“We are more than our sexual orientation and organisations need to look beyond that lens”
BY ELLA GAUCI
Nestled away in Clerkenwell last night (28 September), change was brewing. A room full of LGBTQIA experts and allies gathered to hear the stories of four incredible women and celebrate the birth of something new. Something exciting. Something which will not only give queer women and non-binary people the spotlight but also a microphone.
OUTSpoken Speakers Network was launched on 28 September, providing a new platform to amplify, connect, and support LGBTQIA women and non-binary people. Co-founded by Polly Shute and Raga D’silva, the Network aims to provide a best-in-class speaker agency, expertly designed workshops and training, curated, bespoke panel sessions, networking events and online toolkits and digital content.
Among the founding speakers of the Network are none other than Dame Kelly Holmes, our very own editor-in-chief Roxy Bourdillon, Emmy-winning comedy writer Beth Sherman, and many others.
“LGBTQIA women and those who are non-binary often feel both underrepresented and misunderstood in the workplace and wider society. Our aim is to grow the voice and visibility of this community and ultimately support better understanding and representation” said Polly.
OUTSpoken Speakers was born from the collaboration between Raga and Polly in order to create a space for LGBTQIA women and non-binary people to have their voices heard. Raga has over two decades of experience running speakers’ bureaus in India and New Zealand and is the Chair of the London LGBTQIA Community Centre. Polly, who is a Partnerships and Inclusion consultant and Co-Founder of Out & Wild, teamed up with Raga to create a network filled to the brim with expert speakers.
Raga said: “We are more than our sexual orientation and organisations need to look beyond that lens. We are skilled, talented, educated, creative, and so much more and have created space for ourselves and I am focused on ensuring we keep reminding the organisations of this; when they want speakers, trainers, and coaches, they will get the best-in-class from our pool of LGBTIA women and those who are non-binary and our supportive allies, who are great story-tellers and experts at their craft.”
Research by myGwork highlights the importance of having this representation in the community – especially in workplaces. Less than a quarter of LGBTQIA women and non-binary professionals are fully out at work, and 70% of those who are have experienced discrimination at some point in their careers.
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