For all of us, the last 12 months have blended in our minds to one long indistinguishable moment of lockdown, anxiety, working from home, listening to news updates, and case numbers. There’s no point in pretending that the pandemic has not dramatically and radically changed how we live, work, communicate, and connect with one another.
Despite the challenges and tragedies, there are some small moments of gratitude and hope from the same time period. We have never been more conscious of our health, our environments, our communities, our neighbours, and our collective welfare. We have also never been more aware of our various levels of privilege; not just in relation to access to healthcare (shoutout to the UK’s NHS and Ireland’s HSE), but also on a social level as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests. Our world has changed, and although the permanence of such change is yet to be tested, hope for a better world remains.
It is in that spirit of hope for a better society that last February, we launched the regional chapter of our F5 Pride employee inclusion group (EIG) for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. In the final weeks before the first lockdown in both countries, we gathered together in our London City office to expand on the work previously done by our colleagues in the US and Israel to support F5’s LGBT+ employees, share their experiences, and discuss topics of interest for the LGBT+ community and their allies, both within and outside of the workplace. Our launch featured a presentation by UK-based charity, Stonewall, to explain LGBT+ issues at work, and how F5 can continue on its path to be a diverse, open, and inclusive workplace for all.
That launch was warmly supported by many F5ers, many of whom allies to the LGBT+ community, which gave us in the EIG great encouragement to curate and organise events on behalf of our colleagues. We hosted our inaugural EMEA Pride Week, which featured discussions on intersectionality, history, representation (including in a truly digital context, such as video gaming!), and more. We raised funds for mental health charities as part of our Giving Tuesday campaign, and even managed to convince a top London-based drag queen to host a trivia quiz for charity, MindOUT! Most importantly for our staff, we have also signed up to become a Stonewall Global Diversity Champion, with the intention to ensure our workplace policies and culture is designed to reflect a truly inclusive and diverse company, one which all of F5 can be proud of.
Although we have already achieved much in the last twelve months, despite the upheaval brought by the pandemic, I still regard our mission and work in the F5 Pride EMEA group as in its infancy. We will continue to explore ways to support our colleagues, empower our allies, remove barriers against inclusion, and open new ways to learn and grow together. We will work with our colleagues and partners in other parts of EMEA and the world to help LGBT+ colleagues and their communities, as well as working with other employee inclusion groups, such as F5 Abilities, F5 Appreciates Blackness and F5 Connects Women, where there are overlapping goals.
In short, the last 12 months have been a source of pride, in many senses of the word, but we are really only getting started. I hope you will join us on our journey.
To learn more about diversity and inclusion at F5, visit www.f5.com/company/diversity-inclusion