LRA Pride Discussion Encourages Workplace Respect
This week the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) marked Belfast’s Pride Festival week by hosting a panel discussion to help businesses and organisations manage workplace conversations on diversity issues, which some may regard as ‘difficult’ or ‘sensitive’.
The event was chaired by Jude Copeland from legal firm Cleaver Fulton Rankin and who works with a wide range of charities and grassroots organisations including Queerspace, Rainbow Refugees, Portrush for Mark Ashton, PIPS Suicide Prevention and the LGBTQIA Heritage Project. The panel discussion coincides with the Pride Festival, one of the biggest annual events in Belfast, culminating with the Pride Parade on 29 July.
The LRA recently developed a guide and podcast to help employers and their employees talk about sensitive subjects, which were once taboo in the workplace. ‘Encouraging Respectful Conversations at Work’ was developed to guide organisations wanting to build and maintain a positive, safe and inclusive workplace culture. One of its key messages is noticing personal bias and its impact on understanding and perception.
Don Leeson, the LRA’s Chief Executive, says “We welcome the opportunity to bring together, as part of Pride week, representatives from different backgrounds to share perspectives on ways to encourage respectful conversations. With employers increasingly seeing the value in encouraging employees to bring their true selves to work and creating genuinely inclusive workplaces, this can create awkwardness regarding potentially sensitive topics. We hope that the Agency’s guidance on this matter, and the insights shared today by our panel, will give employers greater confidence in overcoming such issues.”
Panellists who took part in the session included Morna Blaney LRA; Geraldine Alexander, NIPSA Deputy General Secretary; Dr Kirsten Kearney, Inclusive Faith; Karen McShane, Employer & President of CIHT; Paul Gillen, Lewis Silkin LLP; Orla McKeating, Diversity Mark; and Tara Kelly, NIHE.
Jude Copeland, Chair of the event, adds “Workplaces are where many of us spend a large portion of our lives. We interact with people who are like us and people who are different from us. The Labour Relations Agency podcast ‘Encouraging Respectful Conversations’ and the conversation we have had today will hopefully empower individuals to learn more about each other, in a respectful and meaningful way. Respectful conversations create a workplace where people not only stay, but where they thrive.”