I am wearing a pedometer. This is a device that you connect to your belt which counts the number of steps you take. I am aiming for 10,000 steps per day for the next 100 days. You might be wondering why I am involved in such a suspiciously healthy sounding activity? Well these little devices are being handed out free at work, and we have been placed into teams of five. The mission is to get the staff moving, through teamwork and competition. ‘Make fitness FUN’ in other words. Obviously I have no truck with the team building part of this campaign. That sounds sinister and corporate – and as a secret communist, I’ll be having none of that kind of lark. While it may be true that no man is an island, I have no issue with being a peninsula – not cut off from my colleagues entirely, but nonetheless at a safe distance from their heart-warming tale of suburban, heterosexual married bliss.
Getting healthier and fitter sounds appealing. It was my birthday yesterday. Appallingly, it is no longer possible to avoid certain facts. The scariest one being that I am middle aged. As the tears of sorrow soak my fingers as I type these words, I understand the need to prepare my carcass for the 2nd half of my life. Walking is an easy way of achieving that. I walk a lot anyway so reaching that magical 10,000 number should be an achievable target. Walking that thirty minutes to and from the bus stop to the wastelands each day ought to take care of this.
We shall see. If I fall behind my ‘team’ will be there to administer encouragement.
Speaking of teams, the ‘diversity and inclusion’ team at work is organising an event next week called ‘The ABCs of LGBTQ+’ – an ‘in-depth overview of sexual orientation; gender identity and gender expression’.
It promises to be a ‘safe space’ where employees can ‘ask questions, get informed and learn how small steps can make a more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ staff members, which will be displayed through scenarios’.
Obviously I will be in attendance. The description of the event sends a chill down my spine.
The intention is noble and well meaning. And obviously LGBT people should feel welcome in the workplace.
But work is not a ‘safe space’ – for anyone. When one works in a multinational absolutely everybody is expendable – regardless of race, sex, age, sexual orientation. We know that our worth as employees is directly and inextricably linked to yearly profits, regardless of how hard we work, or our pay grade.
Events like the ‘ABCs of LGBTQ+’ are well intentioned, but I don’t think fifty year old Beryl (not her real name) feels like this environment is a safe space any longer. Poor old Beryl had to interview for her own job last month (as we all did), except she was not successful. She is being made redundant. Only she doesn’t know her end date, as the ‘transition to the new ways of working’ hasn’t been specified. So in she comes to work every day, not knowing when she will finish, and not knowing where she will work next.
I will attend the ‘ABCs of LGBTQ+’ with a sunny smile, in the full knowledge that when the axe is about to fall, anyone can be a target. As the only out LGBTQ+ person in my office (that I am aware of anyway), I hope that I will not be made into a ‘target for inclusion’.
That sounds like it could involve an increased workload.