Human Made’s Head of People Operations Tom Chute and CEO Tom Willmot share some rainbow-coloured initiatives we’ve been working on behind the scenes, all inspired by a single, powerful talk at a recent WordCamp.
The clue is in the name: here at Human Made, we’re all about people. We firmly believe in celebrating diversity and fostering an inclusive environment for all, but we’re awake to the fact that some communities need more support than others to enjoy a safe and equitable working environment. Ensuring inclusivity for LGBTQIA+ folks is one area that remains a focus.
Sadly, data shows that LGBTQIA+ individuals still face unique challenges at work: four in 10 LGBTQIA+ employees surveyed for a recent study from Deloitte said that their employer failed to demonstrate a commitment to LGBTQIA+ inclusion internally or externally, and less than half feel comfortable being ‘out’ about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work.
If that wasn’t enough to contend with, consider this: around a third of all countries in the world still legislate against LGBTQIA+ people in some way. If you identify as LGBTQIA+ and work an international company with clients and partners around the world, the truth is that you’re at risk of encountering prejudice.
The rainbow spark that lit the fire
In STEM subjects, and within the tech industry especially, we all know there’s more work to be done to level the playing field and ensure equal representation and inclusion among diverse groups of people.
Human Made Senior Engineer Kirsty Burgoine addressed exactly this issue in her recent talk at WordCamp Whitley Bay, Over the Rainbow – Inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ Community in WordPress.
Her talk shed light on the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals in the tech sector, and WordPress in particular.
For those who missed it, we highly recommend you check it out below. This powerful, personal session was an eye-opener for those of us lucky enough to be there in person, and it served as a real wake up call.
Among many other poignant statistics and anecdotal evidence of the gap between where we are where we’d like to be, Kirsty’s research showed that the search term ‘LGBT’ showed just six video results on WordPress.tv: it was an effective example to make Kirsty’s point about the relative invisibility of LGBTQIA+ community.
Here at Human Made, we’ve always had firm commitments to diversity and inclusion as part of our company policies, but by speaking up, Kirsty helped us recognise that assuming everyone knows we’re welcoming to all isn’t enough – we’ve got to shout about it. And that’s why we’re taking proactive steps to do better.
LGBTQIA+ inclusivity: internal steps for external change
The first step we took followed Kirsty’s playbook – be louder and prouder. We’ve updated our Careers page to reflect our commitment to welcoming individuals from all walks of life, with a specific section on our stance about LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
There was already a general inclusivity Slack channel at HM, but we’ve now also established a dedicated LGBTQIA+ channel. The hope is that by offering a safe and supportive space for advice, suggestions, and conversations within our team, we can better hone in on the positives, negatives, and opportunities for improvement in the LGBTQIA+ experience at HM.
Refreshing our open company Handbook
You might already know that we share the HM Handbook openly: most of its pages are publicly accessible. Although we had an existing page on LGBTQIA+ issues, we agreed it could work harder as a resource for LGBTQIA+ folks and allies alike.
We’ve carefully crafted this new resource to be beneficial for everyone at Human Made and beyond; whether you want to learn more about the LGBTQIA+ experience, seek support, or simply find a starting point for developing your own LGBTQIA+ policies, it’s worth taking a peek.
The new page is a compilation of guidelines, support mechanisms, and best practices that we hope will inspire and guide other organisations in their inclusivity efforts. You can explore this resource here: feel free to dive in and use what’s useful.
What’s next? More conversation, more action
The steps we’ve taken so far are a small start, but our commitment doesn’t stop here. We’re continuously seeking feedback, ideas, and best practices from our team and the broader community.
As well as running our own internal research and improvement initiatives, we’re very much open to suggestions. Learning from others, sharing our experiences, and being receptive to growth opportunities are just some of the ways we can all begin to foster a more inclusive tech environment. If you have suggestions or resources that could help us and others improve, we’re all ears. Please reach out and let us know!
The journey towards full inclusivity is ongoing, and every step counts. We invite you to join us in this endeavour, whether by adopting practices from our Handbook, initiating conversations in your workplace, or simply being an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community.
Together, we can create a tech industry that really does reflect the diversity and strength of the amazing folks we work alongside every day.