Inclusivity and diversity: celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month at F7

Posted 24th February 2022
By Leona Barr-Jones

February is a very special month in the UK and at Focus7. Since 2005, this month has been dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK and raising awareness of, and combat prejudice against, LGBTQ+ people. 

We find this to be a great time to remind ourselves of the progress made both by our company and in the wider community while actively taking steps to insure EVERYONE feels safe and valued within our organisation

In celebration, we’ve decided to write a bit about how diversity and inclusivity is integral not only here at Focus7 International but in all work settings.

LGBTQ+ at Focus7 

As a gay-owned business, tolerance and inclusiveness were essentially built into the brand from the day that we started. Since our founding in 2015, we’ve worked hard to ensure that people from all walks of life have equal access to opportunities at the company.

“Diversity is being asked to the party.

Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Verna Myers, Author

Diversity in the workplace is not only good for employees; it’s good for business! The business case for diversity and inclusion is stronger than ever, McKinsey & Co studies find that diverse companies are more likely to financially outperform their peers.  Having diverse staff also enables companies to understand and meet the needs of clients from diverse perspectives while supporting positive relationships and communications. 

When leaders champion, cultivate and nurture inclusivity there are many positive outcomes. People feel included which leads them to giveing themselves fully for the shared goals of their team or organisation. This increased productivity results not only in monetary gain but also drives innovation – diverse teams have been shown time after time to outperform exclusionary ones when it comes down to long term outcomes, this is because they’re more creative when solving problems.

Embracing diversity and inclusion also allows companies to attract and retain staff in a time where there is significant competition for highly qualified employees. Stonewall, an LGBTQ+ rights charity in the United Kingdom, reported that  turnover of employees that identify themselves as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is considerably lower in organisations that are diverse and supportive. Studies have shown that retention is up to 50% higher in LGBTQ+ inclusive organisations. People want to work where they feel welcome and safe and 25% of LGBTQ individuals report staying in their jobs due to their work environment and the feeling of safety and inclusion.

The part we play as employers

Although LGBTQ+ History Month is undoubtedly a time for celebrating individuality and freedom to be our authentic selves, it is also here to raise awareness of historical and current challenges. Despite all the progress we have made as a society, members of the LGBTQ+ community still face many challenges both at work and in their public life.  

UK legislation for sexual orientation discrimination has been in place since 2003. The Equality Act 2010 makes it illegal to discriminate, harass or victimise an employee or colleague due to their sexual orientation. However, according to the CIPD report titled ‘Inclusion at Work: Perspectives on LGBTQ+ Working Life’ LGBT+ employees are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to face workplace conflict and harassment. 40% of LGBTQ+ employees and 55% of trans employees had experienced such conflict, compared to 29% of heterosexual employees. Data shows that discrimination has increased by 165% since 2015.

What this means is that we must all make concerted efforts to change toxic workplace behaviours which cause people to live in fear of being who they are, and actively work on developing greater understanding towards ALL individuals and their need for a safe working environment.  Inclusion is a journey, not a fixed destination, so set up systems and processes to encourage, support, protect and celebrate it. 

The Benefits of a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

The benefits of building a diverse and inclusive workplace:

  • Creative solutions

  • Attract and retain the best talent

  • Mirror diverse consumer base

  • Increase market share

  • Increase innovation

  • Allow individuals to be the best that they can be

How to be an Inclusive Leader

  • Develop awareness of your own bias

  • Be your authentic self

  • Be a Role Model & Mentor

  • Listen before Leading 

  • Encourage employees to speak up 

  • Create a safe environment for open and respectful communication 

  • Openly discuss the value of diversity, and diversity of thought, in achieving team goals

  • Add D&I to all your team meeting agendas

  • Bring inclusion to your recruitment and promotion processes and procedures

  • Establish metrics and hold yourself and others accountable

It is important that we at Focus7 have a forward-thinking business which prioritises both the teams that deliver consistently excellent work and the partnerships that have helped us establish ourselves. 

With that in mind we thank you for your continued support and wish you a good LGBTQ+ History month.

COO at Focus7

A successful business owner by age twenty, and with a varied 21-year military career including five years at the MoD on Whitehall, Leona has developed first class leadership and management skills. She has managed the successful implementation of major change programmes both in the UK and worldwide, including on behalf of Transport for London in collaboration with the 2012 Olympics. Leona is also IoD Director of the Year and a Fellow of IoD, CMI, InstLM.

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