As Capgemini celebrates our diversity during our People Culture Week, guest blogger Richard Cartwright observes the differing rights and expectations of LGBT people around the world.
On Saturday 22nd February I attended a graduate recruitment fair on behalf of Capgemini at National Student Pride at the University of Westminster in London. The event hosted around 1200 LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) students from 108 UK universities and colleges, and by the end of the day my croaky voice and achy feet would attest that I spoke to a good chunk of them, trying to convince them that a life as a Capgemini Management or Technology consultant was the life for them.
Many people, LGBT or not, have told me they are confused as to the purpose of pride events “in this day and age”. Certainly some of my straight colleagues who’d not attended a pride event before were a bit confused when some nice middle aged ladies handed them condoms as a shirtless man wandered by with an advert painted on his bare chest. There is supposed to be a point to all the frivolity of course, and good pride events make sure that revellers attending leave not only with plenty of prophylactics but also with poignant messages about LGBT issues beyond the pride bubble. That might be sexual health, or politics, or human rights - because “in this day and age”, right at this moment, many countries are passing retrogressive legislation that will lead to the discrimination, vilification and abuse of LGBT people, just because of their sexuality..
In the UK – as in many countries – the young people attending such recruitment fairs would have an absolute and assumed expectation (not to mention a legal right) to be treated equally with their straight colleagues. They don’t (or shouldn’t) have to contemplate the indignity of silently colluding with the homophobia of their peers and managers so that they could be accepted. Sadly, in countries such as Russia, Uganda, India and others, that is increasingly not the case; LGBT people are being denied the opportunity to flourish and fully contribute to their companies, countries and broader society.
At the event I briefly had an opportunity to meet one of my heroes, the doyen of diversity, Peter Tatchell. He’s spent over 20 years fighting for LGBT rights in the UK and worldwide, including attempts to perform a citizen’s arrest on Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in 1999 and again in 2001. Tatchell is a much criticised character because of some the tactics he'sdeployed, but I staunchly believe that evil prospers when good men do nothing, and I'm thankful that Peter and people like him have paved the way for people to be able to live their lives authentically.
Capgemini UK is part of the Diversity Champions programme at Stonewall, an organisation that champions gay rights. Stonewall has a slogan that "people perform better when they can be themselves", and I strongly believe that by living the Capgemini values - being bold, being honest - can enable us to be ourselves, and enable those around us to be themselves too.
Guest blogger, Richard Cartwright, joined Capgemini in 2004 on a graduate recruitment programme. He has worked across multiple public and private sector accounts in first technical, then Project & Programme management roles. Richard currently works for a central government client managing large software and infrastructure projects. He also helps to run Capgemini’s LGBT Staff Network, OUTfront.