Straight Ally Spotlight: Diana Holland

Diana Holland is UNITE Assistant General Secretary for Equalities and industries across the union. She has supported LGBT+ workers facing harassment, campaigned for equal rights – on travel passes, family policy, pensions – winning change at work, in the community, and in law. Always a passionate advocate for equality for all, including when there were no legal rights, she has ensured LGBT+ structures are established, active, and involve the diversity of LGBT+ workers. She supported the inclusion of LGBTI equality in the Global trade union agenda, as Labour Party Treasurer promotes diversity funds, and as Party Chair promoted LGBT+ Labour’s affiliation.

Hi Diana! How important is it that LGBT people feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work?

Very important. If there is fear, lack of confidence, open or underhand discrimination, LGBT+ people will not be able to use or develop their talents and skills. If division, prejudice or discrimination decides who gets a job, training or promotion, this is bad for the LGBT+ person facing it and the workforce as a whole, including employers.

Recent research at Stonewall suggests that in some regions only 20% LGB people feel comfortable being fully out at work, what do you think can be done to change this?

Employers and trade unions together must agree a strong equality, dignity and respect policy to give confidence to everyone that coming out at work is safe and discrimination, harassment, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are not acceptable and will be dealt with. We must set out fair procedures, including union representation, and provide training for all to make the policy effective. We need to ensure that LGBT+ people have a voice, and that everyone is confident to promote LGBT+ equality and oppose discrimination. Visible presence of materials for LGBT+ History Month and involvement in Pride activities is a part of this.

What has been your highlight of working in Unite Equalities?

I’ve actively promoted equality throughout workplaces, the wider community and union for over 30 years, including when LGBT discrimination was completely lawful. One of my highlights was learning from the experience of the two unions that formed Unite, as part of the group drawing up the rules I was very proud to ensure Regional and National LGBT Committees and Conferences all have full constitutional status. Another was achieving rights for same sex partners in the workplace even when it wasn’t a legal requirement, and then actively ensuring the SORB regulations and then the Equality Act ensured these rights – leading on to civil partnerships and same sex marriage. On pensions, more to do, but we have made huge progress!

To hear more about Diana or Unite please visit their website.

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