A workshop on LGBTQ Inclusion in Business was held at the Fernie Seniors’ Center on Wednesday June 8th.
The event, titled ‘Building a More 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusive Business’, was organized by the Fernie Pride Society and the Fernie Chamber of Commerce.
“It was really to help companies either get on the path to inclusion or to foster inclusion in their businesses,” said Courtney Baker, trustee of the Fernie Pride Society.
Featured speakers include Andrea Brennan, Reverend Canon of Christ Church Anglican and Fernie Knox United Church, Loren Christie of Canada’s LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce on Zoom, speaking on “How Your Business Can Benefit from Becoming More 2SLGBTQ+ Inclusive”, and Pam Rocker, an activist, consultant, speaker and musician, also on Zoom, speaking on “Safer, Braver Businesses”.
There were 50 people present in person and online, with various sectors and organizations within the community represented.
Baker said the event aims to help businesses attract and retain employees and customers, and that inclusion leads to economic, social and cultural growth for businesses.
“It was really to put businesses on the best path to success.”
Attendees received a booklet entitled “2SLGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion Guide”, produced by Baker.
“(The booklet is) really more about how to start your business (with inclusivity) and then if you want to, how to take your DEI forward – your diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in your business.”
Baker said developing a statement of commitment and putting it “front and center” in hiring and sticking to that statement is one way for companies to be more inclusive.
In her remarks, Brennan said the event was “a wonderful opportunity to bring business owners and employees together, to take a look at what we need to do, what we need to do to be better, as an inclusive community”.
She said Fernie has always been “ahead of the fray” in terms of attracting people from around the world, and that expanding her appeal to the LGBTQ community was another step that could be taken.
“There’s a market there that we’re missing, and so it makes economic sense,” she said.
She also said inclusion is the moral thing to do and anyone can participate in a job as long as they have the skills to do it.
“There’s always work we can do to be more inclusive, and if we can start with the LGBTQ community, then we can look at being more inclusive for people of color, for our Indigenous brothers and sisters, for us ensuring that we provide spaces where people feel safe, where people feel included — where people don’t feel tolerated, they feel celebrated. And that’s a really big difference,” Brennan said.
“I’m really happy for the people who were with us today.”