What LGBT+ history month means to me

Sean Mahoney · 30 January 2020

Equality and Diversity are the terms used to both define and champion the values of human rights in society, and that includes the workplace. This is something that is of enormous importance to me, both personally as an openly gay man and professionally as a manager of people.

I came out on my 15th birthday because I felt I needed to get things off my chest. I was fortunate to have a family that accepted me regardless of my sexuality. However, things were different when I started working. I was too scared to come out at work; I was afraid of being bullied and treated unfairly just for being me. Things were very different then and discrimination for being different was an acceptable part of society and the workplace.

Eventually, I got the courage to come out at work and that led to me feeling stronger personally and professionally. So, for me equality and diversity is about respecting friends and colleagues for their individuality and not judging them for their differences.

Each of us has a personal responsibility to create the culture we want to see, providing opportunities for people to be themselves is very important as it helps to create an open and transparent culture, one which can positively impact people’s morale and sense of belonging.

It’s crucial that everyone does their part to foster diversity and to create a truly inclusive culture where every employee can do their best work, and thanks to the hard work of unions like Prospect discrimination is no longer acceptable.

In the UK workers have a legal right to be treated equally and given the same opportunities regardless of their race, age, gender, sexuality, disability, culture or anything else that might be discriminated against. Companies are legally required to adhere to certain practices that ensure discrimination is eliminated and expectations of equality are always met in the workplace.

I strongly feel that people should be accepted for who they are and what they can contribute to society and the workplace. More and more studies show that, beyond just the right thing to do, inclusion and actively promoting acceptance of equality and diversity are key drivers of innovation and increased productivity.

However, despite this more than 30 years after I started my career afraid to come out as a gay man, people are still afraid to be themselves in the workplace for fear of being discriminated against. That is why the work of Prospect is important to me and I am proud to be a member of Prospects LGBT+ network.

Sean Mahoney is a Prospect member.

Join our LGBT+ network here, which is open to all members of the union.