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23:33 | 20th November 2018

Blogroll: Political Watch

Tue 9 Mar, 2010.
by Colm Howard-Lloyd

 

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Even this week, the media reported the case of a Californian Senator who had hidden his sexuality for years (whilst voting for every homophobic bill going - but that's a story for the psycologists couch)

The business case for "coming out"

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I attended the Stonewall Workplace Conference yesterday and I have to confess, even as a State Registered Cynic, I was massively inspired.

The hottest topic, emphasized both by the European MD of IBM and the First Sealord, was the concept of authentic leadership.

Far too many leadership courses and seminars descend into the bowels of corporate-crap-speak and define your leadership style as "blue" (wtf?) or "challenger" (am I a space shuttle or a Power Ranger here?).

The basic premise of authentic leadership though is simple; if you can't be open and honest about yourself (and in this case your sexuality) then you wont come across as trustworthy. This is easier said than done in many work environments but the principle is sound, and not one I'd really thought about before.

Indeed the most suprised in the room were the straight allies, who now see that the "pink plateau" isn't just an attention-seeking cry.

To feel comfortable being truly authentic we need role models in senior positions; the further up the ladder you are the more responsibility you have to stand-up and be counted.

Too often there is a tendancy for LGBT leaders to 'pull the ladder up after them'. The excuse given usually is that they dont want to be seen to be obsessed with LGBT issues, or to be a flag-waiver, but frankly that's not good enough!

Noone is asking you to waive any flags, chair your LGBT network or swap your tie for a rainbow croptop unless you really want to. Until we have role models, in all areas of industry, then it's going to remain a dirty little secret. These dirty little secrets stop many potentially good leaders realizing their authentic potential. This is not about some fluffy model of equality this is a cold, hard business case. Happy, motivated employees improve the bottom line. Indisputable fact.

History shows us that the more senior you become the harder it is to keep secrets. Lord Brown's minor scandal would surely have been avoided if he could of been inspired to have the courage to take a male partner along to corporate events. At yesterday's conference I listened to a former, extremely senior Civil Servant, say the words "I am a lesbian" in public for the first time as she expressed great regret that she had hidden her life for so long when she could've inspired so many.

Even this week, the media reported the case of a Californian Senator who had hidden his sexuality for years (whilst voting for every homophobic bill going - but that's a story for the psycologists couch) but was finally busted in a drink-drive smash after leaving a gay bar with a lover. Again needless scandal.

At the moment we have an increasing number of role models in the arts, in the media and increasingly in politics. We desperately need role models in industries outside the public glare; in accountancy, in manufacturing, in science. It is time more of our leaders took their "Chris Smith" moment and proclaimed "I'm gay; I'm successful; come join me..."

 

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