Earlier this year, LinkedIn asked its 500+ million members to cast their mind back to what they wanted to be when they were 15, as a part of celebrating the global professional hub’s 15th birthday.

Immediately to my mind came the memories of exclusion, loneliness, fear, and anxiety about my sexuality. I didn’t think much about my future career at 15, all I wanted to be at 15 was straight.

Hit the fast-forward button and I am glad to say that in my experience, life certainly got better.

I discovered I had the full support of my parents, I came out at University (and it was no biggie), and have worked in many LGBTI+ inclusive workplaces.

My current role is leading Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) Retail Bank Diversity and Inclusion program and I am a member of CBA’s UNITY Council.

However, when 61 per cent of young LGBTI+ people report experiencing homophobic verbal abuse, 33 per cent have self-harmed, and are five times more likely than their heterosexual, cisgender peers to attempt suicide… there’s clearly much more to be done.

Putting the fight for talent, future of work, and an increasingly discerning customer base aside, Corporate Australia has a huge opportunity, and many would say, an obligation to create a world in which its customers, employees (present and future), and the community in which it operates is safe, inclusive, and one where everyone can contribute their best and realise their full potential.

This is why, now more than ever, it is important for organisations to show their support for our LGBTI+ young people.

Wear it Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. In 2010 there were several public stories of rainbow young people dying by suicide following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity.

Since 2010, Wear it Purple has developed into an international movement, with the simple message that everybody has the right to be proud of who they are.

In 2018, the theme of Wear it Purple Day is EMPOWER TOGETHER, recognising the power and resilience of our LGBTI+ community and encouraging everyone to celebrate and empower the diversity that surrounds us – for we still have a long way to go.  

How can you support Wear it Purple?

  1. Participate in Wear it Purple Day on 31 August – and register your event at wearitpurple.org
  2. Purchase t-shirts, wristbands, shoelaces, and more from Wear it Purple to help show your support visibly. Hand them out to your employees, or sell them to raise funds for the Wear it Purple – all funds go back into the organisation enable us to run more WIP Day events, as well as initiatives for LGBTI+ young people throughout the year.  
  3. Put up posters, decorate your work locations, or even your building in purple!
  4. Broadcast your participation loudly – hold an event to promote the work of your LGBTI+ employee network, invite staff to learn more about LGBTI+ inclusion, get the work out to your customers too!
  5. Make a donation to support the work of Wear it Purple

Imagine a world where LGBTI+ young people do not fear the ramifications of coming out, where they don’t have to question if a particular industry or workplace is going to result in them having to hide who they are, where they won’t be the target of harassment or discrimination, just for being themselves and most importantly, where they won’t become a statistic.

Ross Wetherbee is Organisational Development Manager, Diversity and Inclusion and Performance at Commonwealth Bank, and a Board Director at Wear it Purple.  Find out more and show your support for Wear it Purple at www.wearitpurple.org. 

wear it purple

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