What’s left to do now?

I recently overheard two people discussing why companies are still talking about LGBTI workplace issues now we have marriage equality in Australia. “What’s left to do now?” they asked.

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Pic: Minus18 ribbons for supporting LGBTIQ youth

Last year, Australia joined 24 countries in allowing same-sex couples to wed, a step forward in eliminating one of the last legislated pieces of discrimination for the community. The overwhelming support from the business community made a great impact on people’s lives in a difficult time.

"Less than 1 per cent of Australia’s grant-making charities supported LGBTI communities.”

But while the streamers may have settled from the celebrations, it’s certainly not the end of the challenge for equality and inclusion.

On International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) it’s important to reflect on ‘what’s left to do now’.

There is more to do: reports reveal less than 1 per cent of Australia’s grant-making charities supported LGBTI communities. In 2016 these groups received the second last volume of funding, slightly in front of ex-offenders.

Many of these community groups and organisations provide vital housing, mental health, counselling and social support services to LGBTI people, particularly young people going through a rough time at school or home.

ANZ has long supported LGBTI youth community groups and works with Minus18 and Twenty10 to support the wider community and help people achieve their goals.

There’s more to do when research tells us half of LGBTI Australians hide their sexuality at work. I know from personal experience the stress of ‘self-editing’ in the workplace - it’s exhausting and takes its toll.

Yet that research shows when LGBTI staff are openly out at work, businesses see a 15 to 30 per cent increase in productivity and retention rates.

I’m not suggesting we force people to come out, rather there’s more to do across corporate Australia to ensure LGBTI people feel safe being their authentic selves at work without fear of retribution.

There’s more to do when reports find six in 10 LGBTI people in Australia experience verbal homophobic abuse in the workplace, while two in 10 experience physical violence.

When we ask what’s left for corporate Australia to do for the LGBTI community, it’s no longer about slapping a rainbow over a logo and reciting values of respect and inclusion.

It’s about walking the walk, putting resources into work and being there for the LGBTI community when they need it the most.

ANZ today launched a national community grants program in partnership with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Community groups across Australia can apply for grants to support LGBTI initiatives in their local area.

For more information or to apply for a grant, click here.

Darren Sibson is a bluenotes contributor and is part of the leadership group for ANZ’s Pride Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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