March’s Federation of Piling Specialists (FPS) Podcast discusses LGBT+ topics, with guests Jyoti Sehdev (Chartered Engineer and Group Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Costain), Richard Totty (Senior Design Engineer at Bachy Soletanche and Ambassador for Stonewall) and Fiona Connor (Lead Project Geologist at Applied Geology and InterEngineering’s representative at the Ground Forum).
Steve opens the podcast with an exploration of each’s “coming out” experiences and what it was like when they first told their colleagues. Richard began discussions with his small steps approach and how he at first lacked the confidence to speak about his sexuality, and how he actually ‘came out’ once he was himself happier in a stable relationship. Fiona then talked about her different approach – simultaneously coming out to both her family and work at the same time in her mid-twenties – having been through a period she described as ‘coming to terms with her sexuality’.
The dangers or effect of not coming out at work was then discussed by Jyoti, who spoke about how hiding part of your life can actually impact your wellbeing and how it can also impact the business through not having a culture of inclusivity means people not working at their best.
The importance of a support network is discussed, especially within the workplace so that the environment to come out is well received and not going to negatively impact on you as an individual. Culture is important, and that it is important to report homophobia or other discrimination to someone such as a line manager. Steve added how people often modify their behaviour according to the people around and how being around LGBT+ should actually change culture for the better.
Discussions then moved on specifically to support networks and how senior visible support is extremely important. Having senior people in supportive roles means behaviour against diversity and inclusivity culture can be addressed at the highest level. Some poor examples of discrimination are discussed too.
How to be a better friend of the LGBT+ community was discussed, such as bringing any existing LGBT+ knowledge to the workplace and if that is not possible to go and find groups and resources and make your knowledge visible. If nothing else it helps mental health, and those that may not have yet come out. Some example literature was presented such as “The Glass Closet”, by John Brown – CEO of BP, who writes about why coming out is good business!
The LGBT+ acronym was explained and all the variations that exist and the group attempted to explain their definitions, but also how it is more about understanding and not so much the label with everyone wishing to be defined differently. If not sure how to refer to someone – simply ask was the good advice offered.
Networking and role models are then discussed and their importance within the LGBT+ community, as well as some of the industry groups that have been set up to assist the community and promote wider understanding.
The podcast concluded with the call for more role models and not just LGBT+, but also role models for all underrepresented groups so that piling and wider construction can truly represent society.