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F5 Expands LGBTQ+ Support in EMEA

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Published February 28, 2020
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F5 announced the launch of the UK and Ireland (UKI) branch of its F5 Pride Employee Inclusion Group (EIG) this week.

It also hosted the company’s first pan-EMEA F5 Pride: LGBTQ+ @ Work Symposium, highlighting best practices for diversity and inclusion, as well as mapping out plans to further bolster company-wide support for LGBTQ+ staff.

The activities follow on from F5’s recent unveiling of its new “Code Connects Us All” (CCUA) vision and ethos. CCAU is all about informing F5’s code of ethics, from inclusivity and community support to the way its product teams innovate.

Sarah Campbell, Head of Conferences and Events at Stonewall, kicked off proceedings by discussing the importance of proactive employee action, and the potential for inclusion groups to enhance diversity, acceptance and business outcomes.

“LGBTQ+ employee network groups are invaluable in so many ways. They provide peer support to individuals and help organisations get their policies and practices right. When done correctly, this kind of initiative can have a significant positive impact on both staff and the wider community,” she told an audience of F5 staff attending in person and dialling in from across EMEA.

Citing Stonewall’s extensive LGBT in Britain – Work Report, Sarah highlighted how almost one in five surveyed LGBT people have experienced negative comments in the workplace. The same proportion of LGBT ethnic minorities said that their sexual orientation overtly curtailed promotion opportunities.

Other alarming findings include the fact that one in eight transgender people had been physically attacked by a colleague or customer. Furthermore, nearly two in five bi respondents remain closeted due to perception concerns, whereas one in three identifying as non-binary feel they cannot wear attire suited to their identity.  

In addition to the moral imperative for LGBTQ+ equality in the workplace, Sarah also spoke about the practical business case for doing more.

“It just makes strong business sense, whether it is attracting talent, increasing employee satisfaction, enhancing the company image or improving decision-making by integrating a greater diversity of personalities and perspectives,” she added.

According to Stonewall, the key tenets of a successful network or EIG group are to promote peer-to-peer support mechanisms, raise awareness (internally and externally) and establish a clear culture of accountability. Long-term success will require representatives for specific identities (which can include people from a range of backgrounds and orientations), engaging non-LGBTQ allies, and working with external support groups and communities.

Perry Glikman, a principal CM engineer at F5, was up next to describe how he is bringing these exact values and tactics to life in Israel.

Since forming in January last year, F5 Pride in Tel Aviv has gone from strength to strength, growing in numbers and facilitating a wide range of awareness-raising, activism and community-building projects. The successes and lessons learned to date are already influencing the wider rollout of F5 Pride in EMEA.

“My vision is that everyone at F5 is comfortable expressing and celebrating who they truly are,” Perry explained.

“I urge everyone to think about their colleagues and friends. What do they need to be comfortable and happy in their own skin at work? How can you contribute to that? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how you can make a difference – whatever your background and wherever you are based.”

The day concluded with the official launch of the UKI branch of F5 Pride, which will be spearheaded by NGINX’s Cork-based Scott De Buitléir and Stephen Spillane.

Both are ideally placed to make an immediate impact. Scott, who is a content marketing manager, has previously worked for seven years in LGBT media and broadcasting, and is the founder of LGBT magazine EILE. He is also a published author and poet in both English and Irish Gaelic.

Stephen, NGINX’s office manager in Cork, is also a prominent voice in the media, having written for both local and national publications on LGBT issues, as well as holding prominent positions within a variety of political and church organisations. He is a former committee member of groups such as UCC LGBT, USI LGBT and Changing Attitude Ireland.

F5’s EIG groups are specifically designed to make a difference in the workplace, playing a pivotal role in supporting both internal and external communities. Each group has full executive and company backing.

In addition to F5 Pride, F5’s EIG groups include F5 Appreciates Blackness (committed to sharing the culture and background of all people of African descent); Multicultural (committed to attracting and developing a more diverse workforce); F5 Military Veterans (striving to actively promote, recruit, and support military veterans and families via programs of recognition, assistance, and outreach), Latinx y Hispanos Unidos (growing the Latinx and Hispanic presence at F5 through support and outreach); and F5 Connects Women (uniting F5 employees around the world to support the equality and advancement of women).

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