EDI at Aquila

What does Pride mean for us at Aquila?

It’s important, as an inclusive organisation, we place the spotlight on Pride. Pride is about educating ourselves on LGBTQ+ history, and becoming aware of the issues that affect the community today. It is an opportunity to listen and learn from the LGBTQ+ community, celebrate, and most importantly to become an ally. Allyship contributes to us being an equal, diverse, and inclusive organisation.

Anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, can support LGBTQ+ people. An ally is someone who accepts LGBTQ+ people, and advocates for equal rights and fair treatment. They will confront the challenges that the community experience, believing that we face these problems in society, and is committed to voicing their support. In the workplace, being an ally means supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues to be their authentic selves, so we can work in a place that thrives on different perspectives and experiences.

You can become an ally to your colleagues by staying informed about LGBTQ+ news and issues, speaking up when you hear something offensive, be engaged and open with LGBTQ+ colleagues who are comfortable discussing the topic, support equality policies that protect LGBTQ+ colleagues from discrimination, and being proud of your allyship.

Reflections on Pride from colleagues at Aquila:

“Pride month to me is very important, and something that should be celebrated all over the world. It allows people like me in the LGBTQ+ community to showcase our history, celebrate love, acceptance, and pride for who we are. It also allows us to tell our history, whilst we’ve come leaps and bounds compared to even 10 years ago, there is still so much more to be done. There is still a lot of unwarranted discrimination to LGBTQ+ people and having true allyship from the companies we work for is one of the ways in which we can build a better future without prejudice. It’s not just a phase or a trend, it’s not a choice – it’s simply who we are”.

“Aquila take Pride seriously, with no rainbow washing. Aquila have proved that as a group they are an Ally, and are committed to learning, growing, developing, and protecting their employees – no matter what walk of life they come from. As a member of the community, I’m proud to celebrate Pride with Aquila”.

“The existence of Pride shows me that we live in a society capable of celebrating diversity and embracing positive change. It shows me that progress takes work, and is not guaranteed to be in one direction but it’s an example of what we can achieve together”.

Pride is important to me because it’s an event where I know I can relax and not have to think twice about what I’m doing and what people around me will think. Despite being out and very much proud about it for 10 years, I still often think twice about being affectionate with another woman unless I’m in an LGBTQIA+ space. This anxiety about actions and behaviours that shouldn’t be thought twice about, whether this is who you kiss, the way you dress, or the way you speak, is not unique to me but is something that a lot of people take for granted if they’ve never experienced it. I’ve been to Brighton, London, Leeds, Birmingham and Manchester Pride, yet in all of these cities, Brighton excepted, away from Pride I’ve either changed my behaviour because of my sexuality or received comments/looks because of it. At Pride, this doesn’t happen, it’s an event where I know I can be me, not only with no issues but with no stress about potential issues. My experiences of homophobia and lack of acceptance have been pretty minor, so if I see Pride as an invaluable safe space I can’t imagine how important it is to people who have experienced negativity and lack of acceptance closer to home”.

“I want to live in a world and work in an organisation where people can be truly open about who they are. I have read that now in the UK more than a third of LGBTQ+ people have kept their identity hidden at work for fear of discrimination. This is not ok. Pride is a time to celebrate outwardly and openly and ensure everyone feels accepted and respected. It reminds us how far we have come, but it is also a time of protest as we still have far to go”.

“Pride month is a really important part of ensuring that those within the LGBTQ+ community get to share their stories and feel proud within their own skin. The involvement of organisations across pride month is also integral to ensuring that voices are heard. We still have a long way to go as a society, but celebrating pride is certainly a step in the right direction”.

For all the joy and festivity, it’s easy to forget that Pride has its roots as a radical protest movement.  We have, for example, become used to seeing police officers take part in the celebrations.  Depending on your point of view, this can be read as either a sign of societal progress, cynical “rainbow-washing”, or historical irony – or all three.  The original purpose of Pride, of course, was to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969, in which members of New York City’s LGBTQ+ community stood up to police brutality and harassment.  This sort of homophobic state oppression remains all too common across the world today – something we should take a moment to consider while soaking up the carnival atmosphere.”

We all have a part to play

Everyone has the power to support an inclusive and equal working community. Aquila’s EDI group works to reinforce this. Getting to know your staff and colleagues will help ensure you effectively cater to any needs LGBTQ+ employees may have.

Watch a video on our work to be an inclusive organisation here.

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