Allied effort to create inclusive workplace
On today’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), Defence personnel are urged to be an ally in creating an inclusive workplace.
IDAHOBIT acknowledges the challenges faced by the LGBTI community and focuses on inclusion.
No. 32 Squadron Operations Officer and former Army corporal Flying Officer Nathan Howarth said diversity played a part in a team’s collective strength.
“In my career, I have been fortunate enough to work in a range of diverse and challenging roles, and having always been an openly proud gay serviceman in my workplaces,” Flying Officer Howarth said.
“If you can be your truest and most authentic self at work, then you will bring new and different ways to meet the challenges of your work – you can’t be your best self at work if you are hiding part of who you are.”
He said allies played an important role in helping others feel included, or comfortable to be themselves at work, and little things made a big difference in being an ally.
“Try not to use assumptive language, even as simple as asking if someone has a partner as opposed to assuming the gender opposite, or using more broad language in office communication such as colleagues after sir or ma’am,” he said.
“I once was very touched in having a senior colleague at the time ask my advice on how to come to terms with their own self-realisation about their sexuality later in life – helping someone through that kind of personal journey is very moving.”
Leading Aircraftman Niels Rosendahl is currently posted to the Air Force Band as a saxophonist.
He said he was proud to be an ally to any aviator who needed support.
“I’ve felt open and proud to share stories with my workmates about the time when my younger brother came out to me, and it was one of my proudest moments in our relationship,” Leading Aircraftman Rosendahl said.
“We should all actively promote a culturally safe working environment and call out unacceptable behaviour when it’s observed.”
Defence’s newly appointed Strategic Adviser LGBTI Inclusion, Air Vice-Marshal Tracy Smart said it was important to acknowledge IDAHOBIT because some personnel in the workforce still felt excluded.
“Homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia does still exist in Defence and in the broader community – some of our LGBTI personnel still experience direct abuse or harassment, or sometimes feel that they don’t truly belong,” Air Vice-Marshal Smart said.
“To get the most out of our organisation, we need to embrace diversity and inclusion and make sure everyone feels that our workplace is a safe space.
“In my service lifetime [since 1985], we have gone from forcing LGBTI members to discharge if ‘found out’, to seeing our people proudly marching in uniform at Mardi Gras; from drumming transgender individuals out of the service, to changing policies to enable then to successfully transition and continue to serve.
“Defence culture is continually evolving to ensure it reflects the diverse Australian community that we represent, with inclusion central to achieving this.
“It would be easy to say ‘job done’, but until all of our people feel safe and included, there is still work to be done.”