A Shropshire-based trio is putting equality and diversity at the top of the agenda with a new initiative to help businesses ensure they are inclusive of all genders and sexualities.
G Sabini-Roberts and Ruth Sabini-Roberts, both from Gobowen, have joined forces with Robin Jakumeit, from Shrewsbury, to set up The Queer Box.
They have created the venture to provide gender, sexuality and relationship diversity advice and training for businesses. It evolved after G sparked discussion on social media on the subject and was approached with questions and requests to share guidance across different forums, including sharing insights on the Our Queer Experience podcast.
G is non-binary and has been an LGBTQ+ activist, organiser, facilitator and trainer since 1996. They have been running the successful Oswestry-based brand design agency, Gina.Design since 2012. Ruth has been involved in LGBTQ+ activism since 2002. She joined G in running Gina.Design in 2019.
Robin is a non-binary academic who runs workshops for the LGBTQ+ community and has been involved in activism and policy making since 2010. Their work focuses on gender, sexuality and relationship diversities.
G said: “We have finally reached a stage in society where equality for all genders and sexualities is no longer a pipe-dream. There are still battles to be fought but when it comes to business, if you are not openly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community then you are falling behind.
“But let’s be honest, it’s not just those minority groups that a business may be putting off by failing to keep up with the times. Anyone who supports LGBTQ+ equality is likely to walk away if they believe a business to be anything other than fully inclusive. Research has shown that businesses that have an openly LGBTQ-positive stance out-perform their competitors.
“However, if you are not an active part of the community yourself then it can be challenging to understand where prejudice is still a part of business practices. You may want to make changes, but knowing what they are or how to best implement them is a whole other matter.
“We can teach you how to make simple changes in what you say and the way you say it so that, for example, no-one ever gets confused about which bathroom to use, what box to tick on your application form or by the messages on your website – and make sure your business is as inclusive as it can possibly be.”
A Credit Suisse study showed that openly LGBTQ-positive businesses out-performed their competitors by three per cent a year, from 2010 to 2016. By 2019, this figure had risen to an average of six-and-a-half per cent, according to a study by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The Queer Box can support businesses through video training, Zoom discovery calls, and in-person training courses, following Covid-19 safety guidelines.
G added more on why it was important to launch The Queer Box: “Following recent Facebook posts and discussion, it became clear that lots of people had learned that there was more to gender and sexuality inclusion than they had thought, and that even though their intentions were good, they had been inadvertently causing offence.
“With more than five decades of experience in LGBTQ+ community development, activism and training, we can steer businesses to be inclusive, and in turn can help to combat the prejudice and wider effects that LGBTQ+ people experience.
“As business owners we not only have a moral obligation to support inclusivity, but we have an opportunity to be leaders and pioneers in celebrating diversity in everything that we do.”
To listen to G on the Our Queer Experience podcast, go to: https://www.ourqueerexperience.com/oqe-podcast/.