Kelly Cowley is a National Insurance Interviewing Officer at the Oxford Job Centre (Department for Work and Pensions).
For me being a LGBT+ Ally means to stand alongside my colleagues in their fight for equality and inclusion. To stand up and be counted and to challenge some of the negative behaviours that I see around me. I have always held a strong belief that people have the right to be heard and as an Ally, I feel proud (yes that word) to be able to lend my support to my colleagues and play an active part in the great work they are doing – in not only educating others but also ensuring that everyone can rightly feel they can ‘Be me in DWP’.
For the last couple of years I have helped at a couple of events in regards to DWPride (DWPride being the departments support group for LGBT+ colleagues and their allies) and on the whole have been impressed at how most people have embraced these events. Just over a year ago I was given the task of arranging an event, which was to bring the different teams and sections in my area together. Along with the work based sessions, to ensure all sections were represented I was really keen to have a session dedicated to DWPride and its role within the department as a whole.
I approached Mark Lambert, the local DWPride officer to see if this was something that he would be happy to do. Of course, he was more than happy but did warn me that I may face some opposition as not everyone was on-board with what DWPride meant or stood for. So at various planning meetings I gave my reasons for wanting these sessions, explained how important they were and how they would not only help personal and group Inclusivity and equality it was also essential that new starters as well as more established colleagues understood what DWP Pride stood for and how they could get involved – or access resources.
The event went very well and so many people said how much they enjoyed the session that Mark presented – how they now had a better understanding what DWPride is, why it is needed and of some of the issues faced within and by the LGBT+ community: and how they could play a part in ensuring that discrimination and negative behaviours could be challenged constructively.
I feel the mood is, thankfully, changing in relation to equality and inclusion and while there is some way to go, it does seem to be changing for the better and I will be there supporting everyone on this journey
Introducing our new resources for allies. Want to be a good ally to your LGBT+ colleagues? We’ve produced and collated a range of resources to help you.