LGBT ally helps to build inclusive workplace

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A fire and rescue service community safety worker became an LGBT ally after witnessing the discrimination faced by the community at the height of the 80s AIDS crisis.

SFRS Community Safety Advocate, Lynn Sweeney saw the intrusion and discrimination on LGBT people’s lives when working as a financial advisor in Glasgow, when one of the first major outbreaks of the AIDS virus was recorded.

Now as the Service marks LGBT History Month, Lynn is encouraging others to learn from the past, and help create inclusive workplaces and an equal society for all.

She said: “I worked as a Financial Advisor in Glasgow when the first outbreak of HIV/AIDS was recorded in June 1981.

“I remember arranging life insurance for LGBT couples and having to complete the most horrendous questionnaires about their lifestyle and sexual activity - this form was a wakeup call. I tried to be as supportive to my clients as possible and many of them became friends. I learned so much about being part of the LGBT community and what that meant to people trying to live their lives. “

“Being a female in the male dominated financial sector, I knew what it felt like to feel isolated, unsupported and treated differently. Our LGBT colleagues can offer us so much insight into how we can work more effectively in the community as well as in our own organisation.

“We are a diverse society and every organisation should reflect that diversity in their workforce.”

And Lynn believes that LGBT Allies have a leading role in helping to break down barriers.

She said: “I’m proud to be an LGBT Ally, I don’t always get it right, I don’t fully understand what it means to be LGBT but I ask questions. I admit my limitations and I’ve learned that it is ok to ask and admit we don’t know.

“Let’s celebrate LGBT history month with conviction and passion. This is not a tick box exercise.”

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