinary Workplace’ and the resources to achieve this. It is hoped that this will allow the profession to push forward with some of the great work that is already under way to encourage and embrace equality, diversity, and inclusion within our profession.
As a member of the British Veterinary LGBT+ group, I am aware of the challenges still faced by many of our members (students, nurses, and vets) during their day-to-day work or studies. It’s clear that over the years society as a whole has become more tolerant and accepting of the LGBT+ community, and whilst significant challenges and obstacles are still being placed in our path, the world does generally have a warmer welcome for its LGBT+ citizens.
Sadly, there are still many LGBT+ vets, nurses, and students who are not comfortable with being open about their sexuality, and this can all too often have a negative effect on that individual’s mental health and well-being. Combined with the pressures from the day to day challenges we all face in our professional lives, this can have a significant impact on LGBT colleagues’ wellbeing. It’s clear that an individual’s performance and behaviour can be severely affected if they work in an environment where they are unable to be their full self at work.
How you can help
As colleagues and friends, we should never look to pressurise someone we suspect of hiding their sexuality to ‘come out’. Instead, it is vital that veterinary workplaces, universities, and colleges are able to provide an environment where all individuals feel safe and that they can or will be able to be their full selves at work/college when they are ready. We should look to create a workplace culture that is open, safe and accepting. It is only by doing this can we expect all our colleagues to truly be themselves at work and contribute fully to the team dynamic.
No one expects their colleagues to know the answers to all their concerns, worries or fears, but having some understanding of the issues can be extremely helpful. There are plenty of resources and support available to help individuals who want to know how to help LGBT+ colleagues. Stonewall form the foundation of LGBT support and have a vast array of online advice and support literature available.. The simple act of listening in an unconditional way may be all that is needed. The most important thing you can do is to make sure your colleague knows that they are not alone, so this basic act can make a huge difference whilst the appropriate support is found.
Remember, we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. Those words may sound grand, but even the smallest gesture can make a difference to someone who is struggling; a cup of coffee and a catch up, having interest in what they did over the weekend or simply by putting up a pride flag. It’s our everyday actions which will create the supportive and inclusive culture that every good workplace needs.
For more information and helpful resources, read the BVA good veterinary workplaces policy position
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