LGBTQ articles

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Differences divide us, and that’s why we need to find the values that unite us, writes Sinead Donovan. It strikes me that, in today’s world, we are constantly putting labels on things or people. We are either male/female, Gen Z/Gen Y, baby boomers, LGBT+/straight. We have the labels of our culture or our creed, and while I am so in favour of diversity, and have pushed the diversity and inclusion concept incredibly hard within my firm and throughout the work I have done in Chartered Accountants Ireland, I sometimes wonder – have we made too many labels? Are we defining ourselves by labels rather than looking for the commonality and the thread that keeps us all together?   It’s not a new concept but, as perhaps I progress in my career and through management, I sometimes think it’s better to look for what binds us together than at what differentiates us. Maybe by finding those common threads it will enable us to be a more holistic family together, despite our gender, culture, religion, or sexual orientation.  So, I suppose the big question is: are there common threads and, if so, what are they? To me, it comes down to people’s beliefs. Fundamentally, underpinning us all, as it does in our professional careers, are the value sets that define us. For us, in our business unit in Grant Thornton, we have identified those values as: Adaptable; Innovative; Passion for what we do; Collaborative; Going the extra mile; Ethical and professional; and Technically knowledgeable. People may have different values they use to identify themselves, but whatever it is, there should be that common link in us all. With Chartered Accountants, it has to be the value set of ethics. These underpin our profession, despite how wide it has become or the labels we have put on each other as accountants: are we forensic accountants, cybersecurity accountants, auditors, tax advisors? Whatever you are, the one item that underpins us all is our code of ethics.  Ethics is taught in the early days of a student’s profession, sits beside us as a professional, and maybe gets looked at once or twice in our career. However, I would urge that the concept of ethics is used more widely to link us together as one family of accountants – be that Chartered Accountants Ireland, ATI, or membership to any other accountancy body. We have a responsibility to our stakeholders, the people we report to, the people who use our knowledge, and the daily work that must be done in an ethical manner.  As a member of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee in Chartered Accountants Ireland, I am not saying any of the above to absolve ourselves of the need to identify the differences we all face in life. But what I am saying is, maybe sometimes, let’s just celebrate our similarities and, with that, see ourselves as a family of accountants in the first instance and then ensure any differences that we may have are 100% noted, understood, managed and included because, just as in any family, there are different characters, beliefs, and personalities. And, while there are going to be difficulties, there has to be that underlining acceptance of who we are and what we are. To me, it starts on the journey as a student and, I think, that our profession is more open than it may have been when I started. However, I do know that from our work in CA Support, difficulties, prejudice, and unbelievable stress which may not be acknowledged or identified, remain. So, look out for your student members, your newly qualified members, and even look out for the more experienced members who may be going through difficulties in their professional or personal lives. If I can leave you with one thought, let it be this: let us identify the differences, ensure those differences are respected and brought together in one bucket of inclusion. Importantly, we need to unite in our underlining similarities that we have as Chartered Accountants and use that as a thread to tie us together.   Sinead Donovan FCA is a Partner in Financial Accounting and Advisory Services at Grant Thornton.

Dec 03, 2019

Under the Employment Equality Acts (1998-2015) it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against somebody because of their sexual orientation. This principle applies to all aspects of work and employment including: Recruitment Bullying and harassment policies Terms of employment, including pay Promotion, transfer and training opportunities Dismissal or redundancy Discipline and grievances What is sexual orientation? The term sexual orientation refers to: Orientation towards people of the same sex (lesbians and gay men) Orientation towards people of the opposite sex (heterosexual) Orientation towards people of the same sex and opposite sex (bisexual) Types of discrimination There are 4 types of discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation. Direct discrimination Treating someone less favourably because of his or her perceived or actual sexual orientation, or that of someone they associate with. Indirect discrimination This occurs when a policy or procedure applies to all employees but disadvantages people of a certain sexual orientation. For example, a maternity or paternity policy that doesn't apply to same-sex couples. Harassment Intimidating, hostile, humiliating or offensive behaviour towards an individual, associated with their sexual orientation. This can include revealing a person's sexual orientation to others against that person's will. Victimisation Unfair treatment of an individual who has made a complaint about discrimination based on their sexual orientation. Coming out This refers to people choosing to tell others about their sexual orientation. This is a very personal decision. Some people may choose to keep this information private at work. Any breach of this confidentiality by another person could be seen as harassment and a breach of data protection legislation. Employers have a responsibility to ensure a culture of respect and tolerance, so that anyone who chooses to come out at work feels confident doing so. Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members, ACA students and their close family around the world.

Jul 09, 2019

Chartered Accountants Ireland today, 20 June, launched its inaugural programme of Pride celebrations. Over the summer, the Institute will be running a range of events and online resources in Dublin and Belfast. The programme commenced with the unveiling of building branding in the Dublin office and a staff event on diversity & inclusion. The Institute was delighted to welcome Chartered Accountants Ireland member Brendan Byrne, Finance Director and LGBT Network Lead at Accenture Ireland, along with Sara Philips, Chair of TENI who was the Grand Marshall of this year's Pride parade. Though members and member firms have a long history of supporting Pride, this is the Institute’s first participation, and the activities build on the wider remit of the Institute and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. To mark the occasion, Diversity and Inclusion Committee member John McNamara shares his thoughts on Pride celebrations and how people can be allies all year round. Importance of LGBT+ allies all year round Each year, June sees a month-long global celebration of Pride and it’s a time for everyone to recognise and celebrate the importance of diversity and inclusion both in and out of the workplace. Why June? June was chosen to commemorate the Stonewall riots in New York, which occurred at the end of June 1969 and therefore this year marks its 50th anniversary. The riots grew from police raids on the Stonewall gay bar which in turn led to wider demonstrations and is now recognised as the birth of the modern LGBT+ rights movement. Pride was born out of the struggle for the gay community to be seen. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBT+ individuals and groups have had on society and highlight areas where further progress is required. Very appropriately, the theme for Dublin Pride in 2019 is ‘Rainbow Revolution’. Notwithstanding the rapid and important hard-won recent achievements in this country, Pride won’t magically make everybody comfortable enough to come out at work, and it won’t encourage everyone to think twice about the discriminatory language they use in and out of work often disguised as ‘banter’. A recent UK study showed 62% of LGBT+ graduates who are already out to their friends and family feel they have to go back into the closet when they get their first job. The Institute’s Diversity and Inclusion committee plays a role in drawing attention to the importance of business strategies ensuring an inclusive environment for LGBT+ employees. We understand that when we can be ourselves at work and are able to live our values every day, we are empowered to reach our full potential. We also know that when people from different backgrounds with different points of view collaborate together, they create the greatest value - for our business and our customers. The role of LGBT+ Allies is vital in this regard. An ally is a term used to describe someone who is supportive of LBGT people and includes non-LGBT allies as well as those within the LGBT community who support each other. How can you be an ally? Here are 4 basic ways: EDUCATE YOURSELF: Make time to learn about the issues. Go away, do your research and give yourself a good idea of what it all means. BE VISIBLE: From simple things like wearing Pride badges or lanyards, taking part in Pride activities in your work to talking about experiences of your own, about gay family-members or friends you have. Be natural. If you are a leader, people will watch you and take cues from your behaviour. INFLUENCE OTHERS: Use whatever platform you have to share your perspective and to share other people’s stories. Have those conversations. Being an ally goes beyond just LGBT and you can show your support in other areas equally as well. LISTEN: When someone confides in you, listen. Reassure them. Ask open questions. If someone has come to you as a trusted ally, that is a great thing. So, while we celebrate Pride this month it’s important to remember why it’s important that we do so. We equally need to carry that understanding and commitment past June and through to the rest of the year. John McNamara is Managing Director of Canada Life International Assurance (Ireland), a member of the Institute’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Chairperson of the organisation behind and Related links: Institute diversity statement - Member and students event – Pride in our profession Featured story: Broad parental leave policies help families and organisations thrive FLICKR photos from the Chartered Accountants Ireland Pride festivities

Jun 20, 2019

Allies play a crucial role in the careers of LGBTQ+ people. Daniel Turley explains the difference they can make to an LGBTQ+ individual’s working environment. “I moved to Dublin with my girlfriend.” I had just started a job in a Big Four accounting firm, and that was my answer to intrigued colleagues that wanted to learn a bit more about the new guy at work. To anyone that knew me outside of work, this was very clearly not true. For one, I didn’t have a girlfriend; two, I am a gay man. However, when faced with a meeting room of partners, managers, and rugby lads, I choked – I didn’t want to give so much away about myself so soon. Saying “my boyfriend” seemed too controversial and “partner” would be a dead giveaway. My experience is not that uncommon – a Vodafone survey conducted by Out Now noted that 78% of LGBTQ+ individuals had hidden their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their life. This was mine. A second coming out Over the coming months, I slowly started to set the record (un)straight. To say that I received a positive reaction is an understatement. The responses were a mix of delight, compassion, and outright confusion – primarily as to why I felt the need to lie in the first place. I wondered that myself. What was clear for me, though, was how lucky I felt. Lucky that I had such a warm reception to my news, and lucky that I worked in a firm that was so supportive of its LGBTQ+ individuals. Management had always made it clear that discrimination would not be tolerated in the firm; however, it was the actions I saw beyond the non-discriminatory practices. I was amazed by the additional support that was on offer – a non-LGBTQ+ partner made efforts to introduce me to other LGBTQ+ leaders in the firm, and significant efforts were made to support LGBTQ+ Pride Month every year. With my firm, I got to walk the Dublin Pride parade, and I did it with a partner in the firm and her kids. Allies When I first joined the firm, the term ‘ally’ was a relatively new concept to me. I hadn’t thought of non-LGBTQ+ individuals in this way until then, but the firm had a network available to LGBTQ+ employees and allies. My experience with the network showed me how much of a difference good allies can make to an LGBTQ+ individual’s working environment. There is no one way for someone to be an LGBTQ+ ally. Allies, like gender, can fall on a spectrum, and all types of ally-ship can be equally valid when coming from the right place. This may take the form of marching in Pride parades, actively identifying and removing discriminatory practices from office culture or wearing rainbow colours. However, I also see significance in quieter forms of ally-ship. Some of the most poignant experiences I have had in the workplace have come from conversations with colleagues who aren’t necessarily familiar with the concept of what it meant for me to be gay. Allies have been there to share their experiences, speak of their LGBTQ+ family members and provide understanding. They have also been there to course correct conversations when necessary. These conversations have proven to be insightful, thoughtful and – most importantly – respectful. (They have also proven to be low-key hilarious. One fella still can’t believe that I am not physically attracted to Kelly Brook, but he’s getting there.) I’ve since moved to a different organisation. This time around, I was gay from the first moment it was relevant to the conversation. My confidence going into a new working environment as myself this time and not as a straight man comes from the inclusivity at my first firm in Dublin and the allies I found within it. Daniel Turley is a Financial Accountant in BioMarin and on the Chartered Accountants Ireland Young Professionals committee.

Jun 19, 2019

For most, figuring out parenting and your career is difficult. It can be even more so if you are an LGBT parent. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan explains how the support from his organisation enabled him and his husband to make the leap into parenthood while growing his career. Balancing a career and a family is always a juggling act. However, when your family does not fit the traditional model, it can also prove to be a minefield for all concerned, especially at work. Societal expectations of parental roles, parental names and second glances are only a few of the factors that need to be thought about before LGBT people become parents. Despite having made the decision to have children early in our relationship, it took my husband and I eight years before our son arrived into the world. With both of us being working professionals, the process of family planning started in the traditional way: how do we balance parenthood, careers and our relationship? We quickly realised that we also needed to consider society. In the end, some of it came down to practicalities, and some came down to our own values, preferences and external supports.  Parental leave One area we had to consider was managing early childcare. My firm gives enhanced paid parental leave regardless of gender and this played a big part in our decision that I would be the stay at home dad for the first seven months of our son's life, with my husband returning to work on a reduced work week. Without the seven-month paid parental leave from my firm, our family would be much different position starting out – and certainly disadvantaged compared to mums going on leave. It’s important that not only the people in an organisation are supportive to LGBT families, but that the support is reflected in the HR policies and procedures. Creating a network We always knew we would need to navigate the potential assumptions from colleagues and clients that there is a ‘mum’ at home. We quickly realised that if social assumptions were to change, we needed to be proud of our family, and not place each other back in the closet. Having same-sex parents is nothing new in Barclays. Indeed, when we were investigating how we would become parents, one of the first ports of call was Barclays LGBT network, Spectrum. There we got a greater understanding of fostering, adoption and surrogacy. The network also holds regular talks on ‘non-traditional' parenting to educate colleagues on how they can become parents and continue to build their career. While nothing would have stopped my husband and me from having our son, the information and support gained from the LGBT network in my organisation eased the process for us (as much as to-be parents can be eased when planning for their first) and normalises families like ours to colleagues and clients. Before going on paternity leave, my team did the traditional baby gift presentation and I was invited to expectant parents’ events. This not only showed support but also demonstrated inclusivity. Talent retention What I have found since going back to work is that I have become more focused and flexible. Because Barclays gave me the information on parental leave, the precious first months with my son, and the flexibility to alter my working hours to the typical parent’s life without judgements or assumptions, they have retained a committed employee and have helped create a happy family. Peter Keenan-Gavaghan is Vice President of Barclays Internal Audit – RFT & Functions Technology.

Jun 17, 2019
Ethics and Governance

With the Gender Recognition Act 2015 now in place, boards must ensure that robust, employee-focused policies are developed. Good corporate governance is now widely recognised as being sited in a sound corporate culture which includes, among other things, real respect for all persons. Most companies have a suite of policies on equality and diversity and although the human resources department is normally responsible for managing these policies, boards have an oversight role in ensuring that written policies are genuinely embedded in the practices, behaviours and reward systems of the organisation. This should include policy and procedures to cover situations where employees are gender transitioning. The Gender Recognition Act 2015 A human rights case in 2007, taken by Dr Lydia Foy, found that Ireland had an obligation to adopt a system to recognise the preferred gender of its citizens. It took until 2015 to introduce such legislation and several unfortunate clauses were removed from the Bill in its slow movement towards enactment. It was originally drafted so that gender identity would have to be established following a “medical evaluation” model. Good sense prevailed and the Act allows for a process enabling trans people over 18 years of age to achieve full legal recognition of their preferred gender and allowing them to obtain a new birth certificate reflecting the change. This preference is based on “self-determination” rather than certification by medical practitioners. It was originally proposed that married people could not apply, which would have required a “forced divorce”, but following the same-sex marriage referendum this requirement was removed. There are very restrictive provisions for persons of 16 and 17 years of age to apply for gender recognition, but there are no provisions for anyone younger than 16 to apply. Although there is no specific reference to intersex persons or to non-binary persons, it is widely assumed that the Act covers such persons. In the period between 4 September 2015 and 31 December 2015, 198 people were legally recognised under the Act, of whom eight were 16 or 17 years old.  At the time of writing, the Government had undertaken to commence a review of the workings of the Act in September 2017 and to report before September 2018. Implications for the person The main implications for a person whose preferred gender is recognised include: For all purposes, his/her gender becomes the preferred gender; She/he shall not be required to produce the certificate of gender recognition (unless by his/her own choice); His/her rights and liabilities and consequences of actions taken in the original gender remain unaffected; There will be no change to his/her parenthood status; There can be no effect on a property to be willed where the will was drawn up before the change; If desired, the marriage status can remain unchanged; and The change cannot interfere with any pursuit of an alleged sexual offence or an attempted sexual offence against him/her. Implications for the workplace Organisations need to enhance their suite of equality policies by having a specific policy covering transitioning by anyone in the organisation. While there may not be many such situations each year, it is important that a policy is thought out, discussed and agreed before a live case is presented. This policy should include: a basic statement of support; a statement of the understanding of the definitions of terms used in the policy; and an agreed procedure to support anyone who is transitioning. Statement of policy The policy should fit with the lived culture within the organisation, but might look something like: “As part of our suite of policies on equality and diversity, the board has approved this policy on gender transitioning to amplify our culture of welcoming and respecting diversity. We undertake to provide appropriate support to any person who is transitioning either with or without medical/surgical intervention. We will not tolerate any behaviour which disrespects or damages the dignity of any such person or engages in any form of bullying, sexual harassment or harassment. “We recognise that, while most people’s gender identity matches their sex assignment at birth, there is a small number of people for whom the sex assignment at birth does not match their innate feeling of being male or female. For those people who wish to transition, i.e. to align their life and physical identity with their gender identity, we undertake to be a safe and respectful workplace in accordance with our culture but also in compliance with the requirements and the spirit of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. The most commonly acceptable term used to describe people who wish to transition is “trans” and that term will be used in this policy. “Just as gay, lesbian and bisexual employees are welcome here, so also are employees who are trans. We recognise that a transitioning employee must come out to us, as his/her employer, so that she/he can live consistently with their preferred gender identity and we undertake to become fully involved to support this process. We recognise that each person will have different needs and so, this policy is as flexible as possible to tailor support as appropriate.” Definitions For the purpose of clarity, the policy should state the definitions of terms that should underpin the organisation’s policy. These might include: Gender identity: this means a person’s innate, deeply-felt psychological identification as male or female. This may or may not correspond to the person’s body or designated sex at birth and included on the original birth certificate. This term is not the same as ‘sexual orientation’, which is the preferred term used to refer to an individual’s physical and/or emotional attraction to people of the same or opposite gender. Gender expression: this refers to the observed signs and behaviours that are socially associated with the masculine or the feminine. So this includes dress, manner of speaking, moving, wearing make-up, hairstyles, social interaction and so on. Of course, this can vary from culture to culture. Some trans people feel very strongly that they need to live in their real identity and this can involve a transitioning journey including steps such as changing their names, having hormone therapy or undergoing surgery. Not all trans people want to transition in this way. Some don’t clearly identify as either male or female, but see themselves as being on a gender spectrum between male and female and would consider themselves as being both. Trans: trans people are those whose gender identity does not match the gender assigned. This is an umbrella term that includes people of different gender identities and gender presentations. It includes people who are transsexual, cross-dressers or gender non-conforming in other ways. Non-binary: again, this is an inclusive term that covers all identities that fall outside the clear male/female identity. This includes people who identify as neither completely male nor female; people who identify as both male and female or in any way between or beyond genders. People in this category may describe themselves by a variety of terms such as gender fluid, or bi-gender or gender neutral. Transitioning: this is the journey travelled by those who wish to change from the gender assigned to the gender with which they identify. It might include social, physical or legal changes. It can involve a range of actions including coming out to family, friends and colleagues at work. It can include changing appearance, changing sex designation on legal documents and asking to be referred to a ‘he/him’ instead of ‘she/her’ or vice versa. It may or may not involve medical and/or surgical assistance. Transsexual: this term is limited in its use as it focusses on the polar identities of male and female. It has been confused with sexuality or sexual orientation rather than gender identity. It is a term we will avoid. Cross-dressers and transvestites: a transvestite or cross-dressing person is someone who sometimes wears clothing, make-up and accessories which are not traditionally associated with his/her assigned gender. Usually, this is not associated with any desire to change assigned gender identity and it has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Intersex people: an intersex person was born with one of a range of conditions whereby their reproductive organs do not fit the typical definitions of female or male. They may have surgery to assign gender (i.e. as opposed to trans people who may have surgery to re-assign gender). Sexual orientation: this is the term used to refer to a person’s attraction to the same and/or the opposite gender. Homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual are all descriptions of a person’s sexual orientation. It is not the same as a person’s gender identity. Transphobia: this is the fear, dislike or hatred of a trans person/trans people. People who experience transphobia assume that there is a normal way for men and women to look and behave and diverging from that is ‘abnormal’. Often, derogative and offensive language can be used such as ‘sex change’. ‘she-male’, ‘gender bender’, ‘hermaphrodite’ etc. Policy In writing a policy suitable for your organisation, it will be important to engage in organisation-wide consultation. There is no template for such a policy, but it might be useful to include the following headings and populate each section with procedures: A basic statement of assurance that trans employees and stakeholders will be treated with respect and dignity; A basic statement that all other employees are required to comply with the policy and failure to comply will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment; An undertaking to take action should customers, suppliers, contractors or other stakeholders discriminate against our employees because of their gender identity; A statement that the policy is dynamic and will be amended as experience is gained in the area. It should include a hope that trans employees and other stakeholders will assist the organisation in reviewing and improving these guidelines; Guidelines for employees should be included, inviting them to make contact in advance of transitioning to discuss intentions, needs and concerns; Provision should be made for a support team and its procedures; Some consideration of how the dress code will operate and assurance that the gender identity preferred will be respected within the provisions of the normal code for employees of that gender; Procedures around the rights to use gender-segregated bathroom facilities. Where necessary, single-occupancy facilities will be provided consistent with the preferred identity; A statement on the eligibility of a trans employee to all welfare rights available to staff; Clarity around the right to confidentiality and the manner in which the change of identity is to be disclosed to colleagues; Guidelines for managers to whom an employee’s intention to transition is disclosed. This should include all the issues referred to above and practical issues such as name change, pronoun change, email nomenclature and the availability of sick pay, if appropriate; and Guidelines for the process of disclosing to colleagues, taking into account the wishes of the person who is changing. This might include a general meeting or may be done on a person-by-person basis. Overriding requirement The most important issue is to ensure that colleagues who have decided to transition, whether surgically, medically or without such intervention, should know that they are valued in the organisation; that their decision is respected and that they will be supported in the manner in which they would like to transition in the workplace. Prof. Patricia Barker FCA is Adjunct Professor of Accounting at Dublin City University.

Oct 02, 2017