ACON’s Pride in Diversity program has come under repeated attacks over the past several months from opponents of LGBTQ equality, who have taken to mainstream, digital and social media to mischaracterise the program.

We are issuing the following statement to give our communities accurate information about the program to set the record straight.

Pride in Diversity is an employer support program for LGBTQ workplace inclusion. The goal of the program has always been to work with employers to create more inclusive workplaces for LGBTQ employees.

Pride in Diversity is not a public advocacy program. Its remit is strictly related to workplace diversity and inclusion practice.

Pride in Diversity was established following requests from employers, seeking advice and support in this area to enable parity with their international offices and emerging best practice in diversity and inclusion. Without market demand, Pride in Diversity would not exist.

Surveys show that 86% of employees at participating organisations felt more productive at work and 81% feel more engaged with their organisation as a direct result of the program.

Pride in Diversity membership is open to all employers in Australia. Members range from those just starting to implement LGBTQ workplace diversity and inclusion initiatives for the first time right through to those that would be considered best practice internationally.

Our members strive to be inclusive of all employees and create inclusive workplaces for all Australians. Pride in Diversity provides members with LGBTQ subject matter expertise in this aspect of their diversity and inclusion strategy.

Pride in Diversity specialises in human resources and workplace matters. We do not provide any advice or guidance whatsoever on any editorial policies or standards to any media organisation.

Diversity and inclusion programs are just as important in the public sector as they are in the private and not-for-profit sectors. Equally, they are as important in all industries, including media and broadcasting.

There are multiple instruments that measure inclusion in a wide range of areas both in Australia and overseas. Some measure inclusion initiatives for those with a disability, others measure inclusion for culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Some measure inclusion for First Nations communities.

Global indices that measure LGBTQ inclusion can be found in the US, UK, Ireland and Hong Kong.

Pride in Diversity’s Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI) is a free benchmarking instrument available to all Australian employers.

Its purpose is to (a) assess, measure and determine the current Australian benchmark for LGBTQ workplace inclusion annually, (b) provide benchmarking data to organisations to understand how their work compares to that of their peers and (c) provide feedback to organisations from their employees in regard to the impact of their diversity and inclusion initiatives via an opt-in employee survey.

Questions in the AWEI are specific to Australia and reflect Australian culture. Determining the areas addressed within the index is driven by current practice here in Australia.

Diversity and inclusion programs for people of diverse sexualities and genders have come under sustained attacks globally. These are concerted efforts to undermine progress for LGBTQ communities with a particular focus on stopping the advancement of the rights and recognition of trans and gender diverse people, particularly trans women.

ACON is proud of the work we do in improving the health and wellbeing of sexuality and gender diverse communities. We know that health and wellbeing outcomes of LGBTQ people are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse in many settings, including the workplace.

Pride in Diversity’s 2022 Australian Workplace Equality Survey of 45,000 employees showed a downward trend in the percentage of people being out to everyone who they work with, falling from 66% in 2020 to 58% in 2022. Another 33% said they felt they wouldn’t be accepted by some members of their team, and 19% said being out at work would negatively impact their career progression.

Further, results from 2021 found that only 28% of respondents would consider themselves an active ally to LGBTQ people, 11% did not feel managers/team leaders would address bullying and 14% of respondents witnessed negative jokes/commentary targeting LGBTQ people.

Research also demonstrates a link between LGBTQ Australians not feeling safe at work and negative mental health outcomes. La Trobe University research from 2020 found 57.2% of more than 6,000 surveyed LGBTQ people were experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, while 41.9% reported thoughts of suicide over the past 12 months.

Pride in Diversity’s approach is to work alongside Australian employers, to heighten levels of awareness when it comes to the challenges faced by LGBTQ people. A benefit of which is a workplace culture that fosters and nurtures diversity and inclusion, for all employees.

Through the Pride in Diversity membership program and the AWEI, we have seen substantial shifts in LGBTQ inclusion within Australian workplaces. This, in turn, have helped improve health outcomes for LGBTQ employees.

ACON is a community-based organisation specialising in community health, HIV responses and inclusion for LGBTQ people. ACON works to achieve better health outcomes for LGBTQ communities through a range of programs and services including sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drugs, community safety, domestic and family violence, ageing, disability and inclusion. Established in 1985, our purpose is to create opportunities for people in our communities to live their healthiest lives.

We will continue to deliver services and programs that improve and strengthen our communities’ health and wellbeing – including initiatives that foster diversity and inclusion – and provide support to those that share our purpose.

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