You should be able to be yourself at work
A network is being initiated at KTH for employees and doctoral students identifying as LGBTQI+. The initiators are a group of employees and they are inviting people to a virtual meeting on 25 July.
"The community, safety, and support the network can provide individuals with will be important, says Viktor Olson, Community & Program Manager at KTH Innovation.
Zofia Laine, International Coordinator at CBH emphasises that the network naturally also welcomes heterosexuals who wish to show LGBTQI+ colleagues their support.
There is a demand for a forum where you can come together on these issues and socialise, she says. At work, situations arise sometimes where it is easily assumed that everyone is straight in accordance with the norm. Staffroom conversations are one such example where colleagues often talk about their significant others and their families.
“A person may feel the need to stay silent in order to not stand out, or because you don’t want to argue, or because you do not want to take on the role of token spokesperson for the entire LGBTQI+ movement,” says Zofia Laine.
The importance of visibility
Tina Ringenson, doctoral student at ABE, has experienced that there are some prejudices against those working at KTH that do not conform to the norm.
She often feels out of place in her own workgroup and says:
“There is a stereotypical image of what a KTH employee is. Therefore it would be positive to show that there is actual diversity amongst those working here.”
Francisco Vilaplana, Associate Professor and Head of Division at CBH believes that LGBTQI+ persons are underrepresented within his field and adds:
“That’s why visibility is important to us. Everyone should feel included at their workplace.” It is also valuable for KTH as a university with an international working environment to show that we stand for diversity, inclusion, and equal value.
The idea for a network started to form for Zofia Laine and Viktor Olson after they both partook of a training course on LGBTQI+ that the Equality Office and ST Union arranged. They decided to investigate the interest amongst KTH’s employees and received a positive response.
Zofia Laine emphasises that everyone should be able to be completely transparent about their sexual orientation at work without risking negative consequences in their individual careers.
Viktor Olson adds:
“We’re in the starting phase and hope to eventually become an established network with a large number of committed members.”
Words: Marianne Norén