With Pride month underway, celebration and commemoration of all things LGBTQ+ is ramping up over the course of June, culminating in the 2023 Pride in London parade on Saturday 1 July. This year – for the first time ever – a cohort of proud ICAEW staff and plus ones will take part.
Now in its 51st year, the 2023 Pride in London parade will see more than 30,000 individuals and 500-plus groups march from Hyde Park Corner to Whitehall Place. Demand for places is high, but despite huge competition ICAEW’s application was successful, enabling 50 ICAEW staff, partners and children to take part.
For Sarah Hobbs, Senior Marketing Executive at ICAEW who co-chairs ICAEW’s LGBTQ+ employee resource group Together Network, taking part in the Pride parade marks a seminal moment. “Showcasing to staff, our members and our students the support that ICAEW has for Pride and for the LGBTQ+ community is very important and very empowering,” Hobbs says.
“I’m thrilled that we have been selected to participate in this year’s London Pride event for the first time,” says ICAEW Chief Operating Officer Sharron Gunn. “This goes a long way in supporting our ever-increasing efforts of becoming a truly inclusive organisation, supporting individual members of staff and their rights, across all communities.”
Despite undeniable progress, prejudice against members of the LGBTQ+ community continues, resulting in people being unfairly held back in their careers because of their sexuality and/or gender identity. More than a third of LGBT staff (35%) have hidden or disguised the fact that they are LGBT at work in the past year because they were afraid of discrimination, according to research conducted by Stonewall.
“We want to make sure that ICAEW members feel supported so that if they have any concerns, there are people that they can talk to and have that safe space. We don’t want people to feel as if they’re on their own,” Hobbs says.
For ICAEW members who are keen to show their support to their LGBTQ+ colleagues, leading by example is the best rule of thumb, Hobbs explains – and even small gestures can make a difference. “My pronouns are they/them and sometimes in meetings people might use she/her, but then afterwards they’ll drop me a note, or they’ll take me to one side and apologise and then we’ll move on. What’s important is the acknowledgement, with a willingness to learn, adapt and grow.”
In an additional show of support, ICAEW will once again during Pride month fly the Pride flag above Chartered Accountants’ Hall. For 2023, ICAEW has chosen to fly the Intersex-Inclusive Progress Flag, the latest variation of the original eight-stripe rainbow flag to be introduced and adopted by the LGBTQ+ community. “This new flag shows support for our Intersex colleagues and also shows solidarity for members of staff of colour who may also identify intersectionally with the LGBTQ+ community,” Hobbs says.
“As someone who is intersex themself, it’s really empowering that there’s going to be something flying above Chartered Accountants’ Hall that represents me,” Hobbs says. “Marching at Pride is going to be huge for us as an organisation, but changing the flag to be more representative of ICAEW staff is really big as well. It’s going to be a big Pride month for us.”
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