Watch: #ChamberBreakers - How we can stop bullying permeating the workplace
LGBT+ people face immense challenges in school, workplaces, and many aspects of everyday life. A 2020 report by Galop, the UK’s leading LGBT+ anti-violence charity, found they suffer from alarming levels of online abuse.
The report, based on responses from 700 LGBT+ people in the UK, revealed that eight out of 10 had experienced online abuse, six out of 10 had been threatened with physical violence, and four in 10 received death threats or threats of sexual violence.
Discrimination often begins at home and school and is allowed to perpetuate in the corporate world. Companies and educators, however, are not powerless to effect real change here, and stamp out this harmful behaviour.
In its second season, the #ChamberBreakers podcast series is focusing on corporate social responsibility, education, and the workforce at a time of global crisis.
In the last episode of this season, Lianna Brinded, head of Yahoo Finance UK, and Xavier White, CSR and innovation marketing manager for Verizon Business, speak to trans activist and author Charlie Craggs about how we stop bullying and bigotry going from the playground to the workplace.
Craggs is the founder of Nail Transphobia, a pop-up nail salon that travels around the UK offering free manicures for the chance to chat with a trans person, as a way to open hearts, break misconceptions, and change minds.
“A big reason I did this was because I kind of understood that most people just haven't met a trans person before, and this is where these misconceptions come from,” Craggs says.
“If they were to be exposed to different types of people, there would be less bullying amongst young people, but also amongst older people — if you still haven't met a trans person, you could still be transphobic in the workplace, or even in social spaces.”
One of the important ways to respect trans people is to first of all respect their pronouns. Craggs points out it literally “costs nothing” to use someone’s chosen pronoun. And if you don’t know their pronoun, just ask.
“Not doing it, is a form of bullying. It's very, very disrespectful. It's very hurtful to the person that I am,” she says. She says she gets misgendered constantly, and every time it happens “it chips away at your soul a little bit.”
Company leaders can help normalise a culture of respecting pronouns by encouraging people to put theirs into their email signatures. They are also in a powerful position to set zero-tolerance standards for bigotry in the workplace.
“It's about fostering a sense of making the workspace a safe space and having policy in place that makes it clear what's allowed and what's not,” Craggs says. If everyone called out offensive speech when they heard it, the perpetrators would not keep thinking they can get away with it.
The first step to really tackling transphobia is in the schoolyard. Craggs says gender education should absolutely be part of the education system. “I think that's where it starts, and that's why we have it in the workplace as well — they [kids] have left the playground being homophobic, or racist, or whatever, and they've gone into the workplace being like that.”
Craggs says one great way for people to learn about and better support trans people is to follow people in the trans community online.
“If you're just slowly digesting all the things that they're posting… you're going to build up a better understanding of that person and of what that person represents as part of that community — and then once you've learned those things, you just pass it on — just like a baton.”
This is the final eight-part podcast #ChamberBreakers is out every Thursday.