LGBTQ+and visibility without action

by | Inclusion & Diversity

One of the people whom I follow on LinkedIn is Lily Zheng (They/Them) – author of “Deconstructing DEI’ and ‘DEI Reconstructed” – and a queer, nonbinary trans person of color.

Their recent post has been on my mind the whole week, coinciding with big events around equality in Switzerland. We had the Feminists Strike (renamed from Women’s Strike) on June 14th and Zurich Pride on June 16th and June 17th 🌈

The quote that really stack with me is this one: 

“Visibility without action is just painting a larger target on LGBTQ+ people’s backs.”
Lily Zheng

Zheng has succinctly put into words what I’ve been hearing a lot in my conversations with individuals from underrepresented groups at work. 

LGBTQ+ people, Black people, women, and people with a disability have all told me how tired they’re of being invited to panel discussions just “to share their stories”. The company ticks off the “increased awareness of biases” box without committing to any actions, whereas the individual walks away labelled as whiny, angry, needy and – oh, irony – asking for unfair treatment, which creates backlash, and in extreme situations, leads to hate. 

Zheng reminds us that merely highlighting the LGBTQ+ community (or any other underrepresented group) without implementing substantial changes can inadvertently increase their vulnerability.

As I’m preparing my training about inclusive leadership for Philip Morris International later this week, I’m taking all of it into account. My training will focus on the everyday actions that we can all take to lead in an inclusive way, and to show up as allies at work. 

The training session will be live-streamed from the state-of-the-art studio located at PMI’s headquarters in Lausanne, connecting me with up to 150 leaders joining remotely from various parts of the globe. 

Apparently the ‘studio’ is like a TV set, with 3 cameras pointed at you, multiple screens and an army of technicians. My heart rate increases just thinking about it 😅 I’ll let you know how it went. 

On a different note, thanks so much for everyone who has reached out with feedback on my last (and first!) newsletter! On top of the many encouraging things you’ve said (thank you!), many of you have pointed out how I completely forgot to include the link to my brand new website (thank you for that as well – you live and learn!) 🙈 

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