His argument is that the business world in general is out of touch and homophobia is deep-rooted within, and that there are some industries, such as the oil and manufacturing industries, that are much worse than others.
He also noted that the media industries—which, I guess, includes digital agencies such as MintTwist—are far more accepting to the point of nonchalance. And I have to say that my experience has been just that. I feel completely and utterly comfortable being exactly who I am, gay or not.
New media is tolerant, but MintTwist is nonchalant
Working in new media has given me the experience of a wide open and accepting career so far, and I couldn’t appreciate that more. I am aware that there are industries and companies where employees don’t benefit from the same experience and that, of course, is upsetting.
Working at MintTwist has been like working with family. The expansion of the business, whilst introducing more people all the time, has done little to halt the basic ethics and properties of family life: respect, tolerance and love.
Whilst the new media industry as a whole is tolerant, MintTwist is on an entirely different level. The word tolerance simply doesn’t cut it, because tolerance suggests people simply accept you for who you are. Whilst that is true, it’s not the whole story.
The whole story is, strangely, simpler than that. People at MintTwist are the kind of people who are nonchalant about it; it’s simply not an issue, no need for discussion. Nothing. Full stop.
Proud employer programmes
There are some programmes provided by the government and charities whereby a company can indicate to the world that it is a “proud employer”, that it welcomes gay people, and indeed all races, both sexes and the full age range.
Stonewall has a programme called Diversity Champions. It asks a company to pay £2,000 to be a part of it, and it lists the company in the so-called Workplace Equality Index, along with other benefits.
My problem with these programmes and schemes is the fact that they need to exist. Now, I’m not so naïve as to suggest that they are a bad thing; of course they aren’t. I just lament their need, probably because my work life has been so positive, at least so far. The wider question is ‘why can’t other industries and companies be the same as new media and MintTwist?’ I don’t have the answer, but I do believe it needs frank discussion.
Lord Browne hasn’t spoken openly about his sexuality before. He says that was because he feared reprisals and that the “smallest things” in the workplace can make somebody miserable. That was true in the sixties, when he first realised he was gay and, sadly, there are still some parts of the world and indeed country that act in the same way towards anything that is considered different.
It took 41 years working at BP before Lord Browne came out, and I think that’s something people need to be ashamed of.
Hiding my sexuality did make me unhappy and, in the end, it didn’t work. It was only a matter of time before it came out.
He goes on to say: “In fact I was trapped for most of my adult life, unable to reveal who I was to the world. I led a double-life of secrecy, and of deep isolation, walled off from those closest to me.”
I’m not the kind of person to be a victim—and I’m not fond of those who play the victim card—and that might be for a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t experienced any homophobia in the workplace. Of course, that’s not to say I haven’t heard the odd passing comment from clients or those passing through. But never, not once, have I had to endure anything remotely homophobic from MintTwist people.
My experience is clearly different from that of Lord Browne, and that is probably mostly down to generation. I’m twenty-four years old and the industry in which I work is young and full of people who are similar to me.
I don’t believe for one minute that there exists no homophobia, no sexism or racism within the industry. But I believe that being held up as a beacon of tolerance not by government or charity programmes, but by pure action and positive engagement and conversation, is the best thing in the world for the inclusion of everybody.
Whilst working at MintTwist I have made many brothers and sisters. They have shown themselves to be inclusive, proactively friendly and just plain lovely, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
All that’s left now is to root out the hatred of those companies still using out-dated browsers. Actually, strike that…it’s so completely worth it.