Gemma Saunders, Head of Organisational Development at Medibank, talks about why Wear It Purple is important to her on both a personal and professional level.
I was watching the film “Lucy” at the weekend and thought how cool it would be to unlock more of our minds or shall we say, our headspace. I also thought how cool is Morgan Freeman? But I doubt I’ll get much debate on that one.
It dawned on me that I’ve personally been able to use more of my headspace on things that positively impact my career and the organisation since I stopped having to create cover stories for my weekends. Remembering to refer to my partner as my “friend” and avoiding pronouns every Monday morning was mentally exhausting and at times, it created anxiety. Just imagine, being asked a simple question like “what did you get up to at the weekend?” and having to dig into a mental vault of cover stories. Even having to recite your actual story but consciously bleeping out your same-sex partner like they are an explicit lyric is draining. Try it next time you get asked….
I also realised that since I stopped covering up who I really am, I’ve had some pretty successful career moments and I’ve been a happier, more productive employee. My personal experience has largely been a positive one and I feel that’s down to the culture and people I have the pleasure of working with each day. As evidenced by the cheesy image above of my rather awesome team proudly wearing it purple recently.
The benefits of LGBTI inclusion in the workplace have been confirmed in a number of national and international studies, including the most recent AWEI findings. Diverse teams are better able to solve complex problems and exhibit a higher level of creativity and a broader thought process.
The studies (including the AWEI) show that there are still employees who don’t feel comfortable being out about their sexual orientation at work. The youngest age group (18 – 24) were least likely to be out at work, with only 60.2% being “completely ” or “moderately” out. Again, think about how they might feel answering simple questions about their weekends and holidays. The percentages were much higher when asked whether it was important to work for an organisation where they felt they could be out. This suggests that people may not necessarily choose to be out at work but it is important to work for an organisation where they feel they could be out if they chose.
By allowing employees to bring their full selves to work, you see a positive impact on productivity and tenure; enhanced organisational reputation; while maintaining a competitive advantage. Understanding differences between employees and bridging those differences is an essential means of creating an environment where everyone feels safe and valued. It’s also the law.
Imagine a world where employees can focus their minds on things that benefit their careers and your organisation? Imagine the impact on your organisational culture, productivity, and their wellbeing? Isn’t that a world you want to create?
This Friday, 26 of August, is National Wear It Purple day – a day of celebration, awareness, and support of rainbow young people and the right to be proud of who you are! How will you show your support?
The Sydney People & Culture team ‘wearing it purple’ last year!