4 minute read time
June 27, 2019
Pride Month honours the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, otherwise known as the Stonewall Uprising, which saw members of the LGBTQ community fight back against harassment from the police in Greenwich Village in June 1969. The first stirring of an uprising started when two groups in 1950s started lobbying for equality and acceptance in society. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising and we at CBRE recognise its significance.
We speak to Gareth Williams, a director on the Hotels team at CBRE Ireland on his journey in CBRE, thoughts of the rights of the LGBTQIA community and his views on how workplaces can be more inclusive in nature.
"I started in CBRE some 13 years ago, it was a number of years before I came out as gay to anyone in the company partly because I saw no need to and partly because it wasn't really a topic that came up in discussions around the office! As time went on I became aware of CBRE’s LGBTA Network and of members of the LGBTA community in various positions at all levels of the company. This representation provided assurance to me, for what I instinctively knew, that my career progression at CBRE would not be hindered in any way and everyone has the opportunity to forge their own career path on merit."
Gareth quickly adds "The trajectory that our office has made, is similar to other Irish companies, where it was accepted (albeit not very visibly) right up to today where companies are proud to show that they are friends of the community - in their physical office spaces, on social media and in their policies…for that, Ireland has come a long way."
CBRE celebrated Pride Month in offices around the world, building on its core values of Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence in showing our support for our LGBTQIA employees and community. Throughout the month, CBRE Ireland had a few events celebrating Pride.
We ask him what 3 things would be the most helpful in creating a safe and inclusive workplace for LGBTQIA colleagues, he shares them below.
- Be more visually inclusive
Be more intentional about demonstrating inclusivity -"Having pride symbols – flags etc – up in the office for Pride month removes any ambiguity and clearly demonstrates that this company stands with us."
When asked about the other ways that we can be more visually inclusive, he pauses before saying "definitely in corporate marketing material, on social media and the company website for example– can people tell we’re inclusive from these channels? And also, within induction packs for new joiners – details of LGBT supports, photos from office pride month celebrations etc. could be very empowering."
The heads of the various departments donned colourful socks in support of "Pull up your socks for Pride" day, showing support for the LGBTQIA community, setting the example for the whole office that we will not tolerate speech that causes bias.
A coffee and cake morning was hosted to keep the conversation going among colleagues and to show our support for Pride Month. Food is truly the best way to get people together!
- Ask questions
"It's okay not to understand everything so having talks to raise awareness on the challenges that the community faces is paramount in getting the conversation started" he explained.
CBRE Ireland hosted a talk from LGBT Ireland, a national support service that offers a comprehensive range of information and support through confidential phone lines and online chat services. Collette O'Regan, the training coordinator spent over an hour sharing with staff on the community and ways we can extend help to the community and their families.
"Talks like these help normalise the topic and gives people the chance to learn in a relaxed, non-judgmental setting." he adds "it's nice to see colleagues wanting to learn more about the community and on how to be more understanding of the issues faced."
- Not just for a month
Pride isn't just about celebrating for a month. "Being inclusive needs to be an ongoing commitment. People often ask me, When did you come out? – the truth is you come out all the time in what is a very hetero-normative world...but people are a lot more aware these days, and tend to make less assumptions, which is appreciated on many levels. It gives me the choice to decide if I need to further explain myself or not. Over time assumptions and stereotypes will decline, especially as more conversations on the topic take place. Small changes here and there will have long lasting impact."
“A lot of the points can be transferred to people’s personal lives outside the workplace. Ultimately it’s about leaving the door open for conversations to happen and creating safe spaces for everyone to be their true selves.”
CBRE Ireland is proud to be an ally to the LGBTQIA community and is in it for the long haul and in the every day.
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