Maintaining Pride and Unity in Uncertain Times

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Scott De Buitléir
Published May 19, 2020

COVID-19 has accentuated our online/offline life (im)balance and it can be difficult not to get overwhelmed by everything.

Nowadays, we are all inundated with online meetings, whether it is for work or the new sets of social and volunteering calls that have started to dominate our personal calendars.

The unprecedented situation we find ourselves in is also exactly why it is more important than ever to constantly develop and empower essential support mechanisms such as F5’s employee inclusion groups (EIG).

It may seem like a million years ago since we hosted our first EMEA LGBT+ @ Work Symposium in London (which included the official launch of the UK & Ireland branch of F5 Pride), but our work behind the scenes has continued apace. In many ways our mission is only just getting started.

A new approach

What mission, you might ask? Ours is a simple one: to make sure that F5 is a welcoming, open, and diverse place to work.

It is a mission  we share with our other EIGs, and one that is all about creating an environment wherein we can learn from our collective diversity while also supporting employees wherever and whenever they need it.

Having said that, our action plan is different from when we started our EMEA Pride planning earlier this year.

In particular, the pandemic has forced all social and informative events online (with all the technical nuances that entails). That alone is a hugely important move, as there has never been a stronger reason for being available to those that feel lonely, unprotected, or worse, in danger.

Recently, the ILGA-Europe Rainbow Map and Index 2020 revealed that even once-leading countries in Europe are now falling behind in their commitments to equality for LGBT+ people.

In fact, the report – which mined the laws and policies in 49 countries across a set of criteria – noted that there has been no positive change in 49% of countries in the past year. Surveyed countries are also moving backwards on the Rainbow Index for a second year in a row. Now is definitely not the time for regression of any kind, and our EIGs will be integral to F5’s ability to support its staff.

Responding as a community

For F5 Pride in EMEA, that means ramping up collaborative work with our allies, friends, and colleagues to continually enhance the reach and impact of our work.  From organised events and initiatives, to informal chats and morale-boosting laughs, we are here for anyone that needs us.

Over the coming months, our Pride Leaders will roll out a series of EMEA-wide online events to further help our collective community – LGBT+ and beyond – to connect, relax, and learn together. Among other things, the events will feature trivia quizzes, speaker webinars, Pride history discussions, and online social gathering.

As we move ahead with our plans, we will also be sure to take inspiration from the fact that Cork, our EMEA home for NGINX, was recently declared a Rainbow City to draw attention to LGBT+ visibility and equality across Europe. For the UKI branch of F5 Pride, we will be working build on a a similar environment of openness, awareness, and inclusivity at our offices. While I believe F5 is already a very much a Rainbow Workplace, there is always more that can be done. Watch this space!

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