If someone had told me seven years ago that I would be walking around the Sydney CBD to a Mardi Gras rehearsal wearing a t-shirt with the word ‘love’ in rainbow colours on it, I wouldn’t have believed them.
The me seven years ago would have packed another shirt to change into. The me seven years ago would have hidden my authentic self — afraid to be judged because of my sexuality.
Because it was only seven years ago when former colleagues decided not to associate with me in the office when they found out I was gay.
Seven years on and a lot has changed — thankfully for me and the wider LGBTQI+ community. I’m fortunate enough to work in a team and for a company that champions diversity in all its rainbow and diverse colours. But it’s not the case for everyone. Given that 61% of LGBTQI+ Australians are not out at work, it’s never been more important for businesses to create safe spaces through equality groups and participate in events like Mardi Gras for people to feel comfortable to be their true selves at work.
Showing up as Team Pride
Truth be told, it took me a decade until I felt comfortable to attend Sydney’s Mardi Gras in person — and to finally understand the parade’s significance for the LGBTIQ+ community in its diverse, inclusive and intersectional glory. I was inspired by people in the community and corporate floats and wanted to learn more, get involved and even work for the organisations someday. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I joined Salesforce.
These days I know exactly what to think about Mardi Gras and why it’s important to support it each year — the parade is a beacon of equality, inclusion and intersectionality. And I couldn’t be prouder to co-lead Salesforce’’s 2022 Mardi Gras entry into the parade together with Alanna Woodrow.
This year, our Mardi Gras theme ‘Team Pride’ aligned closely to what Salesforce stands for: coming together as a team to create change. It’s how we show up each day as a business and it’s how we show up at Mardi Gras. Nothing says “there is no ‘I’ in team” more than 40 Outforce (our Diversity & Inclusion group for the LGBTIQ+ community) members — masked and RAT tested — learning to synchronise two different dance moves to march in front of a cheering crowd of 50,000 in the name of equality.
Marching under the Salesforce banner is an extremely proud moment for all of Salesforce; we get to stand up for what we believe in while being visible, vocal and proud with our community. And this year, for the first time ever, we were joined by our mascot Astro dancing their way down the pitch.
Outforce: More than a once a year movement
Equality is at the heart of Salesforce, which means the cause we are representing is the focus. While Mardi Gras is an important and spectacular event in the LGBTQI+ calendar, it is one element of the impact Outforce has on the community.
For us, it’s also about the work we do behind the scenes. Lobbying for LGBTQI+ rights, showing up where it counts, and lending our voices to movements and policies that can change the lives of individuals. Policies such as the Religious Discrimination Bill. As part of our advocacy work we collaborated with our internal government team who have relationships with government bodies to be brought into the conversation around the Bill. And it wasn’t just Outforce, Salesforce’s equality group Faithforce contributed their voice to ensure all opinions were heard.
What we have learnt as an equality group and as an organisation you need to be willing to move fast on these issues and have leaders who are willing to advocate from the top. Because leadership is nothing without action.
A lot may have changed since 2017, but there is still so much to do around diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQI+ community. You only have to read the following statements from my fellow Outforce members to recognise the important role equality groups and events like Mardi Gras play in creating an equal world for all and safe spaces for people to be their authentic selves.