Stonewall offers tips on bisexual inclusion at PinkNews Business Community event
Diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) professionals and employee resource group (ERG) leaders gathered in central London last Thursday (21 September) to learn how businesses can support their bisexual colleagues.
Over two dozen people from all industries dedicated to inclusive working environments met up for another PinkNews Business Community event, kindly hosted by the global law firm Reed Smith LLP.
On a brisk evening, attendees were treated to stunning views of the London skyline and an informative presentation from Florence Nastri, corporate partnerships manager at the UK-based charity Stonewall.
Through Nastri’s presentation, attendees learned more about the experience of bisexual people in the workplace and how businesses can create a safer space for bi, pan and queer staff to live their authentic selves at work.
“We [Stonewall] feel like it’s really important to highlight the different experiences of different identities within the LGBTQ+ community,” Nastri tells PinkNews.
“Bi people are particularly marginalised within the community because it can be hard for bi people to be seen in workplaces and for their experiences to be proactively spoken about.”
Nastri kicked off her presentation by highlighting results from a poll from YouGov, which asked people to plot themselves on a ‘sexuality scale.’ The results highlighted that 24 per cent of people chose a point somewhere between gay/lesbian and straight, and that figure jumps to 48 per cent of the Gen Z participants. However, only 4 per cent of those surveyed described themselves as bisexual.
Addressing interpersonal and structural biphobia
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Nastri continued her presentation by defining biphobia and its impact on bisexual individuals. She cited Stonewall research that found that 32 per cent of bi people aren’t open about their sexual orientation to anyone in their family. Stonewall’s data also found that 20 per cent of the LGBTQ+ community aren’t out to their healthcare professionals when seeking medical care. That figure jumps to 40 per cent for bi men and 29 per cent for bi women.
Many in the bi community have been excluded from queer spaces or have faced rejection from gay and lesbian people when it comes to dating. Nastri also noted the many negative stereotypes in the media that portray bi people as “confused” or just “going through a phase.”
From a structural perspective, Nastri noted that services, groups and resources tend to be designed and named specifically for gay and lesbian people. She also highlighted that in some cases, LGBTQ+ training and policies refer to only gay and lesbian people and/or only provide examples from those two groups.
Stonewall’s guidance on supporting bisexual colleagues
Nastri ended the evening’s presentation with suggestions on how businesses and network leads can ensure their LGBTQ+ activism within work by respecting gender-neutral language, highlighting intersectionality and showcasing role models.
Bisexual colleagues often don’t feel seen at work – something that is partly due to a lack of visible role models. Only 18 per cent of bisexual people said that they see visible role models that share their own identity, compared to 63 per cent of gay and lesbian colleagues.
Nastri stresses that being bisexual isn’t the only part of someone’s identity, and says that stressing the intersectional experiences can prevent tokenism.
“I think it’s important to humanise people as much as possible and be mindful,” she says.
“Being bi isn’t the only part of your identity. It’s also all the other parts of what makes you who you are.”
Nastri wrapped her presentation by stressing that there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusion.
“It’s really important to consider the nuances of different experiences and think about how you can particularly advocate for the bi voices within your workplace.”
Attendees to the PinkNews Business Community event also heard from Nicolas Walker, partner at Reed Smith and Tom Gates, a senior associate at the law firm. Both are also co-chairs of the firm’s LGBTQ+ employee network, PRISM.
“PRISM set itself several objectives at the beginning of 2023: widening the reach of our network across the LGBTQ+ community, making new and meaningful connections, and speaking up for underrepresented groups in the community,” Walker said.
“When PinkNews proposed a joint networking event focused on the importance of bi-inclusivity, we knew this was the perfect opportunity for partnership, connection and inclusion,” added Gates.
Launched in October 2022, the PinkNews Business Community has quickly become a vibrant and essential resource for DE&I and LGBTQ+ network leads across the UK. This welcoming and supportive space provides professionals with the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, build skills, and share insights and best practices.
Through its quarterly events, monthly newsletters, and webinars, the PinkNews Business Community offers members a wealth of knowledge and resources to help them create more inclusive workplaces. The community has something to offer everyone – from those getting started in their DE&I journey to seasoned pros.
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