Queer Identity In The Workplace

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develop recently hosted a Queer Identity In The Workplace webinar with Colt Technology Services, and we were joined by five panellists from Lloyds Banking Group, EPAM Systems, AND Digital, and Colt. 

83% of Gen Z candidates said that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is important when choosing an employer. Now more than ever, people want to see a strong commitment to DEI. 

For those entering the workplace, this can be a scary and intimidating place to be for everyone, regardless of whether you may have a slight difference about you that sways away from societal norms. 

It’s been found that employees who can bring their true authentic selves to work are more productive and engaged. We’ve highlighted some of the advice from our panellists in today’s blog to provide some help to those of you entering the world of work, and how you can navigate the workplace in a way that’s comfortable for you. 

Let’s start at the beginning, before you start a new role you’ve probably researched the company, its DEI statements, their initiatives, and if they have any employee resource groups (ERG’s). When you start interviewing, you’ll also pick up on their opinions and whether they are actually committed to DEI, or whether they’re just statements. One thing that makes a company instantly more inclusive is by displaying personal pronouns in Zoom or Microsoft Team names; it allows the interviewee to know from your initial meeting that you are a safe space and opens your company to everyone. 

You’ve had your interviews; you’ve signed your contract and it’s now your first day. You’re nervous as to what your new role, new company, and new people have in store. You want to join a company being authentically you from day one, but where do you start. One piece of advice shared by Neil Cotrell, Data Centre Project Manager, Colt Technology Services, “start small, and only do what you’re comfortable with”. When he was starting out in the working world, he wore a small rainbow wristband; this subtle sign started a conversation with colleagues but also signposted that he was a safe space for people in the community. 

Tamsin May, Java Consultant, develop, also added that everyone becomes themselves at work in their own way, and at their own pace. Introducing indirect ways to let people know things about you is a good way to gradually amplify who you are in the workplace. 

It’s important to also take a step back and think about why you joined a business and why you work there. You’re there for your skills, you add value to the company; you’re not at a company for one of your diversity traits. You’ve earned your place, regardless of your identity so never feel pressured into disclosing more about yourself than you’re ready to. 

Something else that impacts a person’s ability to be themselves at work is intersectionality. Intersectionality affects everyone, humans cannot be defined by one single category. The privilege to be yourself at work is incredibly dependent. Chris Howard, Open-Source Lead, EPAM Systems, highlighted what a luxury being able to be your authentic self is. It’s easier for some people within the community, compared to others due to a range of factors to be themselves, for example, seniority or race. 

Symreen Kang, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist, echo’s the importance of how intersectionality impacts someone’s ability to be themselves. “Diversity is everyone being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to plan the party. Equity is about being invited and making sure that everyone can attend. And belonging is feeling comfortable.”

develop are continuously looking at ways to improve our business, and we’re passionate about making all aspects of our business diverse and inclusive. If you want us to read our guide to diverse and inclusive hiring – send me a message! We’d love to help.

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