Vicky Hayden, Romain Mancinelli-Mirti, Michael Fox, Stonewall Rhys Shegar-Astoralli and Andrea Dermody are seen during a panel talk launching the Luxembourg Professional LGBT & Allies, held at State Street Bank in Kirchberg, 21 May 2018. Staff photo
To celebrate Diversity Day, corporate leaders unveiled a new organisation called Luxembourg Professional LGBT & Allies, during an LGBT+ workplace conference. The objective was to explain how to collectively influence and drive change here in Luxembourg.
The outfit, also known as LGBT+ Allies, already counts 20 corporate and 45 individual members from across Luxembourg. The group said it was formed last year because there is still a long way before completely eradicating discrimination and prejudice against the LGBT+ community.
Discriminatory laws, such as the requirement for transsexuals to undergo sterilisation before allowing them to change their name and gender on legal documents, still exist today in 22 European countries, including Luxembourg.
The group aims to create a professional body of people identifying as being LGBT+ to collectively work together.
During the event, held on Thursday, speakers shared their personal experience and recommendations during a discussion panel on “How far have companies and society come in creating diverse & inclusive workplaces--what specifically has worked and why? And to the future, what more can organisations, LGBT+ and Allies do to create and maintain an equal playing field.”
They discussed three key pillars to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces: engagement, education and awareness, and empowerment. The group’s agenda will address the three fields over the next 12 months.
Starting a conversation
Visible, inclusive, open-minded, together. Those few words were repeated frequently during the panel discussion. Some of the solutions proposed by the speakers were to make diversity information available to everybody, hosting LGBT events and creating a one-to-one coaching for senior executives.
In addition, “do not assume everyone is straight. Do not ask ‘have you got a girlfriend/wife?’ but rather use the term ‘partner’, and broad pronouns,” said Mancinelli-Mirti.
Simply being seen as supporting the LGBT+ community can be a positive step, because “the best intentions are important,” said Dermondy. Firms also have to be visible in their own way by, for example, flying the LGBT+ flag, organising events, etc., and to start a conversation. “People underestimate the power of starting a conversation,” explained Dermondy.
Visibility is important
Mancinelli-Mirti told Delano, following the panel, how Luxembourg supports the LGBT+ community through the Diversity Charter for “corporations that want to promote diversity between men and women and LGBT rights,” he explained. Visibility is important, notably with the very visible wedding of Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel. Mancinelli-Mirti also stressed that LGBT+ Allies was available to “support corporates with trainings and knowledge.”
It is not only up to allies and the HR department to fight discrimination, one panellist argued. It is also the board’s responsibility. And LGBT+ individuals need to be honest with their colleagues. Fox explained that working in a company where people are accepted for who they are is good for business, by allowing staff to take better decisions. He added that “hiding who we are has a direct impact on service that we provide.”
Luxembourg Professional LGBT & Allies will start up operations later this month.
“Show support and show that it’s OK for yourself that the other one is gay. Wear the rainbow and come to pride!” concluded Mancinelli-Mirti.