Steps for maritime to create LGBTQ+ friendly workplaces

Wooden boats display rainbow flags during a pride boat parade, as part of Myanmar's annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) festival, in Yangon. Credit: SAI AUNG MAIN/AFP via Getty Images

As maritime workers and unions call for the need to create supportive and accepting workplaces for LGBTQIA individuals within the industry, SAS takes a look at issues companies might need to address

Taking the first step to a more inclusive workplace is an important one. While many companies may be keen to host a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or allied (LGBTQIA) workforce, it is always best to pause before jumping in and take stock of the existing workplace culture. Although well-intentioned, the company might need to look at the ways workplace cultures are created and enforced, apart from their hiring policies.

Many people from the LGBTQIA community have spoken of conservative company cultures that tend to be hostile and discriminatory, not only because of overt workplace bullying and harassment, but also due to existing workplace cultures that have been taken for granted. Such examples include dress codes, lack of familiarity with pronouns, focus on heterosexual family-making, and more. As such, it is important from the outset to re-evaluate these elements, ideally with a professional who specialises in trans-inclusive workplaces, to estimate how best to create new expectations and habits of a workplace culture that meet everyone’s needs.

For example, socially enforced gendered workplace attire can make it hard for trans or gender-non-conforming workers to feel comfortable, and may lead them to be policed or derided by other workers. For new workers, navigating a workplace is hard enough without the additional hostility that may come from being forced to dress in ways that conform with gendered traditions, but not one’s own gender and sense of self.

This is an excerpt of the SAS October edition. To have access to the full article, and more SAS features, please subscribe here.