Corporate pride celebrations make life easier for us gay people

Corporate pride celebrations make life easier for us gay people

In DN, PwC’s Petter Vold writes that it’s important to celebrate pride throughout the year, and that inclusion “isn’t something you can decorate yourself with in a parade.”

It’s hard to disagree with this, but I’ve experienced first-hand what it means for Pride to become public property—helped well by the commitment of the business world. It’s been almost 20 years since I participated in my first Pride celebration in Oslo, which was then called Strange Days. I haven’t come out of the closet yet. I was a guy from the village, and I didn’t have a queer role model. This was long before anyone in business celebrated Pride.

Now it’s different. I think the Norwegian business community has contributed to the Pride movement’s success: it’s easier to be openly gay in Norway, and that has helped guarantee an expanded set of rights.

In 2017, I had the opportunity to marry my wife, just like a heterosexual couple.

It’s now been one year since the terrorist attack hit the Pride celebrations in Oslo, and PST recently reported several threats against Pride this year.

My feelings alternate between fear, anger, combativeness and dignity. I also feel a huge responsibility. My job is, among other things, to ensure the safety of colleagues at work.

At Autostore, we’ve validated if we’re a good workplace for everyone. We consistently have results to be proud of. however; Women, LGBT people, and employees with disabilities feel less involved than the majority. We have to work on this.

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Flagging Pride creates space for conversations about how we work with inclusion in the Autostore, and opens the door to changing attitudes for the rest of the year. I hope this is also the experience in other workplaces.

This work is important in Norway, but even more so in countries where LGBT rights are under severe pressure. At Autostore we have offices in 13 countries, including Poland. According to ILGA Europe, Poland is among the EU countries where it is more difficult to be gay.

When we raised the rainbow flag outside one of our Polish warehouses at the beginning of June, we were promptly told to remove it. We were shown a lease agreement stating that only flags with company logos could be flown.

And then our creative Polish colleagues arranged a new flag with the Autostore logo – in the colors of the rainbow. A small matter in the grand scheme of things, but an opportunity to show that we do not join in the face of opposition.

I hope Norwegian businessmen will continue to celebrate Pride. The fear of making a mistake does not diminish the will to make the effort. and that business leaders recognize their responsibility by acting as good role models.

Few things could be more important than using the influence of business to support one of the most beautiful things we have in life – the right to love whomever we want.

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Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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