With the words “you can’t be what you can’t see” ringing in his ears, Yarra Valley Water (YVW) Senior Project Manager Brendan Moore set out to increase diversity and inclusion in his already award-winning workplace.
Moore is the inaugural chair of YVW’s LGBTIQ+ Diversity Working Group. This is an employee-led initiative made up of LGBTIQ+ community members and allies who offer support and education to staff about why inclusion and representation are so important.
When the group was set up in 2017, the percentage of YVW employees who identified as LGBTIQ+ was just 3.6%. A year later, this number had nearly doubled.
“Whether it comes down to new hires who were attracted to the company and felt comfortable enough to be out from the start, or whether it was people who were already in the organisation and finally felt they had representation and safety to be a little bit more open at work, both are great things,” Moore said.
“We’re really heartened by the success we’ve had.”
The group is a reflection of YVW’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2019-2021, which sets out the organisation’s commitment to embrace a ‘whole of person’ and ‘whole of organisation’ approach to truly benefit from its diverse workforce.
“What we’re trying to get across is, when I come to work and someone asks what I did on the weekend, I want to be comfortable enough to say my boyfriend and I went out to dinner,” Moore said.
“Or if I ever get engaged, now we can legally get married, I’d be excited to come to work and share it with my colleagues.”
Hear more from Brendan Moore:
YVW is the first organisation where Moore has been ‘out’ in a professional sense. He previously worked as an engineer in regional communities, where he said openness, acceptance and inclusion weren’t always common, despite the recognised benefits for businesses.
He said creating an inclusive culture isn’t only good for employees’ mental health and morale – it also has economic benefits for employers.
“Some of the studies that support this include links to increases in productivity when people feel comfortable to be out at work,” Moore said.
“The level of innovation skyrockets as well. From a business perspective, why wouldn’t you want to get the most out of your employees?”
Following the success of the working group, the next step is to establish a pride network at YVW to support the LGBTIQ+ community and connect members with allies in the industry. But Moore has bigger dreams as well.
“Our stretch goals include reaching out to other Victorian water authorities, which we’ve had some success with so far, and creating a Victoria-wide pride network,” he said.
“And eventually, because we’re ambitious, an Australia-wide one as well.”
Is there something like this happening in your organisation? Why not submit a paper, panel or workshop on the theme of Diversity, Inclusion & Equity for Ozwater’20? To find out more, click here.