Despite the tremendous progress Australia has made for the rights of LGBTI citizens over the past year, there's still a lot of work to be done. That's the message Australia's top LGBTI leaders want to impart to the country.
Deloitte and Google have partnered up to announce Australia's Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders, to further develop workplace inclusion and create role models for LGBTI workers.
Following the success of the 2016 Outstanding 50 LGBTI Leaders list, which included high profile business people like Alan Joyce, Jennifer Westacott and Michel Ebeid, the 2018 list does not hold back with its share of heavy hitters.
Featured alongside powerhouses like Global CEO of the RWR Group, John Caldwell, the CEO of ACOSS, Dr Cassandra Goldie, and the CEO of DOW Chemicals, Louis Vega, are some incredibly talented and passionate Australian entrepreneurs.
Amy Tildesley, founder of Harvest Insights, says being selected for the LGBTI Leaders List was a real shock.
"It was a real surprise to me," says Tildesley.
"It has made me reflect on my journey from being petrified to come out in a business environment to now being an openly gay consultant, employer, friend and colleague."
"I've realised that simply finding a way to authentically interact with people as your true self is an equally powerful way of changing hearts and minds."
The 2018 list features 24 women, 26 men, two transgender business leaders and one intersex leader. With representatives from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Perth, Darwin, and Adelaide the list is a diverse snapshot of the Australian business sector.
Alongside business leaders are LGBTI leaders from the political sphere too with Liberal Senator Dean Smith, Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Janet Rice standing in solidarity for Deloitte's cause.
Though the list is an incredible display of pride from Australia's LGBTI leaders, Robbie Robertson, a Partner at Deloitte and the National Lead of Deloitte Australia's LGBTI Network 'GLOBE' says there is still a lot of work to be done.
"Despite wonderful work being done by many Australian employers on LGBTI inclusion, the most recent research still shows that nearly 1 in 2 LGBTI workers don't feel comfortable being out at work," says Robertson.
"By promoting successful LGBTI leaders in a wide range of professions from corporate, to creative industries and right through to trades we are hoping to send a message that 'inclusion works' and ensures better outcomes, not only for individuals but for businesses too."
Benjamin Wash, entrepreneur and co-founder of Prism Venture Group, echoed the sentiments of Robertson, saying that there needs to be a cultural shift in the business sector broadly speaking.
"For fear of being controversial, the business sector still is very much an all-boys club," says Wash.
"It's very much about pushing people out who don't fit a certain mould. It's difficult for women and it's also difficult for LGBTI people."
"All of the corporate psychology that business leaders engage in, they need to start actually living the theory that they're learning."
"If you're not getting 100% of a person, you're not going to get 100% out of them."
Tildesley says there is a temptation for many LGBTI people in the workforce to hide who they are in order to make it up the corporate ladder.
"As an LGBTI person there is a temptation to hide the parts of your life that could negatively impact on the next promotion or the next contract," says Tildesley.
"The businesses that are truly open and inclusive by recognising talent and passion over maintaining the status quo will be the businesses that succeed in the long run."
Robertson says that while marriage equality was a major milestone, it was just the beginning for LGBTI people in Australia to begin to feel comfortable.
"It's interesting because there is a view that exists out there which is 'You've got Marriage Equality now, isn't that the end of it?' The reality is that, for many, Marriage Equality is just the first bastion in achieving true equality," says Robertson.
"We need to particularly support and ensure continued focus on supporting out bisexual, transgender and intersex community, who still face numerous challenges in workplaces even today."
"We hope that by including transgender and intersex role models in our 2018 list, that we can help raise further awareness and help to drive better outcomes for these individuals too."
For more information and the full list head to www.deloitte.com.au/Out50
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