Pride Month: building an inclusive workplace 

Our Further Education (FE) and Skills sector serves everyone in society, including people who are often marginalised and underrepresented in education and training. 

Katerina Kolyva CEO
Dr Katerina Kolyva, ETF CEO

As June brings a vibrant celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s crucial to recognise the significance of Pride Month and our role in supporting it. The Stonewall riots in 1969 marked a turning point for LGBTQ+ rights, born from protests and advocacy in response to discrimination. Today, Pride Month serves as an annual celebration of LGBTQ+ identity, acceptance, and progress.  

However, it’s integral for us to acknowledge the ongoing challenges faced by the community and promote genuine allyship within our workplace. Our celebrations must be accompanied by reflection. Despite progress, instances of inappropriate behaviour, language, and microaggressions, both in professional and personal settings, still persist. Pride in the workplace thus calls for continuous self-reflection, learning, and growth.  

How can we all be allies? 

In the broader context of our sector, we have to recognise that actions speak louder than words. Our language, nuances, and reactions we employ can either perpetuate stereotypes or break them down, marginalise or include, harm, or heal. Supporting the LGBTQ+ community means implementing anti-discrimination policies, supporting LGBTQ+ colleagues, fostering a culture of inclusivity, and standing up for the rights of the community. 

I’ve sometimes heard that we can only be a true ally if we have a protected characteristic. But the concept of allyship should not be limited by our personal identity or minoritised status. While it’s true that shared experiences can foster understanding, true allyship is about actively engaging with the issues affecting our society and embracing challenges that promote inclusivity. We must move beyond the notion that empathy stems solely from experiencing discrimination ourselves, and instead, focus on fostering genuine connections through understanding and support. 

Our commitment to championing inclusion 

At ETF, we strive to champion inclusion in both our external and internal practices, promoting a fair and inclusive atmosphere for all. We want everyone who accesses the FE and Skills sector to feel like they belong and are included. We aim to work with you to ensure that our workforce and the curriculum reflect the learners and communities our sector serves. 

Some of the ways we are trying to achieve this include: 

  • Using positive action to promote and address underrepresentation on our CPD programmes, 
  • Offering specialist support programmes,  
  • Working strategically with the sector to pilot approaches to create sustainable change, through our Inclusive Leadership programme.  

You can tap into our resources including Deeper Thinking, Stronger Action: A Personal and Organisational Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion – a Toolkit for Leaders and many others on our Inclusive FE webpages. We are currently working on updating our inclusive language and accessibility guides which we look forward to sharing with the sector in the autumn.  

As we continue to drive our new strategy forward, we encourage collaboration and open communication from the sector to ensure everyone feels valued and supported. 

Best wishes,