Recently almost 150 G.A.Y. * luminaries wrote to a number of businesses and organisations asking them to come out publicly in support of Safe Schools. The response was less than stellar: only Lush Cosmetics and job search website Seek did so. Everyone else shied away from directly commenting, or said nothing at all.
Among the organisations approached was Pride In Diversity, “Australia’s first and only national not-for-profit employer support program for all aspects of LGBTI workplace inclusion. A social inclusion initiative of ACON, Pride in Diversity are specialists in HR, organisational change and workplace diversity dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTI people by reducing exclusion, invisibility, homophobia and stigma in the workplace.”
They belatedly came up with a rather coy response: they would not directly endorse Safe Schools, claiming it was outside their remit. Director, ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs Dawn Hough explains:
As you may know, Pride in Diversity – Australia’s LGBTI workplace inclusion program – is primarily designed to assist and support member organisations to improve their internal Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion policies, practices and processes.
We take inclusion programs such as Safe Schools very seriously and consider them to be fundamental to an overall progression of social inclusion advances in Australia.
The Pride in Diversity program largely focusses on creating inclusive and safe workplace cultures within not only our member organisations, but others who express a desire to improve their LGBTI inclusionary practices. As Pride in Diversity is a non-profit, and has an internal focus with its members, it does not take an advocacy approach as part of its delivery of member services.
However, some Pride in Diversity members do already speak out on issues they feel are important to them in the LGBTI diversity and social inclusion space, including on marriage equality, safe schools, etc. For some of them, they have previously faced some considerable backlash over this.
Which rather convoluted reasoning seems to mean that, although many of their clients support initiatives like Safe Schools (and weather significant backlash for doing so), and although Pride in Diversity itself takes program such as Safe Schools “very seriously”, they don’t want to risk any backlash against themselves.
Let’s hope that they not only stand behind member companies taking a public stand for diversity and inclusion, but also actively encourage those companies to take a stand in the first place.
* G.A.Y. = Good As You (the acronym formerly known as LGBTIQQ2A etc)