Why more organisations should consider an LGBT+ friendly space

17 May 2019 - 07:00
By thango ntwasa
Image: Supplied.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) will be commemorated on May 17. The day marks the monumental removal of homosexuality from the International Classification of Diseases by the World Health Organisation.

The LGBT+ forum released the first South African Workers Index (SAWEI) which rated a number of companies on how diverse and LGBT+ friendly their work spaces are. As the top rated law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright has continued their support by celebrating IDAHOT day this week.

PRIDE Chair and director at Norton Rose Fulbright, Ross Forgan shares that their law firm has always been at the forefront of having an inclusive work environment. When the initiative was spearheaded by the law firm Forgan was inspired to champion its actualisation.

Forgan shares that coming-out about one’s sexuality in the workplace can be a luxury for many, especially if they are coming from a community that might not understand the different kinds of sexuality.

Creating this inclusive network in a corporate space also helps as an educational tool that can quell homophobia and bigotry. Forgan also found that it changes mind-sets within the office space.

“I have had interactions where I was in the coffee station and had someone come up to me and said that they think that their nephew is gay and asked me what should they do or if they should do anything,” says Forgan.

This has fostered a healthy environment for communication and safe spaces where learning is possible without discrimination.

Forgan also hopes that it will influence more law firms to participate this year’s SAWEI.

“It creates healthy competition and it’s only got a good outcome. The more companies create LGBT+ friendly environments, the better for all.”

SAWEI is a survey that seeks to benchmark and recognise employers that are most inclusive towards LGBT+ employees in the country. The survey also allows companies to identify areas of improvement in terms of an effective diversification of their work 

Image: Supplied.