Speaker on Diversity & Inclusion

You are a speaker and specialist on Diversity & Inclusion. How important do you think Diversity and Inclusion is in the workplace both for the individual and the general workplace environment?
We talk about the DE&I sector like it is focused on huge sweeping swathes of change – and whilst some long-term goals may be about this – DE&I is actually about much smaller things. The work I do aims to create safe spaces for marginalised folks to be seen, appreciated and reach their full potential. One of the biggest ways I can currently promote the need for change is by highlighting the benefits that genuine inclusion can create. Workforces where marginalised groups are shown genuine allyship and support, feel safer. This frees so much space to allow all employees to reach their full potential. This then extends to anyone interacting with the workplace, whether that be external clients or advertising output – and creates long-lasting impact and change. Every time a person feels that can authentically show up, their ability is no longer stunted or reduced. The focus on diversity and inclusion should be a top five priority for all workplaces in 2022 and beyond.

How does one go about creating a successful Diversity and Inclusion policy?
The first and perhaps most necessary step is to listen to those with experiences out of your purview. There are so many outstanding consultants and organisations that can show you a whole world of difference to help businesses identify what is missing in their current policies. Begin with small things like inclusive language policies with all employees in the business expected to adopt – the way we are referred to in text and spoken about/to can go a very long way to make us either feel isolated or included. Never overlook the small things! DE&I policies are often shaped by the current diversity in the business – so hiring is a key part of creating a culture of change in your business. Exploring bias and how decisions are made during hiring is a very important part of creating the culture of your business and how a DE&I policy will be enacted.

How valuable are Allies to the LGBTQ+ community, and how can they help to advance that community?
Allies act as a bridge between marginalised people and mainstream society. Allyship is not a single action, moreover, it is a constant state to help those who have less privilege than yourself. Allyship is an awareness that all people have different barriers and restrictions placed on them. You need to immerse yourself in other people’s experiences to learn and grow empathy – and then use this to drive to create knowledge and cultural intelligence, which can then be used to create strategy, and eventually lead to action. This requires accountability – that we can all have – and you can use this as a constant measure of where we can all – as individuals – create change.

The LGBTQ+ community has gained so much in the past 50 years and since the first Pride March in the UK. So why is there still a need for Pride events? And what more needs to be done?
Corporate Pride has become a behemoth, with rainbow logos, and an unnecessary focus on constant consumption to show your loyalty to the community. This does very little for the actual needs of the community, and creates a hyper-focus from media outlets outside of the LGBTQIA+ community, suggesting that all we want is a naff rainbow t-shirt. I am all for participation in Pride, but for it to be representative of its roots, and more inclusive, the people involved have to understand there is just as much to fight for – if not more in the light of increased activity of organisations like LGB alliance – as well as the celebration. Just as the first official pride march in 1970 pushed black and brown gender non-conforming people to the side, the current movement is just as exclusive, and this needs to change. We need to prioritise inclusion and acceptance – which is an LGBTQIA+ internal issue too and recognise the power of a united community for us to be able to evolve and create more change. Pride is often confused, and seen as an indulgent display of sexuality and ‘love is love’ messaging. The origins of pride come from an uprising, a backlash to discriminatory behaviour. It’s not about who threw the first brick at Stonewall – no one knows anyway – it’s about seeing the missing rights that still exist in our society. We have come so far, yet still don’t have universal rights for all queer people, trans and intersex people are still suffering from poor governance, and terrible legislation. So Pride to me is a very poignant reminder each year, of just how much more work needs to be done. It has such importance to the community, that every year we must remember that until we’re all free- none of us are free.

What inspired you to write The Book of Non-Binary Joy? And how does one achieve a state of Non-Binary Joy?
Coming to terms with my own gender identity has been one of the hardest and most important parts of my life and has made me the person I am today. However, it has also been one of the most isolating things I have had to do. Causing issues in relationships, family, and my day-to-day happiness. Sadly you don’t get to be non-binary on your own terms currently. People who you meet in the street are never short of critique. The next physical altercation may only be just around the corner. Hate crimes are at an all-time high in the U.K., and this isn’t just being attacked on the street. It manifests as abuse on Twitter, death threats, and hatred posted by faceless accounts online. This is a lot for any person to bear, and I wouldn’t ever want to downplay this. However, there is a clear need for more resources that exist outside the hate. This was one of my main focuses when I was creating the book of non-binary joy – I wanted a safe space for non-binary people to be able to love themselves and work out who they want to be. My work and attitude always aim to ensure young non-binary people don’t ever have to question their right to exist as their authentic selves. To achieve a state of non-binary joy is to exist despite the hostile environment we exist in. To be able to find peace and happiness. It is to exist as you wish to do so – just that and nothing else. It isn’t always easy, but there are glimpses of it every day you choose to put yourself first.

Sum up Ben Pechey in three words.
Driven Compassionate Learning

Who do you admire and respect in the world?
Trans people! To choose to honour who we are in one of the most hostile environments is a testament to how important it is to be exactly who you are. I admire the sacrifices made by trans people past that have helped us to where we are today in terms of rights like Marsha P Johnson. Trans people hold so much power, and resilience – we deserve the world.

What’s a typical day in the life of Ben Pechey?
There is no such thing as a typical day for me – and I love it that way!