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Pride is for life, not just for June

Our ‘beyond Pride’ advocacy continues with this Q&A between our Senior Legal Counsel, Peter Wozny, and Social Media Manager, Andrea McVeigh.

LGBT+ Pride Flag

Each June, Pride month shines a spotlight on the LGBT+ community globally. But at BTV, Pride is more than a month: it’s a year-round, lifelong commitment to achieving change. That’s why we advocate ‘beyond Pride’ month.

Today we’re talking about LGBT+ experiences and allyship in the workplace. Here, Peter discusses with Andrea his experiences and suggests ways that companies and colleagues can work together to create an environment that allows everyone to thrive, every day.


"Hi Peter, let’s start with a big question. Do corporates have a moral duty to call out homophobia and transphobia?"


"Yes. They do need to call these things out and support LGBT+ individuals in the workplace, especially on the international scene. If a corporate has offices abroad, they should be supporting LGBT+ employees the same way they support them everywhere else. But you also have to be sensitive to the existing cultures and laws that exist in those places. Change takes time, it won’t happen overnight."


"What can non-LGBT+ colleagues do? What makes a good ally?"


"Stonewall hits the nail on the head when it comes to what makes a good ally. There are five key points: 1) Familiarise yourself with the language; 2) Educate yourself on the history of LGBT activism; 3) Discover the challenges facing the LGBT+community; 4) Get involved in the community and show your support; and 5) Stand up for what you believe in. You can read the full article on allyship."


"What’s been the main workplace experience that sticks in your mind, in terms of how you overcame difficult circumstances, and the role your employers and colleagues played in this?"


"About 10 years ago, before I joined BTV, I was given a secondment with a law firm in Moscow for six months. I’d never been to Moscow and I didn't speak the language but I decided, why not? At that time, I hadn't come out to my Russian colleagues because it was not a cultural norm to do so. But when one of my friends was targeted and violently attacked when walking home from a gay nightclub, I began to feel unsafe. I was on the verge of deciding to move back to London. But then I thought, is there a way my employers can help me?"

Peter continues

"So I spoke with them and they ended up building a support network for me, not only from HQ back in London and the global LGBT+ employee network, but also reaching out to some of my Russian colleagues in Moscow to support me as allies. As my confidence grew, I came out to the office and started setting up events for the LGBT+ network there. Other colleagues started coming out as well, and some ended up supporting me in the mini network I built. Six months soon turned into three years and I absolutely adored my time in Moscow. It certainly ended up changing my life for the better. Having international corporations across the globe helps to support and protect individuals who are LGBT+, while helping to eliminate the biases against them. It educates those who are not LGBT+ in those principles. And that's slowly helping people evolve, making certain countries more progressive."

Talk between Peter Wozny and Andrea McVeigh


"What sort of things can be organised in the workplace to help educate others?"


"Making sure there's training offered throughout the year with employees at all levels is important. So is looking at things like micro-aggressions; unconscious bias and pronoun awareness, for example. It’s also important to ensure these training events aren’t just one-offs, but are repeated on a regular basis, because people come and go from the company and those who stay sometimes need to be reminded. Things also change a lot, and the language and ways we talk about the LGBT+ community is always being refreshed. If you look at how the term LGBT+ has changed over the years, and the different LGBTQI+ endings, it gets quite confusing, even for me. My other key takeaways are that it's important for there to be doers in the company, people who push the agenda forward, and for there to be support from the top, whether that’s giving a budget to employee network groups; leading events, or just acting as role models for the company."


"How important is it to give back outside of work?"


"If you have time to do it, then do it. I work with a couple of charities. One of them is LIFE beat, which works with the Gen Z population in the UK – young people from really disadvantaged backgrounds – and helps them get back into education, or work, and find a place for themselves in life. I also work with the National HIV Story Trust. It focuses on the LGBT+community, and helps people learn lessons from the HIV crisis in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s important to make sure we don't forget what happened."


"Finally, what’s the one practical thing that could make a big difference in the workplace?"


"For me, it would be focusing on senior leadership and pushing change. For example, a reverse mentorship program, with people from diverse communities and in more junior positions in the company, mentoring their seniors in race, ethnicity, gender, sex, pronouns etc. This would also help build the relationship between senior and junior levels, which in itself leads to change."


"Inspiring words! Thanks for being such a committed doer in the workplace and for giving us all so much to think about ‘beyond Pride’."

Written by
Andrea McVeigh
Social Media Manager
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