National Coming Out Day 2019

The ESO's Joshua Paton shares why National Coming Out Day is important and how small everyday changes can make a big difference. 

I passionately believe in Coming Out Day and I see it as a great opportunity to embrace our differences and celebrate diversity. This year I’ve been working with  Emily Backhouse  and the Pride steering group to organise our Birmingham and London Pride Parades, Summer of Pride reflective comms campaign, Stonewall Workplace Equality Index submission, and supported World Pride in New York. 

I’m really looking forward to increasing our span and engagement across the business in the coming year and organising more educational and inclusive events around the calendar. 

However, diversity isn’t just a one day topic. You can make small, everyday changes to help create a more inclusive workplace and society. For example, I include these words on my email signature: “Pronouns: He, Him, His. Want to know why I use these? Ask me” to raise awareness of gender identity and encourage conversations around it.

Talking about the gender a colleague might identify as (I use he, him, his -  which means I identify as male) is much better than making assumptions, which can be wrong. So I could be called Josh but identify as male, female, or non-binary, which means I don’t see myself as either male or female.

If someone identifies as a different gender to which they were assigned at birth, we may not know how to properly address them and we might even shy away from talking to them because we’re worried about causing offence (and by the way you shouldn’t, we all make mistakes when we’re trying to get to know someone, regardless of their gender identity).

By normalising the sharing of pronouns we are making life more inclusive and comfortable for those who are not cisgender (a word which describes someone who identifies as the same sex as assigned at birth, like myself) and help everyone feel more open talking about gender and its differences. I’ve found my email signpost has really helped to prompt some interesting discussion – try it!