Fostering Inclusivity in the Workplace

This month, the Erstwildian team were honoured to have Seb from Minus18 come down to Erstwilder HQ and deliver their ‘Introduction to Gender and Sexuality’ training session. Our intention was simply to learn about the lived experience of people in the Queer community, about the challenges faced by so many, about how we can be better allies individually, and about how we can come together as a collective and as a brand to ensure we create LGBTQIA+ inclusion in our workplace. It’s on this last point we’d like to focus, share a little about the steps we’ve taken, and put out there into the world what other workplaces can do to foster a culture of inclusion.

Erstwilder is and always has been about sparking joy. For years we have had members of our team who identify as queer and we’ve never had any issue with regard to those people feeling comfortable and accepted. But this training session has given us pause to reflect and consider that we don’t know what we don’t know, and perhaps some people have at times held feelings we weren’t aware of. Learning about the extraordinarily high number of people who are not ‘out’ to everyone they work with, is both shocking and saddening. Of course, there would be some who, for any reason they so choose, don’t want to share that part of their life or identity with colleagues. But we would posit that the vast majority of those not living as their authentic selves in the workplace are doing so out of fear of judgment or harassment, or a belief that they wouldn’t be welcomed and accepted as they are. We understand that businesses bear a responsibility to ensure they create a space in which all people, from all walks of life, feel comfortable and confident to be themselves, their whole selves.

So, here are some steps we have taken in our efforts to create an inclusive workplace:
  • We did this training session! Our whole team participated (all of those who were at HQ at least!) and it was a wonderfully open, honest, educational, and often humorous experience. We were all really engaged and that’s thanks to our amazing presenter Seb and a brilliant program created for businesses by @minus18youth.

  • We have signed up for ‘The Welcome Here Project’ which supports Australian businesses in creating environments that are visibly welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ community. We proudly display their ‘welcome here’ sign at the entrance to our HQ so people are immediately met with a message of inclusivity upon arrival. We also proudly display a large progress pride flag in our communal break-out room. The team spends a lot of time here as it is where we have lunches, watch Quiz shows on TV, play Mario Kart, celebrate birthdays, and it doubles as another meeting room space as needed.

  • We have removed the traditional male and female signs from our single-stall bathrooms to prevent the feeling of ‘othering’ for those in the queer community. 'Othering' is a phenomenon that results in some people feeling as though they don’t fit in with the norms of a social group. The male and female signs can create this feeling for anyone who doesn’t identify in binary terms, and this is something we’re actively trying to avoid.

  • We’ve added pronouns to all our team profiles on our 'Meet the Team' page online and to our email signatures. We’ve also added a statement of inclusivity to our website homepage and our email signatures. These actions help prospective employees understand a business is not going to assume their gender and signals that all identities are welcome.

  • We’re working on a diversity and inclusion policy. This is a way to formalise allyship, and give both current and future employees the confidence and reassurance that their workplace is a safe place with an inclusive code of conduct, where they are welcomed and supported.

Whilst some of the above progress came about from our discussions and training with Minus18, some were also brought to our attention by our wonderful team members, who advocated for change. As such, we encourage you all to take a moment to reflect and consider how you too can ensure your workplace or business is doing all it can to build and promote open, inclusive, and diverse cultures, for everyone's benefit. We certainly see ourselves as a work in progress and will continue to share our learnings as our journey of allyship continues.

Happy Pride Month, with love from everyone here at Erstwilder. 🌈💖
Oh, and if you’re interested in checking out some pride-inspired accessories you can shop our Pride & Joy collection, which is proudly supporting Minus18.
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