You may not have realised it, but today is IDAHOBT Day, which stands for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (but includes the whole spectrum of LGBT inclusion).
This day was set up in 2004 to draw attention to the discrimination experienced by the LGBT community internationally.
It is also Mental Health Awareness Week, for which the theme this year is stress, and how individuals cope with it.
At KPMG, we strive to foster inclusion for all our people, including those who identify as LGBT, as well as promoting everyone’s health and wellbeing. Individuals who have experienced poor mental health (such as stress) or mental ill health (depression, anxiety or another illness) are often reluctant to discuss this with colleagues in the workplace through fear of stigma and the negative perception of being weak or less capable.
We also know that LGBT individuals are over-represented in negative mental health statistics. We have been working over the past four years to address the associated stigma of mental health, and we continue to focus on this from an LGBT perspective.
Being able to talk openly about who we are helps us all to maintain good mental health; concealing poor mental health can worsen one’s frame of mind and increase the associated stigma.
KPMG’s Breathe (LGBT) Network has this year embarked upon an ambitious schedule of training events, and the network has highlighted the strong link between language and mental health; this link is critical for LGBT individuals. Being able to talk openly about your home and family life at work can foster a positive mindset, and make people feel included.
Constantly having to analyse their environment to see what is safe to discuss can make individuals feel stressed and exhausted. For example, having to modify or omit the pronouns of one’s partner so as to avoid revealing one’s sexuality can be tiring, and can make it hard to have a more productive conversation with colleagues.
It can also be stressful and isolating for trans people to have the wrong pronouns applied to them – this is called mis-gendering. So today, we are holding Pronoun Day at KPMG for IDAHOBT, which includes a lunchtime training session where colleagues and guests will explore how the use of pronouns and other features of language can foster inclusive environments.
We will also be providing practical tips, such as encouraging individuals to use neutral language which avoids assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation, and, for events, offering people name tags where they can write both their name and their preferred pronouns. We recognise that promoting openness and acceptance in this way can make a huge difference to helping those around us feel included and bolster strong mental health.
By understanding and embracing the diversity of our colleagues, there are so many ways to promote inclusion, and we are committed to exploring many of these to help us improve as a firm. We know that a lack of acceptance in the workplace is an issue which can result in poor mental health among those in LGBT groups and have serious consequences, including a higher percentage attempting to take their own lives.
This is unacceptable. At KPMG, we have made progress in creating a more inclusive workplace for our LGBT colleagues, particularly by introducing role models at a senior level in the firm who are both LGBT and straight allies. We are now working to grow our role models, or, as we prefer to call them, “real models” to include those who identify both as LGBT and have experience of mental ill health.
By doing so, we can make it absolutely clear to colleagues that KPMG is a place where inclusion is not just a nice thing to have, but a business priority.