"I find it very important to be able to express myself freely about what is happening in my life," says Davy Ghysels, Marketing Director of Hays Belgium. "I feel very happy to be able to work in a setting as open as Hays, a place where I can really be me."
"For us, the way our employees treat their business, colleagues, candidates and customers is much more important than their sexual orientation," says Elise Denecker, Head of People & Culture at Hays Belgium. "It's the mentality that every business has to have."
Defend what you grow
However, an inclusive work environment is much more than that. It's about being allies, which means supporting the equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ + community through your business; for example, fighting against heteronormative assumptions - the automatic assumption that any new, "normal" person you meet is heterosexual.
"It does not matter who you are with," Denecker affirms. "I believe in equal rights for all, and gender equality, and I am against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. By transmitting this message inside Hays and beyond, I want to position myself as an ally of the LGBTQ+ community."
An entourage that supports
According to Ghysels, there are two essential elements: "Respect and acceptance are fundamental values. We are all the same: we all have our concerns, goals, challenges and doubts. Think carefully before you speak. Especially for someone who has not yet come out, one misplaced word can have a huge impact on their life."
"At home, sexual orientation is never part of a selection process," says Denecker. "For us, the priority is what can be brought to the company and colleagues. I also learned that there is no harm in asking questions when in doubt, even when dealing with a trivial thing such as language or terminology. In the case of in vitro fertilization, for example, more appropriate phasing would be asking who the donor is, rather than the father."
"Certainly, we must not hesitate to ask questions," confirms Ghysels. "In turn, knowing the right terms helps individuals speak more comfortably and without worry. If any coworker in question is ready to share parts of their personal life, there is so much to learn from and about them."
Result: a better work environment
Being comfortable in your workplace means less time and energy spent on social stress and stigma, and more focus being put towards actually working, supporting the team, and company.
"As I could be me, I became a better manager," adds Ghysels. "I could better support our business and help others succeed on their own."
"A work environment that includes the LGBTQ + community, and everyone in fact, only has benefits for well-being, productivity, and corporate culture," Elise concludes. "We can always do better, but I'm already very proud to have made great strides in the right direction with Hays."
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