The work environment is no longer as it used to be. It is no longer easy to hold the simplistic vision that workers are the same as “human resources” or as “labour force”, terms used to dehumanize and clear out any personal characteristic from this environment.
The diversity of people, situations, perspectives and expectations, force organizations to seek for essence for what makes sense and for deeper meanings, for ways of being and of doing things, escaping from formulas that value only the superficial.
People bring to the workplace a plurality of characteristics that defy rules, styles, standards, processes and politics that were once imposed and obeyed with few questions asked. Discriminatory practices, previously taken as natural, are now rejected. Specificities are now expected to be considered, respected and, even more than that, to be made explicit. There is deconstruction of the dominant standard which determines what is accepted as normal, beautiful, healthy, correct and competent, among other attributes that get confused with characteristics such as gender, race, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, for example.
What was previously made invisible or ignored now demands attention. There is a lack of repertoire to deal with the diversity of characteristics or identity markers present in the workplace and in the society in which organizations perform their activities.
There are still those who try to pretend it’s possible to ignore diversity and there are those who recognize that the management world faces new challenges. One of these challenges is the coexistence with the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The denial of rights because of sexual orientation and gender identity is named homo-lesbo-transphobia, a violence that transforms sexual diversity characteristics into reasons for inequality, vulnerability, exclusion and all kinds of risks.
The right to work is one of these human rights that have to be assured to LGBT people. It’s not just about having access to jobs and work stability, but it is also about the right to an inclusive environment where everyone is able to fully develop their potential, with no barriers or obstructions to their career, with respectful treatment, equality and liberty to express themselves with no constraint or violence. It does not allow the recognition of qualities in their professional activities and submits them to constant and invasive personal judgment of their intimacy.
The workplace promise, in any organization, that merit is the basis to choose a job applicant or someone for a leadership position, is destroyed by prejudice and discrimination. Any difference from the dominant standard, which is heteronormative and contrary to the diversity of characteristics and situations of life, speaks louder than a person’s skill, which should be a main focus point when choosing someone for a job.
Environments that create unhappy and less productive people based on prejudice, stigma, harassment, violence and discrimination practices are not interesting to the fight for expanding worker rights, and not even to companies that aim for success in their activities and results.
Environments that are respectful, inclusive and that promote interaction between people, therefore valuing diversity, are potentially more creative, qualified, innovative and capacitated to deal with a diverse world, under rapid and profound change.
This article is part of a series on LGBT rights.
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The CSR Journal Team