When I originally founded OUTfront back in 2009 I was keen to host an awareness raising conference for work, but as the every day job of improving the lot of Capgemini’s LGBT community expanded, that specific desire, slipped to the bottom of my to do list. We did indeed steadily expand and increase in size, and with all the good works, moved up the external recognition listings on the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.
In the middle of last year I started to speak to a member an external network, and we both discussed trying to work more closely together and now we’re just over a week away from our inaugural LGBT Conference: Active Inclusion for Allies and LGBT Colleagues, we have 200 attendees coming from all ends of the country – and I couldn’t be more…what?
Well I’m excited. IDAHOT’s theme this year is families so with this in mind, we have invited a variety of speakers with a family focus. We have such excellent speakers presenting, who I’m excited to hear, but I’m almost more excited to present for my colleagues to hear. First up is Matt Mahmood-Ogston, from the Naz and Matt Foundation. (https://www.nazandmattfoundation.org/)
Matt has such an enormously moving, and truly tragic, story, out of which he has created a wonderful charity which works with LGBT people who are struggling with acceptance within their families, especially when related to religious extremism.
As an introduction to LGBT issues it’s a very dark and inspiring story so we are then going to go into breakout working groups to discuss why people struggle to come out at work, what issues they may face, and why this is still a topic needing discussing in 2017.
After lunch we are hosting a panel discussion focusing on families, lead by the P3 Network (www.thep3network.com) P3 – Proud. Professional. Parents are a ‘not for profit organisation’ focusing on LGBT parents and will be discussing all that that entails, again what is different, what needs consideration, and very importantly what is the same! P3 are leading the panel discussions with members of their network and members of FFLAG – Friends and Family of Lesbians And Gays (www.fflag.org.uk) alongside Sarah Hagger-Holt, who, with her wife, has recently written a guide to LGBT Parenting called Pride & Joy www.prideandjoybook.wordpress.com . This looks to be a really interesting session which should involve all attendees, LGBT or not – after all, we all have parents!
For the second breakout sessions we wanted to focus on action looking at what we can do to improve the lives of our LGBT colleagues. What are some actions? What is that one simple thing we can each do?
To close the day, we have Christine Burns, MBE, who was awarded her MBE for her work representing transgender people. As an experienced IT consultant, Christine has a wealth of knowledge and experience and brings the day to resounding close by focusing on transitioning at work.
I’m also anxious! What if no one comes? What if the power doesn’t work? What if all my marvellous speakers are stuck on a train outside Telford?
I’m mostly so proud and overwhelmed by the ground swell of support from my Capgemini colleagues. When we started to ask for interest and help, I was amazed by the amount of time and energy that has been offered. And people offering help and actually doing things. I’ve got volunteers to project manage the whole event, to arrange calls for volunteers, to register attendees on the day, to facilitate training sessions, to put up posters, to appear in training videos and everything in between! I am SO proud and so excited for next week – so, my Capgemini colleagues, who is with me?