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Deakin University becoming LGBTIQ+ leader offering paid gender transition leave

DEAKIN University will be the first Australian university to launch paid leave to support staff undergoing a gender transition.

The new policy will be announced to the university’s 4700 staff today.

Chief operating officer Kean Selway said Deakin considered staff diversity as a great strength and a valued asset to its community.

“Deakin is committed to diversity in the higher education sector and we recognise the rights of our LGBTIQ+ staff to live and work free of prejudice and discrimination, with all the essential freedoms enjoyed by other members of our university community and the broader population,” Mr Selway said.

“A gender transition usually includes social, medical and legal aspects and staff have told us that this can be a particularly difficult and challenging time.

“That’s why Deakin is now the first university in Australia to provide up to 10 days paid leave to support staff undergoing a gender transition.

“Under Deakin’s existing leave provisions, all staff experiencing exceptionally difficult personal circumstances can, with the support of management, apply for ‘special leave’ directly to the Vice-Chancellor.”

Mr Selway said that until now, that was the only option for people undergoing a gender transition, and that Deakin recognised the need for a specific leave entitlement.

“The paid leave is backed by a new gender transition policy which provides security and clarity around the process for Deakin staff who are undergoing a gender transition,” Mr Selway said.

“Fostering a genuinely inclusive environment affords all our staff and students a sense of belonging and an equal chance of success whether it be through study or work.”

The policy is considered a significant step forward in Deakin’s ambition to be a leading LGBTIQ+ inclusive educator and employer.

Deakin developed the policy with input from Transgender Victoria, Trans-Medical Research from the University of Melbourne and Pride in Diversity — a national not-for-profit employer support program.

Deakin launched its LGBTIQ+ 2017-2020 Plan last year.


[Source: Geelong Advertiser, 24 October 2018]

Putting the ‘T’ into LGBTI workplace inclusion

In a post-marriage equality world, there is a high risk that active support for LGBTI workplace inclusion initiatives will decline, writes Dentons’ Ben Allen and Emily Hall.

This much was made obvious in the Australian Workplace Equality Index’s 2018 Employee Survey Analysis, which found that 27 per cent of non-LGBTI respondents thought inclusion was no longer an issue after marriage equality. In contrast, only 9 per cent of LGBTI respondents felt the same. This trend seems to be matched by the survey’s other finding that in 2018, 82 per cent of non-LGBTI respondents identified that workplace inclusion was important, a drop from 92 per cent in 2017.

This thinking reveals an all too common trend in LGBTI workplace inclusion, being a focus predominantly – or exclusively – on the first three letters of the acronym and forgetting the rest

AWEI’s 2018 survey revealed some alarming figures about transgender and gender diverse inclusion in the workplace. Fewer than 66 per cent gender diverse respondents stated they felt fully supported at work, which was considerably lower than the response from lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents. Further, 14 per cent of gender diverse respondents stated they did not feel supported at work.

It’s unsurprising that transgender and gender diverse employees feel less supported at work than their lesbian, gay and bisexual peers, given that the survey results showed that gender diverse respondents were more than twice as likely to witness negative attitudes or commentary in the workplace. This is in addition to gender diverse employees experiencing a higher rate of bullying or harassment in the workplace than their lesbian, gay or bisexual peers.

Plus, more than half of gender diverse respondents did not believe that LGBTI workplace inclusion initiatives benefited them.

Of course, what happens in the workplace is intrinsically related to what happens at home. Making sure workplaces are safe and supportive environments is crucial given transgender individuals are three times more likely to experience ill mental health, and nearly 11 times more likely to attempt suicide, than the general population.

In light of these statistics, it is clear that while we may have made some progress on supporting same-sex attracted employees in the workplace, there is still a long way for us to go on the rainbow.

To be part of the positive change required, businesses need to make a concentrated effort to expand the scope of their LGBTI inclusion initiatives.

So what can businesses do to be more inclusive of their transgender and gender diverse employees?

  • Have policies specifically for transgender employees. This will provide security around the process of transitioning at work, and reinforce the message that complaints about bullying and harassment will be taken seriously.
  • Make sure that your support for transgender and gender diverse employees is publicly known. Having a clearly available public statement regarding transgender and gender diverse individuals will help ease the moderate to very high anxiety that over a quarter of transgender and gender diverse respondents reported experiencing during recruitment processes in the AWEI 2018 survey.
  • Provide adequate support services for transgender employees. This could include freely available counselling, and dedicated training or mentorship programs. Not only is this positive for inclusion, but it will also boost staff retention.
  • Provide targeted training for all employees. Raising awareness and understanding among non-LGBTI employees is crucial to reducing the rates of bullying, harassment and negative commentary currently occurring in the workplace. Ask for help! There are a number of community organisations that can provide specialist assistance when it comes to transgender and gender diverse workplace inclusion, including Pride in Diversity.

The time is now for us to make it to the other side of the rainbow.


Ben Allen is a partner at Dentons, and Emily Hall is a graduate lawyer.


[Click here for source/article]

The double-glazed ceiling: the struggle for queer women in the workplace

Three-quarters of same-sex attracted women said stereotypes like “butch”, “man-hater”, and “aggressive” negatively impacted them and were the biggest barriers to being out at work.

One third of same-sex attracted women are uncomfortable being out in the workplace, and many are fearful of being associated with harmful stereotypes, according to new research by PwC and Pride in Diversity.

The Where are all the Women? survey asked 1,270 same-sex attracted women in Australia about their experiences around workplace inclusion, one of the largest studies of its kind ever undertaken.

Of the respondents, two-thirds said they were comfortable being out to most or all of the people they work with, while 29 per cent believed being same-sex attracted would inhibit their career progression, and one in five women said they had left a job when they were younger because it wasn’t inclusive.

PwC manager and lead researcher, Kate Marks, says a sense of belonging and connection seems to be missing for same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“It’s not due to one, overarching thing,” she says.

“It’s a slow, cumulative effect from things like day-to-day comments, a lack of role models, and a double-glazed glass ceiling to break through.”

She adds that the focus for many workplaces has been gender equality for such a long time, that sexuality has been left by the wayside.

“When we asked which was important—gender or sexuality—most of the respondents said both are important,” she says.

“People have been talking about gender being the inhibitor for so long, that the concept of sexuality as an inhibitor is relatively new.”

The study found that damaging stereotypes play an important role in how same-sex attracted woman navigate the workplace, with three-quarters of respondents saying stereotypes like “butch”, “man-hater”, and “aggressive” negatively impacted them at work and were the biggest barriers to being out.

Roughly 81 per cent of respondents said active leadership support impacted how they felt about being out at work, and 80 per cent indicated that visible support for LGBTI inclusion was important when looking for a job.

When it came to role models, 84 per cent said they had people to look up to outside of the workplace, yet only half of respondents had role models within the workplace.

Marks says small symbols like rainbow lanyards or an ally closing down a potentially harmful conversation can make a world of difference.

“I think Pride networks play a critical role in this too,” she says.

“They are so good at connecting people, but at the moment they don’t seem to be doing the same thing for same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“It’s about looking at that next layer of division — when you’re hosting a panel of speakers, how are you going to make sure you have diversity of thought on that panel? When you’re creating partnerships with other organisations, who are the CEOs of those organisations?”

“The impact of these things really trickle through.”

She hopes that the research will go some way towards improving the experiences of same-sex attracted women in the workplace.

“We want to make sure they stay, and feel as excited about developing their careers as anyone else,” she says.

“And we can do that by making sure workplaces have diversity of thought in small day-to-day decisions all the way through to the top.”

Matthew Wade – Star Observer

1 in 3 gay women say their sexuality affects career progression

A survey of almost 1300 gay women has shed new light on the barriers still faced in Australian workplaces.

A report titled ‘Where are all the women?’, commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers and ACON Pride in Diversity, surveyed 1270 gay women about their experiences in the workplace.

While two-thirds of women (65 per cent) felt comfortable expressing their sexuality to work colleagues, nearly one in three (29 per cent) believed being gay had impacted their career progression.

And almost one in five (17 per cent) had left a workplace before turning 26 due to what they called a “lack of inclusion”.

“We were definitely surprised by the subtle impacts that people talked about in the report,” said author Kate Marks from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

SBS News

“So people I think are common with the concept that gender can be something that inhibits your career. But the idea that your sexuality might is slightly newer to people.”

Fears of being openly gay at work

The report, which took a year to compile, also found only 53 per cent of younger lesbians are likely to come out within the first year of a new job, compared to 60 per cent of women in a senior role.

Almost three-quarters of women (72 per cent) in a company of 100 people or less were openly gay.

The survey asked the women to detail some of the words used by co-workers to describe them.

SBS News

 Kate Marks said she was shocked at the derogatory terms used.

“The words that come through are ‘masculine’, ‘man-hater’, and ‘butch’,” she explained.

“You have to go pretty far down that list to find a word that is seemingly positive.”

Consequences of malicious comments

Dawn Hough, Director of health organisation ACON’s Pride in Diversity program, told SBS News that careless comments can poison the workplace for gay women.

“Productivity goes down, engagement goes down, and ultimately the workplace becomes a place that we don’t enjoy coming to,” she said.

“If we had more role models if we were not so inclined to name people and stereotype people things would be easier. But it’s easier said than done.”

SBS News

A growing number of Australian workplaces now have diversity initiatives, designed to ensure people feel included at all levels of the business.

But Dawn Hough says it’s often the little things that make the biggest difference… such as having an honest chat over a cup of coffee.

“It’s about creating an even playing field, not raising one group above another,” she said.

“And the manager plays a significant role there.”

Kate Marks agrees.

“It’s really about being able to bring your authentic self to work,” she said.

“And so when I think about the impact I want this report to have, I want it to go broader than LGBTI inclusion and actually start to question how, within workplaces, how we can celebrate any types of differences.”

Diversity and productivity

Jemma Still has never experienced discrimination in her corporate career.

But during the marriage equality vote last year, she was surprised by some insensitive comments around the office.

“Before that, I don’t know it didn’t make any difference that I was gay, but at that time people were – I guess they were talking about the vote a lot and kind of surrounded by it – and it just made me feel, for the first time probably in my life that I was different to my colleagues,” she said.

Jemma was able to discuss her concerns with her manager and hopes other companies can do the same to help embrace the broad diversity of their workforce.

“If you’re comfortable in who you are, and you’re comfortable in what you’re doing, then you’re happier when you’re at work and all of that leads to productivity which can’t be a bad thing.”


[Click here for source/article]

Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards 2018: And the winners are …

Professional Services firm EY has been named Australia’s 2018 Employer of the Year for LGBTI inclusion at the Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards, hosted today by ACON’s Pride in Diversity – the national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion.

More than 700 business leaders, diversity champions, HR professionals and many more actively working on LGBTI inclusion came together at the Hyatt Regency in Sydney to celebrate the results of Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI); a rigorous, evidence-based benchmarking instrument that assesses workplaces in the work and impact of their LGBTI inclusion initiatives.

In 2018, for the first time, there was significant shift in the makeup of top employers. Traditionally dominated by financial and professional services, this year saw representation from various levels of government (Australian Taxation Office and Brisbane City Council), retail (Woolworths), higher education (RMIT University), energy & resources (AGL Energy) and religious organisations (Uniting).

Twelve organisations were awarded Gold Employer status, with an additional four being awarded Platinum for the longevity of their high performance spanning at least four of the last five years (Westpac, LendLease, Accenture, Commonwealth Bank).

This year’s awards were attended by a record number of CEOs and Australian business leaders, including Qantas CEO and Pride In Diversity co-patron, Alan Joyce, and Luke Sayers, CEO of Pricewaterhouse Coopers, who picked up this year’s CEO of the Year Award for his role in LGBTI inclusion.

Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs (which incorporates Pride in Diversity, Pride in Sport and Pride in Health+Wellbeing) Dawn Hough said: “The AWEI has seen remarkable growth over the first eight years of its life; this year we see the most significant change in the diversity of our top employers and a much higher growth in participation of our small employers which we are delighted about”.

The AWEI saw 135 employers across Australia participate this year (both small and large employer indices), a 16 per cent increase on 2017 participation. The employee survey attached to the index received 23,130 responses, an increase of 38 per cent. Participation by small employers rose by 120 per cent this year with Key Assets, The Children’s Services Provider (Australia) taking out Small Employer of the Year Award.

“ACON congratulates all award winners recognised today on their significant achievement and for showing great leadership in the area of diversity and inclusion,” Ms Hough added.

Pride Inclusion Programs will next celebrate LGBTI inclusion within Australian sport with the inaugural Australian Pride in Sport Awards in Melbourne on 19 June. Held at the Showtime Events Centre, the awards will honour national and state sporting organisations, clubs and individuals as it showcases the results of the Pride in Sport Index (PSI) – the national benchmarking instrument used to assess LGBTI inclusion within Australian sport.  The event will be hosted by renowned Australian sports journalist, Tracey Holmes, and attended by Pride in Sport co-patrons Alex Blackwell and Daniel Kowalski, along with several other high profile athletes.

2018 Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards Recipients

Employer of the Year: EY

LGBTI Employee Network of the Year: Prism, EnergyAustralia

CEO of the Year: Luke Sayers, PwC

Platinum Employers: LendLease, Accenture, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Gold Employers: ANZ, Uniting, AGL Energy, Australian Taxation Office, Mercer (Australia) Pty Ltd, Brisbane City Council, Clayton Utz, RMIT University, Deloitte Australia, Deutsche Bank Australia, Woolworths, EY

Small Employer: Key Assets, The Children’s Services Provider (Australia)

Most Improved Employer: TAL

Trans/Gender Diverse Inclusion: Uniting

External Media Campaign: Hold Tight, ANZ

Executive Leadership: James Collins, PwC

Network Leader of the Year: Mark Hodgson, Alcoa

Out Role Model: Angus Lonergan, YMCA NSW

Sapphire Inspire: Kimberly Olsen, Uniting

The Sally Webster Ally Award: Melissa Tandy, ANZ

Image: 2018 Employer of the Year EY with Pride in Diversity co-patron Alan Joyce and ACON President Justin Koonin 

Bloomberg office lights up for IDAHOBIT

Pride will again shine bright in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District when the office rooftop of technology giant Bloomberg lights up in rainbow colours to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), and as a demonstration of their commitment to LGBTI inclusivity in the workplace.

As one of the world’s leading technology companies providing global business and financial information and news, Bloomberg will be conducting a rainbow lighting of its Sydney office rooftop at One Bligh Street for over two weeks starting on IDAHOBIT on May 17.  The lighting will also celebrate NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation ACON and its Pride Inclusion Program’s 2018 Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards on May 25.

Established in 2009 by ACON, Pride Inclusion Programs consists of Pride in Diversity, Australia’s not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion, which publishes the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), Australia’s national benchmark for LGBTI inclusion acknowledging top employers for LGBTI people since 2010.

Along with Pride in Diversity, Pride Inclusion Programs also comprises of Pride in Sport and Pride in Health+Wellbeing – a suite of initiatives that assists sporting organisations and healthcare service providers with all aspects of LGBTI inclusion.

Along the same vein, the new sector-neutral Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) was launched in January 2018, on the principle of providing data transparency across internal company statistics, employee policies, external community support and engagement, and gender-conscious product offerings on some of the largest firms globally. Five firms from Australia feature in this index, including ANZ, Bank of Queensland, Fortescue Metals Group, National Australia Bank and Westpac. The sector-neutral Bloomberg GEI follows the release of the Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index (BFGEI), launched in 2016.

Erika Irish Brown, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion said:

“More than 97% of our employees have now completed our unconscious bias training and more than 5,000 dedicated individuals globally – about one in four of us – are members of Communities at Bloomberg. These employee-run forums foster and support a more diverse and inclusive environment by enabling employees to serve as culture carriers, role models, and brand ambassadors, while also expanding their professional networks and enhancing their leadership and management skills. Bloomberg’s diverse workforce and open culture are essential to innovation and the key to our success worldwide, so we are very proud to support IDAHOBIT and the values it stands for.”

ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs Director Dawn Hough added: “LGBTI workplace inclusion has historically been little understood or acknowledged in Australian workplaces. Now it stands as one of the fastest growing areas of diversity and inclusion practice for businesses. The AWEI is acknowledged internationally as a gold standard benchmarking instrument – this year over 130 employers participated across all states and sectors and over 23,000 individuals participated in employee survey,”

“This is a testament to Australian employers, the incredible work that they have done for almost a decade. We have been honoured to be a part of that journey. I would like to acknowledge Bloomberg for their visual show of support for IDAHOBIT and the Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards. This speaks to the importance of the work we all do and something all employers can be extremely proud of.”

Image courtesy Bloomberg


About Bloomberg

Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Professional service. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength: leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. For more information, visit or request a demo.

Australian business, sport and health leaders to champion LGBTI inclusion

Six extraordinary and influential LGBTI Australians, internationally-recognised as leaders in their respective fields, have been appointed patrons of landmark LGBTI inclusion initiatives spearheaded by ACON: Alan Joyce AC, Daniel Kowalski OAM, Alex Blackwell, Kerryn Phelps AM, Michael Ebeid AM and Jennifer Westacott

Established in 2009 by NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation ACON, Pride Inclusion Programs comprise a suite of initiatives that assists employers, sporting organisations and healthcare service providers with all aspects of LGBTI inclusion. These include Pride in Diversity, Pride in Sport and Pride in Health+Wellbeing.

In recognition of their outstanding contributions towards progressing LGBTI inclusion within Australian sport – on and off the field – Olympic champion Daniel Kowalski and world-leading cricketer Alex Blackwell have become the inaugural patrons of Pride in Sport.

Professor Kerryn Phelps, a City of Sydney Councillor and leading LGBTI health advocate, joins SBS CEO and Managing Director Michael Ebeid as inaugural patrons of Pride in Health+Wellbeing, a program that provides support to organisations in the health sector in delivering LGBTI inclusive services.

They join recently appointed patrons to workplace inclusion program Pride in Diversity, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia Jennifer Westacott, both of whom take over from founding patron the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, who is stepping down from his role after eight years.

In welcoming the new patrons, ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said each extraordinary appointee brings a wealth of experience in leadership from the corporate, health and sporting sectors, and their appointments as patrons will combine to build energy and momentum to Pride Inclusion Programs’ ongoing efforts in advancing LGBTI inclusion.

“Even with the successful passage of marriage equality legislation in 2017, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in ensuring our workplaces, sporting environments and health services are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTI people,” Dr Koonin said.

“The appointments of these outstanding Australians will go a great way in providing additional expertise. As corporate, sporting and health leaders and prominent champions for diversity, their involvement will galvanise support for a more inclusive environment for all Australians.

“I wish to both congratulate and thank all of our new patrons for their leadership, their wisdom and their commitment to our Pride Inclusion Programs, and wish them every success as new patrons of these vital social inclusion initiatives.”

Dawn Hough, Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, added: “It is a privilege for me to welcome each one of these incredible LGBTI leaders as patrons of our Pride Inclusion Programs. I believe all of our programs will benefit greatly from the added capabilities they will all bring.”

Media enquiries:

David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications

E: | T: +61 (02) 9206 2044 | M: +61 (0)428 477 042

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce Becomes Patron Of LGBTI Workplace Inclusion Program

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce AC, has today been announced as a co-patron of ACON’s national not-for-profit program for LGBTI workplace inclusion, Pride in Diversity. Mr Joyce will share the position with recently appointed patron and Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott.

Mr Joyce will take over from former High Court Justice and founding Patron, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, who has announced he will be stepping down from his role after eight years.

A vocal advocate during last year’s push to legalise marriage equality in Australia, Mr Joyce is a longstanding advocate for greater social inclusion and equality. He was named a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in the Queen’s Birthday 2017 Honours List for his contributions to gender equity, inclusion and diversity, and a supporter of Indigenous education, as well as for his contribution to tourism and aviation.

In welcoming Mr Joyce, ACON President Dr Justin Koonin said that he brings a wealth of experience in leadership and advocacy from the corporate sector, and his appointment as co-patron of Pride in Diversity will bring new energy to the program’s ongoing efforts in advancing LGBTI inclusion.

“Even with the successful passage of marriage equality legislation in 2017, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do, and it is important that in all aspects of Australian life we have outstanding leaders, advocates and allies – including of course within Australia’s major business, governmental and educational institutions,” Dr Koonin said.

“Alan’s appointment will go a great way in providing additional understanding and expertise to Pride In Diversity, complementing the current strong leadership team and staff. As a business leader and prominent champion for diversity, his involvement will galvanise support for a more inclusive environment for Australian business.”

Speaking on his appointment, Mr Joyce said: “I’m honoured to be part of ACON’s efforts to create workplaces where LGBTI Australians feel confident to be themselves. Companies have so much to gain when employees bring their whole selves to their job, but I’ve heard too many stories from people who feel they have to devote a lot of energy to hiding a big part of their identity. The marriage equality result shows us that Australia really does believe in a fair go for all, so we need to take that message to more parts of the community. I look forward to continuing Michael’s fantastic advocacy over the past eight years and working with Jennifer to help organisations wanting to create a welcoming, diverse environment.”

Reflecting on his legacy as Pride In Diversity’s founding Patron and the program’s growth over eight years, Mr Kirby said that the time was right for him to step down and that the stewardship offered by Mr Joyce and Ms Westacott will assure the program’s continued success.

“I was delighted to be appointed the inaugural patron for the Pride in Diversity program in February 2010, and have been very pleased with the progress that the program has made to date. Although I am ever-youthful, I feel it is time for me to hand over to new, even younger patrons to contribute new ideas in a time of great change,” Mr Kirby said.

“The ever growing success of the outreach to business, sporting and general community is most heartening. It is part of the explanation for the changing attitudes of Australians of all walks of life towards LGBTIQ equality and justice. In cities, regional, remote and rural Australia, things are changing. As patron, I have always urged the need to be concerned, beyond Australia, with our neighbours, our region and the world.

“As Patron for the last eight years, I feel it is now time for me to stand down. It is time for others to contribute their skills, knowledge and wisdom to the ongoing work of Pride in Diversity. I am delighted to have been involved in the appointment of two of our most accomplished captains of industry Jennifer Westacott and Alan Joyce. I will continue to take interest in Pride in Diversity, offer my views and attend their parties.

“I wish to both congratulate and thank both Jennifer and Alan for their leadership, their wisdom and their commitment to this program and wish them every success as new Patrons of Pride in Diversity.”

Dawn Hough, Director of ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs, said: “It is a privilege for me to welcome Alan Joyce as co-patron of Pride in Diversity. While Mr. Kirby has left some big shoes to fill, I believe we, and indeed all of our programs will benefit greatly from the added capabilities Mr Joyce will bring.”

For more information please contact:

David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications

E: T: +61 (02) 9206 2044 M: +61 (0)428 477 042

Jennifer Westsacott becomes LGBTI Inclusion Program Patron

Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, has today been announced as a co-patron of ACON’s national not-for-profit program for LGBTI workplace inclusion, Pride in Diversity. Ms Westacott will share the position with founding patron and former High Court Justice, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG.

Ms Westacott was recognised for her work as a long-time advocate for greater social and economic inclusion throughout her over 20 years of leadership in critical positions within New South Wales and Victorian governments.

Her involvement in government has seen Ms Westacott appointed as a Director of Housing and the Secretary of Education in Victoria, and most recently a Director-General of the New South Wales Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources.

From 2005 to 2011 Ms Westacott was senior partner at KPMG, heading up the firm’s Sustainability, Climate Change and Water practice and its NSW State Government practice. During her time at KPMG, Jennifer advised some of Australia’s major corporations on climate change and sustainability matters, and provided advice to governments around Australia on major reform priorities.
Mr Kirby said Ms Westacott brings a wealth of experience in leadership, diversity and advocacy in the corporate sector, and her appointment as co-patron of Pride in Diversity will strengthen the program’s ongoing efforts in advancing LGBTI inclusion.

“This is a time of uncertainty amongst many LGBTIQ Australians, as their claim to equal civil rights is being debated and questioned by some fellow citizens,” Mr Kirby said. “At such a time it is vital to remind ourselves of the outstanding leaders and supporters we have amongst LGBTIQ Australians and their allies – and in Australia’s major business, governmental and educational corporations gathered in Pride in Diversity.

“It is a special privilege, at such a time, for me to welcome Jennifer Westacott to be co-patron. Gay people and their allies are everywhere. As a top Australian business and community leader, Jennifer Westacott symbolises confidence and faith in the future, based on equality and diversity.”

ACON President Dr Justin Koonin warmly welcomed Ms Westacott’s appointment, noting the considerable experience Ms Westacott brings with her to the position.

“Her appointment will go a great way in providing additional understanding and expertise to Pride In Diversity, complementing the current strong leadership team and staff,” Dr Koonin said. “The knowledge and networks our patrons provide will support new strategic initiatives and strengthen the program’s connections within the corporate sector. As ACON’s suite of Pride Inclusion Programs continues to grow, I am tremendously excited that ACON will benefit from the added capabilities Ms Westacott will bring.”

Speaking to the responsibility of corporate Australia to promote diversity and inclusion, Ms Westacott said: “Businesses want diverse workplaces where employees feel included and supported – it isn’t only a moral imperative, it’s also just good business. I’m proud to be patron of the Pride in Diversity program, helping businesses as well as employees create more diverse and productive workplaces.

“Many of Australia’s biggest companies are leading on this, but Pride in Diversity challenges them to keep improving, expanding and sharing the strategies that we know are working. I’m looking forward to working as patron to see this program rolled out in workplaces across the nation.”

Pride in Diversity is the national not-for-profit employer support program for LGBTI workplace inclusion specialising in workplace diversity, HR and organisational change. Pride in Diversity publishes the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI), the country’s national benchmarking instrument for LGBTI workplace inclusion from which Top Employers for LGBTI people is determined.

ACON’s other Pride Inclusion Programs, including Pride In Sport and Pride In Health + Wellbeing offer a range of services to assist and support employers, sporting organisations and health service providers with all aspects of LGBTI inclusion.

More information on ACON’s Pride Inclusion Programs can be found via

Homophobia is harmful to workers and businesses

This article was published on The Conversation on 21st March, 2017 and was authored by Raymond Trau, Lecturer, RMIT. Cathy Brown, Policy and Research Manager, Diversity Council Australia also contributed to the article.

Homophobia is costly to workers and the businesses that employ them, research shows. Unfortunately, it’s still prevalent in Australia and the latest lobbying from 34 business leaders for marriage equality emphasises the need for it to be addressed both within and outside the workplace.

It’s little wonder some of Australia’s leading companies called on the government to get on with the job of legislating for marriage equality. Businesses increasingly recognise that homophobia and transphobia limit their organisation’s ability to attract and retain a high calibre workforce and is hurting their bottom-line.

As CEO of Deloitte, Cindy Hook, stated

I believe in fairness and inclusion for all and my overriding aim is for every one of our people at Deloitte to reach their full potential, which includes choosing who they marry.

Smart employers know that diverse and inclusive workplaces are more profitable, innovative and have employees who are more engaged, and have a higher level of staff retention.

Homophobia is prevalent and costly

Research tells us that close to one in two LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) Australians hide their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status in the workplace for fear being “out” could damage their careers.

And despite Australia having some of the most inclusive anti-discrimination protections in the world for LGBTI people, most LGBTI employees in Australia have witnessed or heard of homophobic incidents at work.

Those experiencing homophobia and transphobia are likely to have decreased well-being and negative work attitudes, suggesting that homophobia and transphobia (including not recognising LGBTI relationships) can hurt the quality of work life and the general well-being of LGBTI individuals.

LGBTI individuals face barriers even before they start a job. The probability of gay and lesbian applicants being selected for a job interview is lower than it is for their heterosexual counterparts. This is especially true for those residing in areas lacking legal protection such as Texas in the United States and working in male or female-dominated industries.

Homophobia and transphobia can also have a detrimental impact on productivity and profitability. In Australia, lesbian and gay marketing specialist firm Out Now estimates the financial benefits associated with encouraging closeted workers to come out could be as much as A$285 million per year. This includes an 11% increase in staff retention and 30% improvement in the productivity of closeted workers.
Research from the US shows companies that adopt LGBTI-supportive policies achieve higher productivity and profitability resulting in a greater growth in their share price. This is compared to companies that are not supportive of their LGBTI employees. So LGBTI inclusion makes good business sense.

What should business do?

Over the past decade, companies have made significant progress towards creating more inclusive workplaces for LGBTI employees. And this is having a pay-off for all employees, as a recent review of LGBTI studies shows.

Research shows that inclusive leaders play a critical role in unlocking the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace. Having an inclusive leader who is a member of a minority group may reduce unconscious bias towards this minority group.

So it follows that having visible LGBTI senior leaders in an organisation could help to reduce homophobic and transphobic attitudes and demonstrate a more inclusive culture within the organisation.

Research in social psychology has also found that clear instructions to avoid stereotyping can be an effective way to reduce unconscious bias. Therefore, a firm and consistent message on LGBTI inclusion from supervisors, managers and executives, may minimise unconscious bias and stereotyping towards LGBTI employees.

Companies can also create an LGBTI-inclusive workplace by developing and implementing specific LGBTI-inclusive policies and practices. Examples of this include providing information and support to LGBTI employees (such as establishing a LGBTI network) and also making the support of LGBTI inclusive initiatives visible to all their employees, business partners and the community.

Businesses can also create diversity champions, employees who model inclusive behaviour and positive attitudes towards LGBTI employees. These champions can create a safe space for LGBTI individuals. This practice is increasingly common in sports.

Homophobia is costly to individuals, businesses and the community. Unfortunately, it is still prevalent and needs to be addressed both within and outside the workplace. Leaders, organisations and the community should work together to tackle homophobia and achieve equality.

Cathy Brown contributed to this article. She is the Policy and Research Manager at Diversity Council Australia and is also an Authorised Marriage Celebrant.