Multiple coming out conundrum
Written by Javier Maquieira, senior associate
Edited by David Gaffney, partner
Fifty-one years ago, an uprising in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn on New York’s Christopher Street sparked a liberation movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGTBQ+) people. Its effects are still felt today.
Contrary to popular media depictions of the riots that followed on 28 June 1969, the Stonewall uprising wasn’t a thing of white gay men only. In fact, it was lesbians and trans women of colour who led the resistance; people such as Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha P. Johnson.
These acts of resistance, alongside the broader civil rights movement, inspired a generation of Black Power, feminist and LGTBQ+ activists who have fought and continue to fight against discrimination and stigmatisation. Many tangible gains have been made since then but I’m incredibly conscious as a white gay man in Europe, that I hold a far more privileged position than others struggling with defining and disclosing their intersectional identities in unaccepting environments.
If you look at the data, same-sex sexual acts are criminalised in more than one-third of the United Nations member states, including half of Asian members and close to 60% of African members. In some cases, the penalty for these acts is life imprisonment or death, while being transgender is simply illegal in certain countries.
As is often the case, the situation for LGBTQ+ people in Europe and North America is substantially better. Only last week, the US Supreme Court ruled for the protection of gay and transgender employees, saying the prohibition of discrimination based on sex should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity. But what is being LGTBQ+ in the workplace really like?
Experiences vary, of course, but recent research by McKinsey & Company on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ workers point to mainly four: coming out, discrimination, microaggressions, and isolation. The study suggests that more than one in four LGTBQ+ employees are not broadly out at work, especially among junior workers and women.
However, disclosing your sexual orientation or gender identity as an LGBTQ+ person isn’t a single act in your life. I “officially” came out to my most immediate circle when I was 13, but the truth is that I continue to come out almost every day of my life, one way or another. It’s a “multiple coming out conundrum”, as one of the respondents in McKinsey’s research put it, and it can be a debilitating situation for certain people, impacting their levels of happiness and productivity.
Some might vaguely argue what people are, do or whom they love shouldn’t matter at work, but the way we relate to colleagues, clients, and suppliers really needs to be supported by more than just work and productivity and offer safe places to be ourselves. We need to feel fully accepted in order to be productive.
More than 50 years on since the Stonewall riots, there’s so much more we can do to bring people’s authentic selves and diverse contributions to work and elsewhere. Beginning with business leaders, the time is ripe for reverse mentoring and permanent learning to be a priority. Staying connected to what it means to be a minority at work and doing something to improve those experiences will bring about a better and kinder type of leadership. That’s what the world needs right now.
The UK’s top civil servant, Sir Mark Sedwill, announced his decision to stand down from his role in September. Sir Mark’s relationship with Dominic Cummings is known to be difficult, andThe Guardianreports claims that the cabinet secretary has been smeared and undermined by Boris Johnson’s aides. His exit is likely to be pave the way for a wider shake-up of the civil service overseen by Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, who has long called for an overhaul of the civil service.
In a speech on the future of government and the role of the UK's politically neutral civil service, Michael Gove said that more diversity in official recruitment and emphasis on mathematical and scientific skills was key to making civil servants more responsive to the public's needs. The cabinet office minister also argued that “group think” must be challenged and that the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the scale of the "structural inequalities" in Britain.
The English city of Leicester might see the return of lockdown restrictions “within days” following a surge in Covid-19 cases, home secretary Priti Patel has confirmed. The move, which is still being considered, comes as the global total of infections passed 10 million and the Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, accused Boris Johnson of risking a second wave by encouraging the public to return to normal life.
Business and economy
The prime minister told theMail on Sunday that his government would “not go back to the austerity of 10 years ago”. Boris Johnson added that his plans for the UK’s economic recovery, which will be set out on Tuesday, will include a new taskforce looking at spending on new infrastructure – namely hospitals, schools and roads – in order to "build our way back to health".
Starbucks has announced it will remove advertising from some social media platforms in response to hate speech. The coffee chain company joins other global brands including Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Unilever in suspending advertising on social platforms. This social media "pause" will not include YouTube, owned by Google, said a Starbucks spokesperson.
Virgin Atlantic is seeking a privately funded rescue deal worth up to £900m by the end of this week, to cope with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on international travel. The airline is in talks with hedge funds and shareholders to secure the funding and is discussing deferral of payments with plane manufacturers and leaseholders.
Columns of note
John Thornhill insists in theFinancial Times that internet access is a fundamental human right that should be available to all but is still denied to billions of people in the world, especially the old and the poor. Thornhill argues that a closer collaboration between the private and the public sectors will be required to connect and develop training and education for the disadvantaged, with governments playing a more proactive role in ensuring fairer rules and fiercer competition among internet providers. (£)
Writing inCity AM, John Hulsman opines that China’s transgressions onto India’s side of the border in the Himalayas are not likely to cow New Delhi but rather drive it even more firmly into America’s arms in a nascent anti-Chinese alliance of Indo-Pacific democracies. He concludes that as a new but looser cold war gathers pace, India is poised to be the major economic beneficiary from a partial American decoupling from China, regardless of who wins the US 2020 presidential election.
Source: The Times
The week ahead
Tuesday will mark exactly six months since the World Health Organisation was first warned about the coronavirus; a disease whose impact continues to be felt heavily around the world.
The severity of the pandemic on the global economy will be further assessed this week, with the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last monetary meeting due on Wednesday; job numbers from the US and Germany, on Thursday and Wednesday, respectively; and business surveys from China and Japan.
The US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Donald Trump’s successor agreement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), will come into effect on Wednesday. The deal includes a digital chapter and provisions to favour sourcing from North America.
Meanwhile in Europe, a new round of “intensified” talks about post-Brexit arrangements begins for the EU and UK. The discussions will start today, with an in-person meeting in Brussels between Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and David Frost, his UK counterpart who, incidentally, is to take over as national security adviser when Sir Mark Sedwill stands down. Although both sides have signalled their willingness to reach a deal, the deadline for requesting an extension lapses on Wednesday.
Elsewhere, on Wednesday Taiwan will open an office dedicated to helping Hong Kong residents and businesses relocate to the island in response to China’s tightening grip on the special administrative region.
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Did you know?
The Eiffel Tower was originally intended for Barcelona. However, the city rejected Gustave Eiffel’s plans, thinking the structure would end up being an eyesore, forcing him to pitch the project elsewhere.
House of Commons
Work and Pensions (including Topical Questions)
Business and Planning Bill: all stages
150thanniversary of Dronfield Station - Lee Rowley
House of Lords
Supporting victims of domestic abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic - Baroness Gale
Reducing the number of short prison sentences - Lord German
Impact of COVID-19 on the airline sector and steps to support that sector - Baroness McIntosh of Pickering
HM Government's relationship with the government of China - Baroness Falkner of Margravine
Private Notice Question
Covid-19: UK councils - Baroness Pinnock
Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL] - Third reading - Lord Keen of Elie
Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill - Report stage - Baroness Barran
Orders and regulations
Public Service Vehicles (Open Data) (England) Regulations 2020 - Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Department’s response to the decision of the Court of Appeal of 22 June 2020 in the case Johnson, Woods, Barrett and Stewart vs the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions - Baroness Stedman-Scott