Published on in Responsible Business

Pride is an important part of the LGBT+ calendar. Since the 1970s, these now annual demonstrations have helped drive equal rights around the world and provided an opportunity for the community to celebrate acceptance, equality, and the ability to be your true self.

As an LGBT+ ally, I have participated in several London Pride marches and parties over the years. It’s incredible to see people from a whole spectrum of backgrounds and cultures come together to promote inclusivity and connect with like-minded individuals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that, for the second year running, many of these in-person events have had to be cancelled. But, knowing the importance of Pride, the community has found new and innovative ways to bring the spirit of these events online.

That’s exactly what we’ve done at Fujitsu.

Virtual Pride Week at Fujitsu

We recently hosted our second virtual Pride Week. Organised by our employee network groups around the world, this is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of our people, learn from each other and explore new ways to drive LGBT+ inclusion. From podcasts to pride parties and social media campaigns, there were some great activities for our employees and partners across the globe to get involved in.

Many of us are still working remotely and organisations around the world – including Fujitsu – have adapted to offer more flexible working options. Research shows that this is likely to extend beyond the pandemic and be adopted as the so called ‘new normal.’ With that in mind, this year’s Pride webinars focused on LGBT+ visibility in hybrid working environments.

Hundreds of people tuned in as Fujitsu’s Tim White (Executive VP, Head of Global Delivery) welcomed Vodafone’s Marta Lima and Toni Mantych (Senior Director, Technical Writing Management at ServiceNow) to an insightful panel discussion with Annie Bougie (Head of Sales & Marketing, Fujitsu Network Communications) and Caroline Moore (Product Owner, Fujitsu Northern & Western Europe).

LGBT+ visibility in a hybrid world

Our panellists discussed the need to create a “safe space” for LGBT+ people and have visible role models when we’re working remotely. Toni summed up why this is important quite nicely – “when you don’t see it, you don’t know it’s a possibility.”

In the office we often see this first-hand with visual cues such as rainbow lanyards. Now we need to bring that same concept into our hybrid world. This could be by using virtual backgrounds, rainbow frames on our profile pictures, or small symbols behind us when we’re on camera.

This view was shared by OutNOW who joined us for a second webinar for our employees to discuss research our Pride LGBT+ network has recently undertaken with them on remote working.

It was eye-opening to hear people’s thoughts about being on camera and essentially inviting people into your home, as this can leave many of us feeling exposed. In some cases, the person we have traditionally been in the office may just be one version of ourselves that we’ve deemed “professional”.

Caroline commented that working during the pandemic had “shaken our view of professionalism” and provided an opportunity for those that are comfortable doing so to show another part of their identity. We no longer have to dress a certain way. And we’ve all had meetings where pets, children and spouses have made a cameo appearance. This more informal, relaxed environment is helping to re-shape our view of work and who we need to be to “fit in”.

Hopefully, as we continue to adjust to new ways of working, we can all feel more comfortable bringing our whole self to work. To support this, we need to create opportunities for “water cooler moments” – those impromptu conversations we have away from big groups and business discussions where people may feel more comfortable sharing.

If you have some time, I’d encourage you to head over to YouTube where you can watch the full partner webinar for more great insights.

Beyond Pride

Our Pride celebrations aim to demonstrate our commitment to having a work environment, where people of all gender identities and sexual orientations can be completely themselves at work.

But we recognise the need for continuous work throughout the year to effectively promote LGBT+ inclusion in the workplace and in society. That’s why I became the Executive Sponsor of our Pride LGBT+ employee network.

This group, led by LGBT+ employees, does some fantastic work to support our LGBT+ colleagues and ensure Fujitsu is a great place to work for everyone. I’m particularly proud of the steps we’ve taken in terms of educating our employees and partners on LGBT+ issues. We recently released our LGBT+ ally guides and we are just about to release new training modules to help employees to be better allies to LGBT+ people.

Fujitsu is a global signatory of the UN LGBT+ Inclusion standards for businesses and a company that truly recognises that by bringing together the most diverse teams. We deliver the best solutions, more innovation and quality service for our customers and provide a great place for everyone to work. I look forward to working with our employee resource group on more activities over the coming months.

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