This year, someone very close to me came out. It was no surprise, and quite frankly, I still wonder why it took so long, but it's made me realize that even in the most accepting situations, those of the LBGTQ2+ communities can face so much fear. It made me wonder about employment and the barriers I thought didn't exist but still do.
ASPECT advocates for equity-seeking groups through our efforts to make workplaces more inclusive for those with disabilities (e.g., Youth with Disabilities Employment Strategy Network, Inclusion BC, Canadian Association of Supported Employment, BC CEO Network), Youth (e.g., Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity, First Work), newcomers/immigrants (AMSSA), and Indigenous populations (e.g., Social Services Sector Roundtable Reference Group, Aboriginal Essential Skills Guiding Team). I'm always looking at what's missing, and it is now clear that I am missing formal and informal relationships with equity, diversity, and inclusion groups. I've taken a ton of training in this area, but the voices of these groups are not in my advocacy actions.
That is going to change now, and I need your help. Please let me know if you know of employment-related advocacy organizations that work specifically with equity, diversity, and inclusion populations. Pride month reminds me that there is still a lot of work to be done at ASPECT on your and your clients' behalf.
A story of exclusion hit close to home recently. A friend of my daughters has worked at a coffee bar located in a hospital and has loved doing so for almost four years. They will be starting their hormone transition soon, and the new manager has fired them because they no longer fit the coffee bar's "business model." I can read between the lines and am outraged that this practice still exists and shocked by my own naivité. Pride month and Pride season is an excellent opportunity for us to take a deeper dive into the challenges and find out how to be a better ally.
For those who may be interested in our advocacy connections and relationships, I have updated the ASPECT Advocacy & Relationship map on our website.