Pink, green, yellow, purple and red balloons. Frisky 90´beats from giant speakers, and a smell of beer, cider and champagne. That was the scene when Deloitters danced through the streets of Copenhagen in a celebration of diversity, inclusion and respect.
Among the smiling faces was Lasse Posborg Michelsen. Two years ago, he founded the Deloitte Denmark’s LGBT+ network ‘GLOBE’ together with his Danish colleague Henning Michel. They wanted to make a forum for LGBT+ employees in Deloitte to create awareness about diversity at the workplace.
“Personally, I think it is easier to feel comfortable being yourself at work as an LGBT person, if you are introduced to an LGBT+ community from the very first day at work in a company. It is a clear signal that you are welcome and accepted,” Lasse Posborg Michelsen says.
Lasse Posborg Michelsen (in orange) welcomed the Deloitters for this year’s Pride Parade. To his left is Mathilde Nærland, member of the LGBT+ community in Deloitte.
“Sexuality and gender expression say little about a person’s professional competencies. But it has everything to do with who you are, also at work. It is not just a matter of the right to be yourself, it is also a matter of social life. It comes down to which club you and your colleagues go to after work. In this sense I think it is rather natural for an LGBT+ person to want an LGBT+ network at work.”
That is why he decided to start the LGBT+ community. And now, two years later, he finds it extremely rewarding to be able to meet with other LGBT+ people at work, sharing experiences from daily life and discussing how to take inclusion, diversity and respect to the next level.
In that regard, Lasse Posborg Michelsen considers Deloitte a good place to work.
”Deloitte is in many ways a progressive and inclusive workplace. I have never found myself in a situation where people treated me badly,” he says.
“Today is a celebration of diversity, which means that we pay tribute to all our differences. This is crucial if we want a corporate community build on diversity of thought.”
“With the polarisation that the world witnesses at the moment, we need to emphasise that we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. That all individuals are equal, and that we care for each other.”
– Deloitte CEO, Anders Dons (to the right)
An active community all year round
During the year, the LGBT+ community meets regularly for debates, talks and cozy get-togethers. One event that always inspires to interesting conversations is the annual LGBT+ film festival MIX Copenhagen.
“Experiencing LGBT+ culture together is a way to make space for conversations that you might otherwise not have. Creating openness is more than having the right to state your gender identity or your sexuality. It is also about being able to share your story,” Lasse Posborg Michelsen explains.
Another example of an event that opened an important discussion was a recent panel discussion about humor at work, spiced up with entertaining aspects of humor from a comedian. It was held in corporation with Danish LGBT Business Network.
“How do you cope with a joke in the office that is offensive and excluding? The event was meant to start a conversation about how LGBT+ employees and allies can handle and disrupt such a culture,” Lasse Posborg Michelsen says.
He also experiences partners from Deloitte contacting him about how to tackle such scenarios.
“It emphasizes that to be able to create positive changes for a minority group, first you need a community where members of that group can speak their minds, and then you need the leaders’ awareness and support.”
Making Pride authentic
Mathilde Nærland is a young consultant in Deloitte who is also a member of GLOBE and who helped arrange this year’s Pride Parade.
“In many companies, the LGBT+ agenda is an HR-initiative. The good thing about Deloitte is that it is initiated by our internal LGBT+ community by the employees themselves. That makes it authentic and real,” she says.
Making diversity, inclusion and respect authentic and real is also high on the agenda of Deloitte’s talent leader, Camilla Kruse, who spent her Saturday afternoon celebrating Pride together with her colleagues and her daughter.
“We want to mark our commitment to this agenda, making room for everyone and celebrating the differences in society as well as in Deloitte. To make this happen, we believe it must grow from within. Our LGBT+ network makes sure that this is not just a one-day celebration but an on-going process, and it is our role as employers to support this work, both morally, financially and practically,” she says.
“We have come a long way on the diversity agenda, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” Camilla Kruse ads.
“Pride is one of the important initiatives, but we need to make diversity, inclusion and respect a bigger part of everyday life. That requires people to dare sharing more personal experiences and to dare showing all aspects of themselves, not just in regard to e.g. homosexuality but in general,” she adds.
No need to hide at work
To Mathilde Nærland, it is important not to feel that she has to be private around her personal relationships at work.
“Who I choose to live my life with is a big part of who I am. So, if I did not feel accepted at work, or if I felt that my colleagues did not approve of the sides that I come with, I would definitely look for another job. I hope everyone would do that, regardless of the matter.”
Therefore, it means a lot to Mathilde Nærland that her company celebrated Pride last Saturday. Also in light of the critique that the LGBT+ agenda has been under for being hypocritical – also referred to as ‘pink washing’.
“If a company chooses not to be present at the Copenhagen Pride Parade, it could be perceived as a bad signal by the public. Oppositely, if a company is present at Pride, it may be considered pink washing,” she says, adding:
“Diversity should be omnipresent all year round, in all our initiatives, and not just during Pride. These days, I feel like Pride has become a matter of finger pointing, and I think we should all just embrace the fact that on this special occasion we are really just celebrating love and diversity.”
Both Mathilde Nærland and Lasse Posborg Michelsen agree that Deloitte has a high degree of focus on the topic.
“During the last couple of years, the focus on diversity, inclusion and respect in Deloitte has moved from something that nobody really talked about to something that is highly prioritised by the executive team. It is not that people has changed their view on diversity, but I see a higher awareness of the topic,” Lasse Posborg Michelsen says.