Interview with Dawn Butler, MP Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities

Live from the Stonewall Workplace Conference 2018, we speak with keynote speaker, Dawn Butler, MP Shadow Secretary of State for Women & Equalities, Labour Party. Dawn discusses equality in workplaces, calling out discrimination and how this shouldn't be a challenge to employers.

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April 27, 2018 Categories

How can employers enforce inclusion across the entire workforce?

At The Labour Party, we want to create a safe place for employees to come out and be their true authentic selves. It has to be more than just words, it has to be an environment that is created, if it’s something just on a piece of paper – that will not make employees feel safe and secure.

“The ticked box does not evoke sustainable change.”

All employers should have policies and procedures that represent these attitudes, they should also fact check and make sure that everyone is speaking the same inclusive language. Stonewall is fantastic for providing this information for employers – to make sure they are doing it correctly. It’s important that its done!

Parliament has got better, in terms of recruitment and representation which has gone towards Parliament being a recognised employer for the LGBTQ+ community. It’s something all employers should all be striving for, if you consider that if the people you work for are happy – then inevitably they will work harder and be productive. It’s common sense and makes total business sense.

Do you think Parliament at any point was a ‘tick box’ organisation who have now changed their approach regarding LGBTQ+ inclusivity?

Yes, I think in most business cases it starts as a ‘tick box’ approach and people think the ticked box is enough – however the ticked box does not evoke sustainable change, therefore, it needs to be so much more than a tick box exercise.

It needs to be a change in attitudes and a change in environments which means we need to call out discrimination when we see it and we need to make sure equality means equality. It’s not about promoting one person or a group over another – it’s about everyone.

“At The Labour Party we want to create a safe place for employees to come out and be their true authenic selves.”

Do you know about evident prejudice within workplaces ?

I was talking to my friend, who came out and he said that where he works it is very difficult to come out because people still make derogatory comments towards the LGBTQ+ community. He feels that he cannot come out at work, which isn’t right. All these attitudes and languages need to change, it’s not banter… it’s discriminatory and it’s quite obviously having a negative impact on those in the workforce.

What are the biggest challenges?

This should not be a challenge.

It’s so easy to do if you’re committed to doing it, the big challenges that workplaces face are paying people properly and the gender pay gap – those should be considered as the bigger challenges.

Making people feel welcome at work really shouldn’t be a challenge and it’s sad that it is, we need to call this out!

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