At Bupa, we welcome you just the way you are

At a time when almost half of all LGBTIQ+ people feel the need to hide their sexual identity at work, read how Bupa’s Pride Network and Pride Champions are turning that around.

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Interphobia and Transphobia, known as IDAHOBIT, recalls some sad history. It’s the anniversary of a World Health Organisation decision to remove homosexuality from its International Classification of Diseases in 1990.

More recently, May 17 has become a day of celebration for the LGBTIQ+ community, acknowledging progress towards equality.

Bupa’s Pride Network marked IDAHOBIT this year by celebrating the allies who continue to support the LGBTIQ+ community and play an important role in building acceptance.

“An ally is anyone who actively supports those who might not have much of a voice in our community. It saddens me that people feel like they can’t be themselves and I want to make sure I’m standing up for those people,” said Sarah Chand, a member of the Pride Network.

For many LGBTIQ+ people, the decision to be out in the workplace is a difficult one. Recent research by the Diversity Council of Australia found that 74% of LGBTIQ+ people surveyed felt being out at work was important, however only 32% were out to their colleagues.

When Andrea started working at Bupa she was happily engaged to her partner. Unsure how this would be received by her new team, she chose not to disclose her sexuality.

“People often assumed my partner was man, and because I’m quite shy I wouldn’t correct them. I really like my team, so it felt uncomfortable to lie to them,” said Andrea.

At a work event she was introduced to a member of the Pride Network and finally found someone to confide in. The two hatched a plan and with her new-found ally by her side Andrea was finally able to come out to her team. Her worst fears unfounded, a celebratory morning tea was organised where Andrea shared her wedding photos with her team.

“It was an amazing experience. I’ve learned that just telling people you support them is enough to change a life,” said Andrea.

Bupa’s Pride Network formed in 2017, when a group of LGBTIQ+ employees and allies were looking for ways to support each other and took positive steps to create a network to benefit those across the organisation.

“The wellbeing of our people and the community is integral to Bupa’s purpose. When we set out to form a Pride Network we knew that creating a safe and inclusive workplace for our people would be the focus,” said Carol Corzo, Head of Inclusion.

The group has made some serious strides since its inception; growing from a small group of committed people to a wide-reaching active network with representation and support across the Bupa organisation.

Members are trained on self-care and on LGBTIQ+ mental health, with many receiving a Mental Health First Aid qualification. A Transgender and Gender Diverse toolkit has been developed to support employees who are transitioning, and key systems are being updated with inclusive gender options.

The group also provides invaluable opportunities for networking both in formal and informal settings; developing communities of support around those who need it most, demonstrating that Bupa is a workplace where everyone is welcome to be themselves.

One of our Pride Champions, Ray Pastoors, has blogged about what IDAHOBIT means to him.

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